Friday, May 19, 2023

A Mothers' Day at Herrontown Woods

Mothers' Day, on May 14, coincided with our regular Sunday workday at Herrontown Woods. It was a day of beauty and serendipity as we mixed weeding with socializing with families out for a walk in the gorgeous weather.

This boy found a 4 leaf clover in the field next to Veblen House. Some people just have the knack. And while I chatted with his parents, he found lots of cool rocks, too. His parents told me he was already up for two hour long nature walks at the age of two. Looks like we have a budding naturalist here.
New volunteer, Kalyan, who has been helping pull up garlic mustard across the stream from the Barden, came across a box turtle in the area where we've been subduing a giant clone of wisteria.

Hard to capture in a photo, but it was a pleasure to gaze across this newly created vista: a valley coated with skunk cabbage and ferns, now relieved of privet and other invasive shrubs by volunteer Bill Jemas and other members of our Invasive Species of the Month Club, led by FOHW board member Inge Regan.

There were flowers large and small. The fragrant snowbell (Styrax obassia) 
was in full bloom behind the Veblen House. 
A tulip tree flower on the ground caused us to look up at all the others blooming high up.
Tiny blue flowers near the ground are called blue-eyed grass (Sisyrhinchium), 
though their flat stems show they are really related to irises, not grass.

The pagoda dogwoods we planted in the Barden are now big enough to bloom.
One of the pleasant tasks for the day was digging up volunteer native plants that have sprouted in the paths of the Barden. We can clear the paths while gaining a new plant to put elsewhere. Environmentalists love win-wins.

Still working on the installation of this little pond, but it's already attracting frogs. A vernal pool naturally formed by a fallen tree nearby was full of tadpoles and salamander larvae.
A new feature in the Barden, and also next to the Veblen Cottage, are arrow trees that tell of significant places associated with the Veblens' lives and legacy. 

So much to enjoy and be grateful for on a Mothers' Day in May.

Monday, May 1, 2023

A Misty, Moisty Morning at Herrontown Woods

It can be a delight to visit the Herrrontown Woods after a heavy rain. This past weekend, we had several heavy rains, with pauses inbetween that were ideal for seeing the preserve when it is rich with water. 

May Day, and the azaleas are blooming once again in the Barden. Though common in the past,  no native azaleas would bloom now in Herrontown Woods if not for human intervention to rescue them from deer and heavy shade.

I found a soaked frog puppet lying on the trail, and gave it a good perch to dry out upon.
Ostrich ferns from Rachelle's garden contrast with the fallen tree behind.
Rachelle and Andrew created this Zen Garden, with a small pond that swells in the rain. Rivulets flow through the Barden from higher up in the preserve, pausing on their journey here and there before feeding the natural vernal pools down the hill. The water that periodically flows through the Barden could be a nuisance, washing woodchips off of pathways, but we find ways to direct its flow, to play with it, so that it feeds and beautifies the landscape.
Victorino's bridge, hewn from fallen trees, leads towards the red trail. 
Blackhaw Viburnums are common in the woodlands around the Barden, blooming with the flowering dogwoods and, it can be dreamed, a growing abundance of native azaleas. 
The one cluster of trillium--the only trilliums I've seen growing in Princeton--has bloomed again this year, up on the Veblen House grounds.