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Lady’s Slippers! May 31, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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OK, we’re back to the woodland flowers.  There’s a good deal of overlap, you know.

I went up to High Ledges in Shelburne to look for Ladies’ Slippers, common enough in these parts if you’re looking for the (ubiquitous) pink ones.  But I was hoping, for the third year in a row, to find the much rarer yellow variety, closely related yet significantly different in both color and form.

Near the overlook, mountain laurels were just starting to pop:

…and red columbines sprung from a cleft in an old stone wall:

And then, along side the trail running above the ledges, there were… Lady’s Slippers!

Groups of pink ones graced the forest floor with their showy blooms and deep, lush foliage:

These are our most common local orchids, Cypripedium acaule :

Their distinctive pink labellum  opens with a slit down the front:

…which, it turns out, is a distinctive feature of C. acaule.   (Most lady slippers open with a rounder hole at the top of the lip.)  It’s also worth noting that the two lateral petals are fairly straight and flat, like little knives.

I spent an hour wandering the trails, looking for the elusive yellow lady slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum.  This plant is also called C. pubescens  and was formerly conflated with the Eurasian C. calceolus.   (No, I don’t know stuff, and yes, I Wiki’d it.)

Finally, as I was about to give up and go home disappointed, a flash of yellow forty feet off the trail caught my eye, and… there it was:

…my first yellow!

The structural differences were noteworthy – the lateral petals were wonderfully twisted, the sepal on top was all fancy (Ah must say! ) and the pouch opened with a round hole at the top rather than the frontal slit of the local pink variety.

There were two plants here, only one of which had the flower attached to its single stalk, which is extremely unfortunate – the flower MUST cycle through and wither on the stem for the plant to return next season.  I say it’s unfortunate because lady slippers seldom reproduce in the wild, but live a very long time if undisturbed.  Many are thought to be older than the trees surrounding them!

Well, there it is.  Now that I know where to look I’ll start a bit earlier next year and hope for more, but for now, we only get one.



Weekend Roundup. June 12, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Another week of water over the damned, as they say.  Here are a few images culled from the pile, before I retire this ol’ ‘puterbox in favor of This Year’s Model.

Wild mustard beneath a Dr. Seuss cloud:

An old wooden truck bed being recycled by lichen:

A monobow descends over the hills of Bernardston:

The Bridge of Flowers in full bloom:

The local planting season swings into high gear:

A little rain does nothing to slow these folks down.  God bless the farmers!

The first cutting of hay came the third week of May, earlier than usual:

And here’s a view from Shelburne’s High Ledges at sunset, looking back at the Deerfield river running through Charlemont:

There are a few other shots from the week which may yet see daylight, but they’ll be coming atcha from a newer computer (once I get it figured out!)

Later, Peeps.

High Ledges. June 3, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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The High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary tops a tall hill in Shelburne, and is a great place to spend a few summer hours.  It’s beautiful this time of year, with the mountain laurels starting to pop, and an idyllic view:

…overlooking the village of Shelburne Falls, with the Bridge of Flowers in shadow at the left:

That’s a way tele shot, and cropped to boot, but the people on the bridge are very differentiable in the full-sized original.

Hats off to Gizmo.

I hiked the trails looking for Lady’s Slippers, and found plenty:

The rare yellow ones, sometimes plentiful, had gone by, so you get the pinks.

I wandered the woods, taking a chance on this fun little loop:

Pay no attention to those pesky signs, I’m sure this is a fine place to hike alone, miles from medical help.

This trail brought me past a bog where pitcher plants were blooming:

…and there were small animals, some disturbed by my passing, including this baby porcupine which waddled along the trail ahead of me, muttering (I swear!) ’till it hung a quick left and climbed a tree:

Sorry ’bout the picture quality, but I was set up for wildflowers, with mirror lock-up, manual focus and a two second delay, and this all happened pretty quickly.

So up the tree he went:

…then off to home I headed, relaxed and smiling from a good walk in the woods.

I hope you enjoy it too!