Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cedar Glade: The April Visit, Part I

Hey there, is everyone ready for the official April visit to the Couchville Cedar Glade. It was a beautiful morning and we wanted to get an early start; rain was expected and you know what rain means in a glade...mud!

Last month, most of the glade was underwater and

dotted all around with water tolerant spring wildflowers. (Leavenworthia stylosa)
The sky was gray and it was chilly...late winter in the Central Basin. The green of Juniperus virginiana was prominent.


Here is the same shot a month later. (click on any photo to enlarge)

I don't know about you but, wow comes to mind. All the marvelous green and a wonderful blue sky. It was muddy, but not sticky gooey mud!


We'll be back to this very spot in May...but for now let's see what else the Glade has in store for us!

As you enter the Natural Area we pass through a grassland meadow. The grasses have greened up nicely. Later in the season we'll clearly see Little Blue Stem grass and other native grasses.



The trail is a mile loop through a different landscape then most of us are used to seeing...There is exposed limestone with native shrubs and trees that you may have in your garden...but here you'll see them in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes open for some surprises.


The green shrubs are Hypericum frondosum (Golden St John's Wort) and Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac) both in my garden. They have lovely yellow blooms. The Sumac's not in flower or bud in the glade, but I have buds at home. My garden is a less harsh environment and a few weeks ahead of the glade.

Here is a closeup of the Rhus, check out those beautiful leaves.... Do they look familiar? Rhus is a second cousin, twice removed from its rather foul tempered cousin, Poison Ivy, and not at all an allergic agent!


The Hypericum frondosum or Golden St John's Wort is everywhere in the woodlands. Not yet ready to bloom, but looking good with its soft green color.


Just a bit more greenery from the Red Cedar-Hardwood Forests that are often found near Cedar Glades. The soil is deeper and inviting to pioneer trees like Red Cedars.




More exposed limestone on the trail, We leave the wooded trail and turn the corner....to arrive at this open field of shallow soils, exposed limestone and endemic plants. This is the glade or barren. If you look closely, you can see the wildflowers; some emerging, some budding and others blooming. This is the home of Tennessee Coneflower and....


SURPRISE! Verbena canadensis (Glandularia canadensis) growing in its native habitat. Homestead Purple is the hybridized form of this extremely hardy native. The sweet little white flower growing with it is Glade Sandwort (Minuartia patula). Both were growing everywhere, including the middle of the trails. Talk about tough plants.

Many yards within a mile or so of Couchville Cedar Glade have glady conditions; not much lawn, instead they have large stands of Glade Sandwort and Rose Verbena. Really lovely.

Another glade native is Glade Phlox (Phlox bifida). It's just beginning to bloom.

I expected the verbena and sandwort but was completely surprised to see Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) hanging out in the neighborhood. This was a first for me...I love Shooting Star, but have only seen it in cultivated gardens. I was thrilled to see this plant! This is why we have to continue protecting native habitats...but I shall leave that subject for now....




If this is your first visit you might not know what a Cedar Glade is and I quote myself here from an earlier post:
"... now a cedar glade is clearly a rocky, gravelly or grassy opening that might be surrounded by red-cedar forests or red-cedar/hardwood forests."

In a glade, you'll find 300 million year old limestone either exposed or close to the surface...and growing there are plants that have adapted to harsh conditions...very wet in the winter and bone dry in the summer. You wouldn't think anything can grow here but it's teeming with life!

I love this mosaic composition...and so does the Glade Sandwort.


Here is a big picture shot of Glade Sandwort...happy in full sun, limestone and shallow soil.




Sandwort growing in shallow soil on exposed limestone with emerging coneflower.The Red Cedar-Hardwood Forest surrounds the glade. The boulders were very inviting and seemed a good place to rest and think.



As we walked closer to the rocks, I was lost in thought; appreciating the stark beauty and wondering again, what early Tennessee pioneers felt about this difficult land.... my husband woke me from my daydream when he said, " Gail, look at this!" I looked up to see this!


Quite the surprise isn't it!

It had to be a group of scouts who found all these bones! They honored the rules and didn't take them out of the park and left them there for all to see.

Speaking of the hand of man...this glade has only been protected since 1995. There is much evidence that this beautiful park was once used by us as a dumping ground...


It's hard not to appreciate nature...


and easy to be disappointed with human behavior that shows no respect for it.




There's more to see in the glade, shall we meet back here tomorrow?

Gail

26 comments:

  1. Very nice walk thru the park. You know so much about wildflowers and all these things. Is the fragrant sumac also known as Gro Lo sumac? It comes highly recommended and I so want some here but need to find a location. It is supposed to not grow more than 3 feet or so but I hear gets quite tall. Is this the same? I may have a location.

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  2. Sure looks different than last month without all the water. Great post and look forward to next month's.

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  3. Tina,

    Hybridized but the same plant and I have 6 of them that I am hoping will fill in a large bed and be a great anchor ground cover. They are really lovely...I hope you can find a place for them! So far none are taller than 3 feet they are surrounding V Rifidulum,

    Gail

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  4. Jean,

    It surely does look different...so much so that I couldn't find all the spots I thought I wanted to see again and compare to last month. So glad I decided to just show the one very identifiable location. You and Tina are a welcome sight this morning!

    Gail

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  5. What a beautiful place! It is so different from the wild areas of Northern Illinois. The Verbena is such a pretty little plant (& purple to boot). Try not to be envious here: growing wild in the yard of the house I grew up in were Shooting Stars. No one knew what they were. I do now.

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  6. Thank you for taking us on this wonderful trip! I look forward to the next post on it. It's so interesting to learn all these details about different parts of the country. I love verbena and had no idea it was a native flower.

    Gail, I just read your post from yesterday. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your mother.

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  7. mmd,

    Not sure I can contain the jealousy!
    I do like the verbena, it's a sweet plant and one has to work to kill it!

    The glades are unique and it's a stark beauty....mmd, glad you liked the glade.

    gail

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  8. Rose, Glad you enjoyed the field trip and this particular verbena is native but there are some that are annual but they hail from some other part of the world! I want to say South America....someone else might know.

    Thank you, I appreciate your condolences very much.

    Gail

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  9. Oh Gail, you are too sweet!

    Have a good night and see you tomorrow.

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  10. Hi Gail, glad to see that some people will take care of that wonderful park since it is now protected. I have seen the verbena along the roadsides here and could not identify it. It is a sea of light purple blooming now. That sumac looks so much like poison ivy, excuse while I go apply ruli gel.

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  11. frances,

    Exactly, even though I know it's harmless I couldn't touch it and I have it growing in the yard.... I hope we have enough sense to continue to keep our parks safe.

    Gail

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  12. Oh Gail, it was so exciting to suddenly come across the Dodecatheon. Thank you so much for taking us along on that lovely walk. I would love to take a real walk there someday.

    Today I noticed a wild flower forming small colonies along my woods. I will take photos in a few days when the rain stops and maybe you can help me identify it.

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  13. Thanks for the lovely tour. Aren't wildflowers wonderful? Too bad some nasty humans have to go spoil it!

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  14. Around here what you call fragrant sumac is generally called "skunkbush." But they probably wouldn't use that name if you were looking for it in a nursery.

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  15. melanie,
    Would love to help, I wonder what wildflowers you have that we don't?
    I love the glades and would love for others to appreciate them too. It is so different from a deciduous woodland!

    Gail

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  16. cinj, it's really too bad but I loved that flowers would grow right on top of the can and in the broken glass! Did you get an offer on the house?


    gail

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  17. bill, don't burst my happy glade loving bubble, skunk bush! That is too funny! Not gonna sell out at the nursery with a moniker like that!


    Gail

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  18. Gail, what a beautiful spot! It's been lovely touring the park with someone who so obviously loves it and knows so much about it and the plants that grow there. Your guided tour was a real treat.

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  19. I had a wonderful time walking along with you. I had not heard of a Glade. It was fascinating. Thank you for the tour. It does seem odd to see all that growth from such shallow soil.

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  20. herself,


    Glad you liked it...There are so few protected areas like this left,

    Gail

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  21. gardengirl,

    I am glad you liked the glade! And you are so right I love it!

    Gail

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  22. anna,

    It is fascinating and I am glad plants can take those tough conditions, because I have some shallow soil with exposed limestone.

    BTW, The killer bees have invaded my house, too....they love wood that is stained not painted. They are here every year....we go to battle because one year the woodpecker dug huge holes in the wood trying to get to the bee larva!


    Gail

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  23. There certainly is a lot to see in a cedar glade! I like that verbena. You were over pretty close to where my in-laws live. Just up 840 off of Central Pike. We pass by Couchville fairly often but haven't stopped there. My in-laws property is mostly all cedar glade. I need to get some trillium photos I took last week up in a post!

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  24. Lucky in-laws, unless you want to grow grass! Dave, do please post the Trilliums!

    Gail

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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