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?