There is an old saying that ignorance is bliss. But then old timers also say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. I don't know that I would be happy with the kind of bliss that goes along with ignorance, but yesterday I was reminded how knowledge can be dangerous in the sense of bringing some emotional pain that we wouldn't have had had we stayed in ignorance. And yes, this does relate to wildflowers. Doesn't everything in some way?
Two weeks ago, my friend and nature mentor Stan showed me a site in West Virginia not far from where I live for tubercled orchid -- one of those pretty little orchids with the spikes of greenish flowers that tend to get overlooked. The flowers were just beginning to bloom two weeks ago. I returned yesterday to find the site mowed to bare earth by some hard working and well meaning government employee. And I am serious about the employee being well meaning. Driving a mower along roads on hot summer days is a thankless job that we all take for granted. But one does hope that they get a little information about sites for rare plants before they just reduce the site to bare earth.
On a happier note: Along the top of the mountain on 250 west of Monterey, there is still Mountain Laurel in bloom. At lower elevations and all around Bath, the last of the great mountain shrubs is blooming -- Rosebay Rhododendron. The flowers I have seen are mostly white, but the blooms can be from white to dark pink. This weekend and the following week look to be peak.
This weekend will also be the last chance to see grass pink orchids in the Cranberry Glades. There are a few sites for these orchids in Bath and Highland counties. And probably many more sites in wet fields and wet corners of yards that have never been noticed. This is a wonderful little flower (see photo above) and worth hunting for. Over in the Glades are many thousands of Rose pogonia orchid and these too will be gone in the coming days.
Yesterday I saw five species of native orchids in bloom. So, keep your eyes open especially in wet woodlands, fields and roadsides. And maybe take a walk through those field and roadsides before you mow. Never know what wonders you might find.