What's Blooming

Ongoing post with pictures of nature in the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia and the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Keeping up with anything this time of the year seems to be impossible. This year I get a break from mowing grass and trying to get a garden planted. One I miss, one I don't. I'm going to have to find some garden fresh tomatoes some place this summer.
Last weekend in WV was wonderful. The Greenbrier River Trail is a treasure in many ways. Our group of nearly two dozen people including two Ph.D. botanist who provided identification skills managed to find and identify over seventy flowering plants. The plants ranged from the little one-flowered cancer root to some wonderful patches of Showy Orchis. And we covered only about ten miles of the trail.
Over here in Bath County the show continues and expands everyday. The Yellow Lady Slippers at my traditional site haven't even opened yet. But up the road on Pig Run the patch has peaked. The odd little orchid Large Whorled Pogonia (pictured) began to bloom this week on the east side of Warm Springs Mountain. This flower is almost impossible to find unless you already know where to look. If you want to see this flower, the next seven days will be your opportunity
around here. Contact me for directions if you don't know a site.
Showy Orchis is at peak at some sites in the county this weekend. The patch on Forest Service 194, Lime kiln Road, doesn't seem to be as big as last year. I'll be there this weekend taking pictures if it doesn't rain. Speaking of rain. We had a few showers, but this part of the state still needs rain. So I won't complain if I get rained out this weekend. I'm sure I'll see lots of interesting things even if I can't get out with a camera.
One of the nicest spring wildflower drives in the county is the ten mile Lime Kiln Road, Forest Service 194. This is a forest service road, gravel, dirt and mostly single track. There are two small stretches that get really messy if we have a lot of rain. When the conditions are dry, these two places can have some pretty deep ruts. So I don't recommend the road for a family van or other low vehicle. But many cars and all trucks and SUVs should be able to manage the entire ten miles. The road begins and ends on State Route 629, Douthat Park Road. The north couple of miles of often have hundreds of Pink Lady Slippers mixed in with the low huckleberries. I didn't see any in bloom on Friday (May 5). But it shouldn't be long. Next week probably. I was surprised to see that the Lupine is still very fresh with some still opening. There are some nice patches along the first few hundred yards at the north end. Along the road look for bird-foot violets in many colors. Also vernal iris. Near the southern end is a large are with many Showy Orchis. And there are plenty of other things to see. The Pinkster is just opening and it is really amazing.
And don't forget the Leather Flower along 615 below Hot Springs. There are three separate species scattered along the shale barrens on the north side of the road starting across from the water treatment plant and running down to across from Moe's. Most of the plants are the more common White Haired Leather Flower. But I also saw a few of the rare Millboro Leather Flower and a couple of the C. ochroleuca. This coming week will probably be the end of the season for these flowers.
Remember to enjoy the flowers where they are. Please don't pick and especially don't dig. Plants like orchids and Leather Flowers aren't going to make it in your garden anyway.


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