What's Blooming

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy holiday weekend

After a long week full of much needed rain, many people will have a long weekend to enjoy. Part of that weekend will mean cleaning up from the storms and for others mowing grass that will grow rapidly after all the rain will be part of the holiday. But this is also a good weekend to be out hunting for orchids in the central Appalachian mountains. The large purple fringed orchid I found in Bath County is well past prime, but other cooler locations in Bath and Highland may still have fresh plants. The large purple fringed orchid over in West Virginia around the Williams River and the Cranberry Glades should be nearly perfect this weekend. Indeed, this is probably the best weekend of the summer to make a trip over to the Cranberry Glades. Look for Grass Pink Orchids, Rose Pogonia and Large Purple Fringed Orchid. Also the pitcher plants will be in bloom and the board walk at the Glades is always a wonderful experience.
For anyone traveling between Bath and Covington, watch for the patch of cone flowers along the east side of 220 about half-way over the mountain. This flower is rather rare in the wild in the east and is a nice little treat to break up the drive across the moutain. You have to catch a glimpse as you go by since there isn't a safe place to stop. But these flowers are a good reminder that nature has little treats and surprises for us even on a windy mountain highway.
On another note, during July in the Mountain View room of the library in Monterey will be an exhibit of my nature photography. Forty-plus photos of orchids and other wildflowers along with some landscapes, trees and other nature shots. If you get by, I'd love to hear what you think. Happy Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


The first day of summer has arrived and many places around the world people still celebrate this longest daylight of the year. While days will get warmer for a few months, the length of daylight will shorten. So its time to get out after work and tend those gardens and roam the woodlands. If you want to see and interesting little native orchid, check out the Lost Woman Trail in Hidden Valley. Stay on the trail (recently cleaned and cleared by the Forest Service) and when you get to culverts and wetspots, look along the mud and undergrowth for spikes of tiny green flowers. If you are lucky you will see Platanthera flava. Many of our native orchids and other wildflowers are very beautiful, but very small. The flowers on flava are no exception so look closely and watch out for poison ivy. And again, stay on the trail. Wet areas are especially subject to habitat damage by soil compression.
Normally I don't play around much with my photos using computer software. But since I had a decent photo of a rattlesnake and a great photo of a red salamander, I decided to create a fictional species relative of this gentle creature. Well, they look gentle anyway. Salamanders have a poison in their skin to discourage predators -- and humans that handle them. So here is a shot of a rattlemander.
Look for the goat's beard along Warm Springs mountain along route 39 to fade this week. Also it is time to start looking for Grass Pink orchid in wet areas and Large Purple Fringed orchid in wet cool climates. I'd love to hear about any you find. And please don't pick. Beautiful, but rare.
Have fun.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Time flies....

My post last week fell prey to internet connection issues and now another weekend is almost over. The Mountain Laurel has peaked along airport road but there is still plenty of it to be seen through out the highlands. Also this is a good time to remember that between southeastern Bath County and northwestern Highland county even this time of the year there can be two weeks difference between the plants that are blooming. For instance, the pink Lady's Slippers are in peak bloom in areas along the Highland/WV border while they are long past in most of Bath County.
For orchid hunters, the twayblades are in bloom in Bath County. I've seen some nice patches of Lily leaved twayblade on the east side of Warm Springs Mountain. There should be other varieties of twayblades in bloom in Bath and Highland, but the Lily Leaved is the only one I have found so far. Let me know if you spot any of the others.
As June progresses it will be time to look for Grass Pink orchid in wet and boggy areas. Be sure to plan a trip over to the Cranberry Glades around the end of June or first of July for an amazing orchid show. More on that later.
And we need to continue to pray for rain.