Trail Flora: High Summer

When winter warms into April and May, the new life virtually bursts forth.  We hear fresh sounds, we smell fresh smells, we see copious arrays of vivid color.  One of my favorite writers called this the “fulsome riot of spring.”  Summer strikes a different note, provides a different vista.  It is too hot, it is both sweaty and dusty, some already-dried leaves begin to drift out of treetops onto the trail.  Along the borders vivid colors are harder to come by.  Robert Frost claims that the oven bird says “for flowers / Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.”  [Frost has always claimed my affection since I discovered he was not the homey nature poet so many think, but an earthy, skeptical, diffident spirit in nature.  The New England farmer persona suited him well.]

Riding the W&OD in early August, as summer flares out with a special brilliance, all things remind me that “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”  But as I went looking for some reassurance that we don’t have to break out the parkas quite yet, I found a profusion of blossoms, all in close proximity to the trail.  Twenty-four in all, indeed.  I am sure there were dozens more that my eye didn’t catch, but I’m offering a select few to indicate the variety we have here in Virginia.  I’ve tried to select those that are truly mid-summer, despite one harbinger of fall.  My official wildflower advisor in unavailable this week, but if anybody recognizes something I’ve left unnamed, please let me know.

The oven bird’s “question that he frames in all but words / Is what to make of a diminished thing.”  Here’s what I make of it.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012 (text and photos).

“Leaflets three / Rub on me”? No, that’s not it. Let’s see . . .

Red Clover, simple mainstay for some solitary bees

Beautiful, tiny white blossoms on elegant stems.

Black-eyed Susans, the quintessential summer bloom.

Cornflowers, the roadside mainstay.

The trail is so crowded with these that locals have dubbed the hill crest between Cedar Lane and Vienna a “Monarch butterfly preserve.”

Crown Vetch, the non pareil invasive species.

Mullein,widely acclaimed for its medicinal properties.

Anticipating fall, its the overwhelming Goldenrooaaaaachooooo.

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