Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blue blue hills

A hike in the Blue Hills reservation right outside Boston. Another incredibly warm, pleasant November day.
The trail moves steady upwards.

Tiny pine trees are actually mosses

 A confused blueberry bush is in bloom

The Boston skyline from top of the hill - it looks so small and insignificant from up here. This magnified picture makes it look bigger and closer than it is.

Small blueberry shrub hiding from the winds

I have to come back in summer to see if the bushes are full of blueberries.


Trailing dewberries, a raspberry relative

On the way down there were fragrant sweetferns

Down by the parking, I saw a lot of the invasives that I want to fight so hard... This one you might actually find in your own back yard - Winged Euonymus or Burning bush. It's widely planted everywhere because of it's gorgeous fall color.  If you have one, please dig it up and replace with some beautiful native Highbush blueberries or Dogwood shrubs which can rival its fall color. Don't put it in your compost! The berries are eaten by birds and spread in the wild, but although the birds like to eat them, it does not have the same nutritional value as the plants that have evolved together with our birds for millenia, and no insects - the base of the food chain everywhere - are eating it.

Another invasive is Oriental Bittersweet - strangling both small and big trees and breaking their limbs with its weight. This sad mess is a common sight along road sides and in waste places everywhere in New England. The berries were once used for ornamental decoration, and they are very pretty indeed. But I don't see that anymore, since I'm so saddened by the sight of the impenetrable mass it creates.

And on the subject on invasives, another one that is just as bad as the others is Multiflora rose. Green, thorny scraggly stems form thickets and mounds in woods and along streams. No other vegetation gets a chance.

But even parking lots have their share of beauty. This little tamarack tree has warm yellow, soft needles.

 Aster seeds and Meadowsweet
 Old dead tree - home to countless insects, rodents, birds and other critters

Tall, silvery, slender trunks.

In my neck of the woods

Has fall ever been this beautiful? And has November ever offered such gorgeous, warm Indian summer days? I'm immersing myself in colors getting more radiant every day. The pull is irresistible - out, out, and out some more. Luckily I don't have to go far to be warmed by the glowing gold. At the end of my street is the park. The more I look the more I see, by leaving the paths and wander in among the trees instead. No risk of getting lost - the road is visible almost all the way, but only a few steps inside the fence and off the trail, discoveries are waiting. In only 20 minutes of walking I found the most amazing palettes.

Last walk's spicebush and poison ivy leaves are gone by now, and instead we have beeches and maples glowing their hearts out.

A few Sassafras trees are still holding on to their leaves

Red and black oak are also on fire.

 American Hornbeam - a small tree also called Ironwood or Musclewood. Pleasant soft orange, fuzzy leaves.

I also found a small Tulip tree! 
Tulip trees are tall, flowering forest trees with flowers that resembled tulips to the European settlers. It has unusual leaves with 4 divisions. I almost wondered if it had been planted there? One can never know with a park of this kind, where many people have ideas of how they want it to look... I saw that someone had been busy pulling out invasive Buckthorn trees. I wish I knew who - a kindred spirit!

Farther down by the golf course some sun-loving shrubs grow. Blackberry brambles are burgundy-purple

and this Dogwood shrub - maybe Silky dogwood? has the most beautiful red stems and leaves.