Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Burst of Spring

Last Sunday (May 5) was my birthday; let's just leave it at that.  Kali said that she hadn't planned anything special for me, so she said I could choose the venue for a hike.  Though it's hardly a hike (the paths total only 1.2 miles), I chose to go to Jenkins Arboretum to enjoy the splendor of spring.  The arboretum is renown for its impressive collection of azaleas and rhododendrons (mostly non-natives), but the masses of flowering shrubs are overwhelmingly beautiful nonetheless, so we visit in early May each spring.

Along one of the paths
The arboretum had been a private estate, and its owners had amassed this collection over many years.  Now, the site is managed by a non-profit organization.  The organization has built a beautiful, soaring visitor center with meeting rooms and administrative offices, but the real treats can be found along the paths.

Cloudless canopy
The arboretum continues its commitment to azaleas and rhododendrons, adding new varieties every year, but it also focuses on native wildflowers and showy flowering plants from the northern Piedmont.  The paths are lined with native spring ephemerals and ground covers.

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
Unfurling fronds
A study in orange and magenta
In a shaft of sunlight

A small stream flows along the western edge of the arboretum.  The heavily shaded hillside above the rill is dedicated to deep woods, moisture loving wildflowers and ferns.

Kali and the birthday boy
The arboretum encompasses 17 acres.  It is completely surrounded by deer (and neighbor)-proof fencing.  As Kali and I walked the paths, I only noticed one tiny patch of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), an invasive non-native plant - no other weed anywhere!  As we were leaving, I approached an employee who was directing traffic in the parking lot to ask him a few questions.  He was the chief propagator for the arboretum.  I asked him if the garlic mustard had been left along the path on purpose for aesthetic reasons.  He said, no, that he was aware of its exact location, but that the staff just hadn't had time to remove it yet.  I also asked him about the size of the horticultural staff, to which he replied that there were three full-time gardeners working on the property, and that he spent some time in the gardens, too.  Let's see...the arboretum has 3-1/2 employees to take care of 17 acres, and I have 4 stewardship employees to take care of 810 acres in my preserve.  Hmmm...

Oh, and did I mention that this wonderland is open to the public without charge?


packrat said...

Great images here, Scott, particularly the one of Kali and you. The one of the Fiddlehead is especially striking.

John Gray said...

As usual you have taken some lovely photos
Belated birthday greetings

Scott said...

Thanks, Packrat. I was a little disappointed by the image of Kali and me. The guy who took our picture had a nice camera, and I thought he was a "pro" who could do the setting justice, but I had to coach him all the way to what I consider a pretty mediocre image.

Scott said...

Thanks for the birthday greetings, John. I was 61 last Sunday.

robin andrea said...

Wow, it's pretty spectacular there. What a great way to spend your birthday. Looks like it was a truly happy one. I'm writing this comment on my 61st birthday. Cheers!

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: If you looked at the comments, you may have noticed that 'twas my 61st, too.