Just to get caught up, it looks like a little bit of blog a day for the next week ought to do it. Hopefully it won't be obnoxious, but there are some really cool things that will be lost to the mists of time, and more coming up real soon. So....
Completely out of order, we'll begin with the past few days. I found myself away - just a couple hours north of home. Outside, was a wonderful little wooded area and we wandered around for a bit before dinner the first evening and wound up spending time there every time we went out. The growth was very "short", barely up to my ankles, and much of it was asters, ragweed, and baby sassafras trees, along with other things I didn't recognize. One bush looked like very small ragged wild blueberry bushes. Tasting a berry, it was quite bitter. Another bush had marble sized round green berries, and I couldn't compare it to anything. I don't believe I tasted that one.
But lower, closer to the ground we found some glossy leaves that bugged me. They looked like something familiar... that way that plants I've studied in field guides over the years do, when they've never actually turned up during any outtings. In other words, those I've yet to find.
Oh! Then there were berries! I reached down and crushed a leaf to sniff...Wintergreen! Ah!!! A Bazillion plants scattered over a few acres! And me without my camera. The berries taste just like wintergreen candy, but not quite as sweet. We dug a few plants, and I brought them home with the intent of getting a patch going here. I wish that I'd picked a lot of the leaves and saved them for tea, but it's not that far to return...
In that little woods, there were trees covered with chrysalises and sort of mud-pack combs. There were huge rock formations and incredible mats of mosses. There were bushes of a rhododendron appearing plant ready to bloom which I now suspect was Labrador tea, and so many really interesting plants. It is amazing to me that traveling 100 or 150 miles can make such a huge difference in the flora. Even the trees were different, with an abundance of birches and beeches compared to our oaks and maples. There were oaks, but different varieties than I am accustomed to. In any case, I want very much to return in the spring to see what emerges from that woods. It was so beautiful, and so full of life.
Not having a camera OR a field guide, I wanted to pinch off a piece of this plant to identify. Does anyone have any idea what it is? This pic is about lifesize. The leaves are about 2" long and then get smaller toward the top, or near the flower bud.As I pinched, the whole thing came up, and the roots are underground runners that were buried lightly under decayed leaves. I hope it survives, as it will be planted out first thing in the morning.
What a great getaway! Walking in the woods was just the icing on the cake - but yummy wintergreen icing :-).