Brookside Wildflowers

I enjoy the boardwalk between Brookside Gardens and Brookside Nature Center in the spring. Earlier this week the boardwalk was my short walk before by shift in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. There are many native plants in this area that are looking good this spring. The plants are growing luxuriantly at this point – many in bloom.

Clumps of columbine


Jack-in-the-pulpit (but they are green…sometimes hard to see)

Mayapples (the flower is sometimes hidden under the umbrella of leaves)

Skunk cabbage (with cypress knees poking up among the leaves)

Several kinds of ferns

Forest azaleas

And others.

Of course there are birds too….red-winged blackbirds are calling everywhere and robins are searching leaf mulch for a tasty worm!


It was a productive 10-minute photo shoot!

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - Part I

I spent last Friday at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) near Edgewater MD. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources had organized the day and announced it to Master Naturalists. It was a day well spent! When we were not hiking, we were in a classroom in the Mathias Lab Building, a LEED platinum facility complete with solar panels and geothermal wells.

The first lecture of the day was about spiders (and other creepy crawly critters) that sometimes are unappreciated or frightening to some people. I find myself being more interested in looking closely at spiders – although when one crawled across the ceiling of my bathroom there was still a cringe.


The first critter we saw as we gathered for our hike after the lecture was a spider almost hidden by a funnel shaped web. There were others along our route as well but they are notoriously hard to photograph.

Some of the high points of the hike for me were: Indian pipes (a non-photosynthetic flowering plant),

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Wintergreen (a plant that I’ve probably seen before but didn’t know what it was),

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The summer version of the jack-in-the-pulpit (the seeds have not turned red – yet),

A click beetle,

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Several kinds of ferns (some with spores), and

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Then out on the boardwalk to Hog Island where the phragmites is surrounding a shrinking area of cattails.

I’ll continue this post about my day at SERC tomorrow….

Backyard Walk – May 2018

Last month I posted about violets and spice bush. On an walk through the yard this week, I still say plenty of violets blooming and

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The spice bush was beginning to unfurl leaves. I hope there will be some spicebush swallowtails around this summer to produce several generations of butterflies in our forest.

The maple seeds are drying and will swirl away from the tree soon. The black walnut is beginning to unfurl its leaves. There are multiple leaves that unfurl from the buds on the tips of the stems as well as along it. The bud scars from last year are often visible. The tree lags the tulip poplars leafing out.

The high point of the walk around the backyard was not actually in the yard…it was just into the woods: A Jack-in-the-Pulpit! There are so many invasive plants in the forest that I always am relieved when I find a native making it through another spring. I'll try to pick a good day to spray myself with insect repellent (to keep the ticks away) and walk back into the forest before the prickle bush gets too thick to look for more native wildflowers.

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The sycamore buds have just pops…with leaves too tiny to be very interesting yet. I’ll save it for the June post.