Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens – June 2019

The plants that are the main attractions during  the June and July at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens are the lotuses and the water lilies.

The lotuses were in full bloom in the later part of June when we visited but there weren’t many seed pods yet.

I also found a rolled-up lotus leaf that was interesting. The leaves are round, balancing on a central stem but they start out as a scroll like structure that unfolds. This one was still tightly coiled. I might use it as a prompt to create a Zentangle pattern.

 The water lilies did not seem as dense as they have in previous years and I wondered if the rains and cool temperatures earlier this summer impacted the water lily development.

The button bush was beginning to bloom; I didn’t notice any seed pods yet. There is a ways to go before all the flowers are pollinated…lots of bee activity.

Two trees stood out:

There was a group of developing pine codes high up in a pine near the entrance and

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Some shelf fungus growing around a knot (maybe where a branch had been). It looks a little like a bear face to me. I’d noticed it last year too. The shelf fungus look more cracked this year but they still have the orange underneath.

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I heard green frogs and searched the shallows from where the sound seemed to emanate….but never  saw the frog.

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A pearl crescent butterfly opened its wings as it sat in the grassy path and paused long enough for me to get a picture.

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We saw two different kinds of turtles (identified with the help of a reference from Maryland Department of Natural Resources): a small red-eared slider (not native to our area but invading) and

A large northern red-bellied cooter – which is native to our area. It was a large specimen. I wondered how long it had taken to get that big…about 12 inches.

Both ponds had a lot of algae and muck so the turtle shells looked grubby but the heads were vey distinctive…enough for the identification.

Overall – the field trip to Kenilworth was worthwhile and very enjoyable. We went in the morning before the day got too hot.

Belmont – March 2019

Howard County Conservancy hosted a training session at Belmont for upcoming elementary school BioBlitzes last week. I hadn’t been to the location since January, so I looked around before going into the Carriage House for class. The plane trees (they are like sycamores but are a little different – have some seed balls in pairs rather than single) seemed full of seed balls. We’ve had quite a lot of wind and the fibers holding the balls to the tree look worn at this point. I wondered how long they would stay attached after I saw the zoomed image through my camera.

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It was sad to see the stump of the red maple they had to cut down recently. Evidently it lost a lot of big branches during some of the recent winds. The colors in the stump drew my attention. The tree was not extensively rotten but there were some insect holes. The stump would have to be sanded to count the rings. The tree had been struggling in recent years, but I always pointed it out because it had small branches low enough on its trunk for children to see the flowers and leaves.

It also had a root that was above the surface and been injured by mowers…but still survived.

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I almost always pointed out the red maple to contrast with the nearby sugar maple – which is still standing with some ivy growing on it. It was a good concept for student to think through – how the trees were alike and how they were different…both maples.

The class had an outdoor portion to try out the app and tablets the students would be using. I used the time to take a few more pictures. There were crocuses blooming in the grassy area near the mailboxes.

The wind had blown pine cones and sweet gum balls into the same area.

The pond still looked like it has all winter. The clouds had rolled in while we had been indoors. And this landscape shows the dimness of the day.

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I turned back to the view the manor house and notice a maple that no longer had its upper branches. One of the them was very rotten. But the tree is still blooming!

We headed up to the cemetery and I checked the hemlock. The tree looks like the treatment for wooly adelgid has worked. I tried an experimental shot with a cone highlighted…and blurry branches above and below.

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By the time I am at Belmont again – there will be even more signs of spring.