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Fresh Pond Native Plant Party

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Red Admiral, Sweet William and Queen Anne—all the celebs are making the scene at Fresh Pond Reservation this morning! It’s a quietly riotous party. 

The robust shuttlecocks of purple coneflower ought to be festooned with butterflies by now. Not sure where they all are, but it seems we have more swallowtails and admirals in Ohio right now than I'm seeing in Massachusetts. 

I’m surprised to see Joe-Pye weed already in bloom. It has yet to come out at home, though we’re considerably farther south in latitude. 

Much as I love its wifty plumes and the way it sings with chicory, white soapwort and QAL, I can’t say I was happy to see the first early goldenrod coming into bloom. My associations with goldenrod and autumn are far too strong. I sigh and decide to accept it, if not celebrate the headlong rush toward the end. After all, September and October are among my favorite months.

I’m happy to see the yellow buttons of tansy teaming up with chicory and QUAL for another salute to Sweden. Tansy is a pretty plant, and smells so good when you rub it on your arms. It’s said to repel ants and mosquitoes. We don’t have it in Ohio. Whoops, Googling it on a slight suspicion that it's not native, I find it's considered yet another noxious weed from Eurasia. Gawrsh. All three of these are considered such. 

Sometimes I wonder when we will just lie down and accept that we have a global flora, a global fauna. Even as I fight tooth and nail against Miscanthus grasses and Japanese stiltgrass, wisteria and ailanthus and Japanese honeysuckle, garlic mustard and creeping Charlie. Never, I guess. I freely admit to a bias for the pretty ones. I'm dumb that way.

Hodge and I find four young Canada geese stranded and looking longingly out at Fresh Pond from behind a low chain link fence. The gate is closed and locked or we’d open it for them. A terrier mix, running off lead, rushes in and starts to snap at their tails, totally ignoring the yells of his owner. Hodge and I rush to stop him. Grrrr. Come on, woman, get control of your durn dog. The geese seem unable to fly over the three-foot fence; perhaps they’re in molt. Their wings look fully feathered. Hmm. Perhaps they’re just having an attack of the dumbs.

photo by K.H. Macomber
Follow @khmacomber on Instagram for a daily visual treat!

 I sidle up, stand next to them and make clear pictures in my head of me helping the geese over the fence. I ask their permission to help them. The nearest bird allows me to reach down and grab it with little protest. I hoist it up over the fence and toss it into the air, expecting it to plane down into the water, which is about 3' below the concrete berm on which they stand, gazing out longingly. Then, I figure, I'll quickly toss the other three over the fence to join it. It flies out over the water and immediately doubles back to land with its friends again on the wrong side of the fence. Thank you, but no thank you; I don’t want to go without them. Because there’s no way I can catch and toss all four at once, I give up. We go inside the nearby visitor’s center and Hodge leaves a sticky note for the park ranger, asking that the gate be opened for these poor, seemingly witless birds. Knowing how intelligent Canada geese are, I can’t help but think that there’s something going on here I don’t understand, something to do with the fence height and the fact that the water level is too far below the berm for them to feel comfortable dropping into it. Much as I want to help them, I can't.

I like the little lost mateless shoes. Liam left a trail of those as a babe.

 Thus ends our visit to the spectacular native plant showrooms of Fresh Pond Reservation. Workers and volunteers, I salute you! Thank you for showing us what a moist prairie meadow looks like. We’d almost forgotten.


It sounds like a lovely place. I have goldenrod and Joe Pye weed in my yard, but it is not in full flower yet as it is in Fresh Pond. Since I'm quite a bit south of it, I would think we'd have it in bloom here first. NOT that I'm rushing the seasons! I'm not finished with summer yet!

I hope those geese eventually made it to where they wanted to go.

Posted by Anonymous July 28, 2015 at 3:52 AM

I adore all these blooms! It seems almost peak in north central Ohio right now too and we are just loving it. :)

Is that tansy the same as tansy ragwort? If so, you should have yanked it out; it is quite toxic to livestock.

Well, there's no livestock at Fresh Pond, and the admixture of poison ivy and the sheer volume of tansy growing there would be a good deterrent, even if I'd known tansy was a noxious weed at the time. :) Wonder if it's as easy to yank out as garlic mustard? I'll know next time!

First off, I thank you for the Instagram shout out. Clearly it is my favorite form of communication with the world. And yeah, I'm a big fan of the JZ bump!

Second, a tweak: I think I can best be described as having been the hanger-backer and photo-documenter, waiting to see what my crazy friend would do with those Canada Geese. I cannot even vaguely imagine walking up to a Canada goose and picking it up, letting alone tossing it over a fence!

Finally, an update: pretty sure I saw the big turtle we lifted the snow fence for, happily lollygagging in Black's Nook (or, if you prefer, black snook!)

xoxoHodge, aka @khmacomber in certain circles...

Posted by KH Macomber July 29, 2015 at 6:18 AM
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