Welcome to the Winter Walk-Off post for 2018. Every year I participate in my friend Les' blogging meme of the Winter Walk-Off. The rules are still very basic- leave your yard/garden and share what you see along the stroll, no pictures of your garden (though I have been known to include one or two!) Take pictures of things that you find interesting and say goodbye to winter!
On with the walk. We, Charlie and I, walk every day. Our neighborhood is a gated community with acre sized lots, about a quarter of the lots have homes. We walk in the middle of the road and barely ever have a car go by. The photo above it about a half of a mile from our house. While they aren't up yet, in the field to the right, along the tree line, is a stand of ferns. I think they are Bracken ferns, Pteridium aquilinum, but haven't ventured into chigger territory to find out. I do look at them longingly from the edge of the road.
In the photos above and below are some of the sweetest little spring ephemerals, Houstonia caerulea, common names are Quaker Ladies, Azure Bluets or just Bluets. They grow along the edge of the road all through our neighborhood. They vary in color from white to dark purple.
When Les first posted the start of the meme, it was warm here in the Upstate of South Carolina. We were walking in shorts. I started taking pictures 3 weeks ago and just now am finding a second to write about our walk(s). As you can see below, we walk with Liebling, our 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd. She is about 80 lbs. of pure energy. Walking her a lot is critical.
Our road curves and bends around the contours of the lake, and in a marshy cove area is the tree pictured below. At each season over the years I have tried to figure out what tree it is. To the best of my knowledge it is a Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra. Flowers and fruits are now evident but difficult to photograph. One day I will get a great photo of this tree and share.
We have lots and lots of Winged Elm, Ulmus alata, growing wild and rather scrubby looking. Winged Elm have corky 'wings' along the branches, hence the name. When they are bare in the winter the branching looks very architectural. The one below is covered with seeds (fruit), many that will populate far and wide.
Almost swallowed up by the trees around it is a native deciduous holly. Probably Ilex decidua or commonly called Possumhaw. You can barely see the red berries.
Also visible in the winter months are the vines that kill trees- Lonicera japonica- Honeysuckle. See how the vine has cut into the young tree? It won't last too many more years with that strangle hold.
Those who have been walking with me on these Winter Walk-Offs each year may remember Skyler, our Australian Shepherd. He is still walking with us on the after lunch short walk. He kind of reminds me of Eeyore, just plugging along at 14 years old. Also walking with us is my Mother in law, who lives with us now. She is a spry 96 and walks a 3/4 mile stroll, daily. Use it or lose it!!
The progress of the season has exploded over the last three weeks, below is a native plum (I think) Prunus americana. Same tree, left and right....amazing how quickly the blooms pop.
Old trees are also interesting when they are sporting a hole or two. We have lots and lots of woodpeckers in the forest and are often serenaded by the Pileated Woodpeckers on our walks. Their calls sound like monkeys in the jungle....it is wild out here!
This tree below will possibly be gone within the next year as this lot was recently purchased and the new folks are planning on building. Sorry to lose some of the forest for new homes.
I hope you have enjoyed the signs of spring in the Upstate. Don't forget to check out other blog posts on the Winter Walk-Off - all links can be found at A Tidewater Gardener