The last week of cool mornings and lots of sunshine were too irresistible for walking the trail. We trekked Duck Hunters to Stark, Averill to the Bridge, 8-mile road to 9 -mile road , and 10 1/2 mile road back to 9-mile road. Each, back and forth is 2 -3 miles–so pretty easy.
As anticipated, the fall flowers are bursting out all over. The Early and Late Goldenrod and Grass Leaved Goldenrod are giving way to the colonies of Canada Goldenrod, lurking among them but eclipsed by the sheer volume of the Canada Goldenrod. While it is not in full bloom yet, it is really getting tall and the buds are very promising.
In addition, especially along the area by the Veterans Park entrance from the Rail Trail, hundreds of feet of Tall Sunflower is blooming on one side with as much Joe Pye Weed blooming on the other. Spotted between these huge clumps and sometimes within them are vast arrays of Black-Eyed Susans. There are also small clumps of Boneset and lingering blooms of the Showy Tick Trefoil.
Near the Wetland on Mile 11 of the trail (just after 9-mile road), there is Cardinal Flower and the tiny Slender Gerardia blooming. There is still some Meadowsweet, lots of Black-eyed Susan and Sunflower and Joe Pie as well. Lots of Pasture Thistle is also blooming, so the bees and other pollinators are having a great time. Small stands of Stiff Goldenrod and Rough Goldenrod are found here as well.
By the Meridian Bridge, there is Indian Potato or Ground Nut blooming, and along the sides of the path back to Averill, there is Wild Cucumber and Hog Peanut blooming among the just blooming Virgin’s Bower Clematis. There are also small groupings of Wild Madder clambering above the taller plants and blooming profusely with tiny white flowers. At the Rollway, there is Thistle, Everlasting Pea, Black-Eyed Susan, Cup Flower and Grey-head Coneflower blooming. The largest groupings of Obedient Plant area also between the bridge and Averill Preserve. Hiding in among the other flowers are groupings of Jewelweed–the native Impatiens. The orange pop of color and beautiful lipped flower are really a treat.
Everywhere, the Flat-topped or Tall White Aster is blooming and the occasional Smooth Blue or Starved Aster makes an appearance. The Heath Aster is ready to bloom as well. Among the many Black-eyed Susan and Sunflower (including some Woodland Sunflowers), we are beginning to see the early New England Aster. Judging from the number of buds, this will be a spectacular year for the blue beauties. There is some of the invasive and beautiful Purple Loosestrife, but not in the profusion of past years. American Germander and Stinging Nettle are also blooming. The Tall White Lettuce is beginning to bloom and most of the Canada Lettuce is already gone to seed along with the Horseweed and Nipplewort. A few Great Willow Herb vie with the Purple Loosestrife for attention, since they are the same beautiful color.
The Crown Vetch and Birds Foot Trefoil are beginning to fade. The Bee Balm or Wild Bergamot has finished blooming and is making puffy seed heads above the always present powdery mildew. There are still a few Sow Thistle and Chicory blooming, but most have gone to seed. The Bouncing Bet has made huge clusters of seed heads. Wild Parsnip and Queen Anne’s Lace are making seed heads along with Water Hemlock and Hemlock Parsley. All the grasses and sedges have bloomed and made seed heads as well. It is a great time to be a bird or small mammal.
In bushes, the Dogwoods are in their glory. Grey Dogwood’s white berries are a great contrast to the red stems and the dark green leaves, some already turning red or purple. Silky Dogwood is finally turning it’s berries to the dark blue or purple. The Ninebark has many seeds and some of the bushes have brown to beige seeds but some are a magnificent red. The Sumac blossoms have turned scarlet, red and magenta as the fuzzy seed pods mature. Their leaves are also turning red. There is red and purple on the Maples and some of the Poplar and Birch are beginning to show golden leaves. The Wild Grapes are ripening to a deep purple and the Elderberry are so dark they are like night sky. Maple and Ash seeds are coating the trail and Acorns are everywhere. The cone like fruit of the Witch Hazel beckons the ground squirrels.