Lancaster, OH – July 2018 – The Shapes and Colors of Nature

In looking for something today I thought I saw a listing for a Fern Walk at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve near Lancaster, Ohio.

When we arrived and asked about it we were told that they were having a nature walk/hike but it was not specifically for ferns. Initially disappointed it turned out to be much better.

Nora was the naturalist who lead our tour. She was amazingly knowledgeable in all aspects of what we found on our hike. If you stop to really look you will find some great shapes and colors in the woods.

UPDATES – Tom from the nature preserve was kind enough to provide updates as to what each photo was. The Featured Image above is a Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (an orchid)

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Before we started the actual hike we spent some time near a pond.

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While few, the flowers that were present near the pond were very vivid. The flower is a Swamp Rose Mallow – a wild hibiscus (update from Tom)

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Something that looked like straw grew across some of the other growth in the pond.  The “straw” is Dodder – a parasitic wildflower.

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The water lily (?) stood out against the sea of green. Confirmed by Tom to be a water lily 🙂

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Once we started our educational hike we spent time examining all of sorts of things in the woods – like this decaying tree. The shapes resulting from the decay make for an interesting subject.

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The primary purpose of the walk was to identify orchids. Yes, there are orchids in Ohio – just not like the giant ones you see in places like Hawaii.

Unfortunately I spent more time taking pictures and less time listening to Nora so I missed the name of this one – Sorry Nora.

Thanks to Tom’s update I can state this is a Cranefly orchid.

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Another Downy Rattlesnake Plantain orchid.

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Another orchid? I should really pay better attention.

Tom’s update – Green Adder’s Mouth orchid.

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A different looking caterpillar.

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A type of an apple that grows along the ground – a favorite of turtles. This is known as a Mayapple.

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As we progressed we began to see a number of fungi, more impressive ones than our fungi hike we had a few weeks ago.

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There was a large collection of shapes and colors of fungi.

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Some on the dead trees.

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Some residual Virginia Creeper vines.

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More fungi

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A ghost orchid this is not! Tom has identified this as an Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe – a saprophytic wildflower.

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We came across this massive fungi, which looked very cool from the side

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As well as the overhead view.

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Some amazing coloring of shelf mushrooms on a tree.

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More growing up a tree.

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More on a bed of moss.

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Some very large shelf fungi.

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A close up.

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We also came across a small ‘Ring Neck’ snake, which Nora was kind enough to pick up and show us.

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Blue fungi.

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After we completed our hike, we went to a second nature preserve just down the road – Rhododendron Cove.

The sandstone cliffs here are amazing.

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How the preserve gets it’s name – rhododendrons everywhere, up against the 50′ cliff.

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The sandstone always has great erosion patterns.

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A hole eroded from the face of the cliff.

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Amazing ‘honeycomb’ erosion.

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Motivated by Nora’s teachings, we paid attention on our walk back to the car – finding even more along the path through a meadow.

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Go find a local park – there are lots of people like Nora anxious to share their knowledge of the world around us all.

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Cincinnati – June 2018 – Flowering Competition

One thing is certain, there is competition for everything. On this hot Saturday we found ourselves at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati for the annual Daylily competition.

But first we checked out the rest of the historic conservatory.

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The building is fairly small for a conservatory, however when it was opened in 1933 it was one of the best in the country. They do make great use of the space they have.

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As with most conservatories, it was very colorful.

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Normally when you go to a conservatory and go into the tropics areas you feel the heat and humidity, although on this day it was nearly 100 F in Cincinnati so it was actually cooler inside than out.

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They had a great variety of plants.

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The Daylily competition was held in the Bonsai room. Normally the bonsai trees are the center of attention, but not this day!

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There was a separate competition for the centerpieces.

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The colors were very vivid, with many reds and oranges not normally seen on daylillies.

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While a competition, everyone there were very friendly and anxious to talk to you about growing the flowers, and encouraging you to join their club.

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A beautiful start to our afternoon in Cincinnati.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the most visited Natural History Museum in the world. With over 1.5 million square feet of space and 126 million specimens it is the authoritative view on natural history.

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The Hall of Mammals has an extensive collection.

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A map of the world has the population ‘clock’ that constantly updates.

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The Hall of Human Origins has a collection of sculptures of humans over time.

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The Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals has a number of impressive pieces.

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Finally we toured the Ocean Hall.

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Circleville, Ohio – October 2017 – Pumpkin Show

Each year for 111 years the small Ohio town of Circleville has had a Pumpkin Show in October, where people from all over the region bring their giant pumpkins to be crowned king/queen of the show.

While there is much that is pumpkin themed in reality it is about 1000 fried food stands with 20,000 fried food people jammed along the streets. But still how can you not appreciate pumpkin art as a hamburger and fries.

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Pumpkin Pyramid

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Combining the two big events, the eclipse and pumpkins.

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The winner, 1701 pounds of pumpkin.

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And when you have spent all your cash on fried things, you get in the long line for the ATM for more money under the watchful eye of a giant blow up pumpkin.

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Southeast British Columbia & Southwest Alberta – September 2017

The trip continued north into Far Southeastern British Columbia, where we found the town of Sparwood, which was a mining town. It is now home of the ‘World’s Largest Truck’!

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We continued on into Alberta and visited the site of Frank, Alberta. In 1903 the mountain gave way, burying much of the small town in rocks and mud. Today an interpretive center reminds all how mighty nature can be.

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The road to Calgary took us back into the Prairies, but ran along side the Front Range of Alberta.

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Farms were numerous until we reached Calgary.

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Urbana, OH – August 2017 – Cedar Bog

Champaign County, Ohio is the home to Cedar Bog, a nature preserve created by the receding glaciers and the ground water from the Mad River. As a result there is a great deal of vegetation that is not common in Ohio. The result is a beautiful,  but bug filled, boardwalk through the bog.

 

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Rockbridge, OH – July 2017 – Lilyfest

Buried way back a small one lane road in the Hocking Hills is Lilyfest. It is a celebration of one couple’s gardens, adorned with art. What started as a small gathering now has over 70 vendors with artistic wares, two stages for music, as well as the gardens, now known as the Bishop Education Gardens.

Most of the vendors were happy to allow photography of their art. One of the first we visited makes all natural doll, with a clay face, moss, grasses and other natural products make up the rest.

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Not really sure, but it is cool

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The gardens were in bloom providing a bucolic setting, despite the throng of people and vendors.

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Art from old instruments.

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Hanging decorations.

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Air feed plants from South America

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There was a large collection of iron art.

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How they managed to jam all of the cars parked on every available open space of the hills and trees is amazing. Fortunately we were there early enough that we had a good place to park, and enjoyed festival before it was too crowded.