November 28, 2012
August 21, 2012
The following are some plants growing and blooming right now in St. Louis’ excellent Botanical Gardens. After a rather rough summer, the weather has cooled and gotten a little wetter, though we are still in drought conditions. Nonetheless, the late summer and early fall blooming plants are looking pretty good, at the gardens at least. Above, Liatris, don’t recall the species. Blazing star in the vernacular.
A Missouri native, Silphium terebinthinaceum, one of my favorites. Everything about this plant is nifty- great big luxurious leaves, remarkably tall spindly flower stalks, beautiful flowers.
Lamb’s ears, Stachys byzantina.
Aquilegia chrysantha, golden columbine.
Salvia of some sort, I think.
Lamb’s ears leaves, up close.
Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower, another Missouri native.
June 1, 2012
These sunflowers, and various other plants, seem to have volunteered themselves in a disturbed empty lot along Manchester Avenue in the far western corner of the city of St. Louis, a little before Maplewood. Manchester runs through the valley of the River des Peres, which, despite the grandiose name, is these days a large concrete ditch with trickling polluted water. The valley, besides being home to Manchester Avenue, is a patchwork of abandoned green spaces, industrial plant, railroad yards, and, in the area proximate these sunflowers, struggling strip malls. A nearly defunct K-Mart is down the parking lot, along with long lonely stretches of blank facades. I don’t know what used to be in the lot these plants are flourishing in (well, blooming prolifically, at least- they are rather short, perhaps a result of soil deficiencies). There are concrete bits and blocks; the ground has been moved about relatively recently. Perhaps those disturbances awoke or encouraged the plants that have sprung up here this year; perhaps someone seeded the sunflowers as an act of random beautification. My guess would be the former; the other plants are usually classified as ‘weeds’ and do quite well for themselves, with or without human intervention. At any rate, this little patch of green and yellow is, it goes without say I think, a marker of the resiliency of the natural world, and the continual possibilities and life that so often lies just under the surface, waiting.
June 14, 2011
June 9, 2011
June 4, 2011
December 27, 2010
It was a white Christmas in Knoxville this year; the third snow of the season, which is a lot for this part of the world. The high country to the east of the city has been snowed under now for the better part of a month, give or take a few days of warming spells. While we have promise of warmer weather come New Years (and perhaps a less frigid Epiphany than the last couple of years, which made for very chilly Blessings of the Waters), the snow is still lingering even under the radiance of the sun.
November 21, 2009
October 16, 2009
Fall is nearing the peak of color here in the Southern Appalachians this weekend, or at least we suspect it is. Despite spending the day in the Smokies, my comrades and I caught very few glimpses of the mountains themselves, other than the bits (wet and muddy!) beneath our feet, as the hills were living up to their name and sat wrapped in mist and cloud all day. Still beautiful, as I hope you’ll judge from the photos below.
This fall is cooler and wetter than last year; it was nearing freezing in the highcountry when we left this evening, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the year’s first snowfall occurs this weekend. Even here in the Tennessee Valley we are supposed to reach near freezing for the next several nights. Winter is looming up close by; last winter had some bitterly cold (spectacular in the mountains) stretches, and we imagine this winter will be even deeper and colder.
If you do feel compelled to visit these mountains in the fall (the loveliest on the continent, by my lights, but I’m biased), do be warned that the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge entrance to the Smokies is absolutely hellacious this time of year. The other entrances, and the rest of the Southern Appalachians really, are comparatively decent and less congested.
On the way up the Trillium Gap Trail, on the slopes of Mt. LeConte.
The trail along Brushy Mountain, a spur of Mt. LeConte covered in dense heath bald; some days with lovely views, but today socked in with cloud.
Grotto Falls, on the way up the Trillium Gap Trail.
Spider web up on Brushy Mountain.
Grotto Falls from the other side of the creek; the trail passes behind the falls and stays fairly dry in the process.