By Boak Wiesner
Escaping the heat of an early summer morning, I slip into the deep woods of the Wildflower Garden. The dense foliage lets through only a little light which dapples the forest floor. The sun peeps through the leaves overhead.
Here amongst the handful of Hemlocks, I’m reminded of how much this little glen reminds me of the coves in the Smokies. There is a marked contrast between the light green of this year’s new growth and the much darker green of the that of the past. A shaft of sunlight makes the effect even more apparent. Aldo Leopold refers to this growth at the end of the branches the “candle” – how apt!
The fact that I have to look closely to see a gang of seven turkeys picking their way through the woods near me after hearing them for a time well demonstrates how the dappled floor with dead leaf litter can let even big animals be pretty camouflaged.
Some leaves of Swamp White Oak stop me in my tracks – it’s the fact that they’re all chowed down! What makes them so delectable to caterpillars compared to all the other trees around here, I wonder. No other species of tree is so significantly consumed. Could it be that it’s not native, really, around here so the local denizens are going after the novel taste?