Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day

I hope wherever you are this first day of May has a spring-like quality to it.

Speaking of “days”, reports that the 2nd week in May is Wildflower Week. I love it, since at least in the East where I live, this is the height of the wildflower season.

Many years ago, I decided to go on a Wildflower Hunt. In a period of 6 weeks (from the last week in April through the first week in June) I visited over 20 Connecticut State Parks, Preserves and Nature Centers searching for the elusive and mysterious wildflower. And, it was during this 2nd week in May that I found the most wildflowers, all on a one-half mile trail. The surprising number of 35 was thanks to the two friends who accompanied me, along with their three wildflower guidebooks.

This amazing place is The Botany Trail at Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust in Woodbury, Connecticut. Here is what I say about the Botany Trail in Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket:

“This hunt also appeals to novices in the group. In fact, anyone who enjoys a spring walk will savor every step along the one-half mile woodland trail interspersed with a pond, streams, and open meadow. Wildflowers are everywhere, from the common phlox and violets adorning the edge of the trail to the pink lady slippers hiding in thickly-wooded areas and wild columbine flourishing near shaded rocks. Indeed, at every turn there is startling evidence of both the bounty and beauty of this nature center. My personal favorite is a cluster of painted trillium, the tip of each perfect white petal delicately brushed with a palette of pale pinks. What an exquisite contrast to the monochromatic woods and stone fence sharing this space.”

Another favorite of mine is Connecticut College Arboretum Native Plant Collection in New London, Connecticut, for two reasons. First, the variety is large but the hunt is easy due to the identification markers along the boardwalk trail, and second, because the 25-acre collection of trees and shrubs in addition to wildflowers makes this a destination suitable for all seasons. By the way, May 16th is Love a Tree Day and I can’t think of a better place to find a tree to hug.

Although I didn’t have any youngsters with me I have often thought this would be a wonderful way to introduce them to wildflowers. They will love getting into the "hunt” using a color-coordinated wildflower identification book to identify a blossom they found. This is a fun, no-cost outing that parents and children can enjoy together.