February Warm Spell: Two walks in the park.

After an early February primarily filled with snow and ice, we have hit a patch of warm weather here in Lancaster county. Each day seems a little nicer than the last, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

Photo of moss in the snow
Moss growing on a large decomposing log, with melting snow.

I took this picture of moss growing on a large decomposing log, still partially covered with snow, two days ago near the creek in the woods behind the house. I have become very fascinated with documenting the beautiful fleeting moments that occur as the seasons continue their ancient dance.

With such pleasant weather, my son and I headed out for the park this morning and played in the playground and wandered in the woods. We had a great time, and saw something very interesting. My son was grabbing handfuls of snow and throwing them into the three inch gap between edge of the pond and the ice that still covers the rest of it. Each time he would approach the bank of the pond, dozens of little spiders would scatter. Some of these spiders walked across the water and onto the ice. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on me, so this post isn’t titled “Spiders on Ice”.

Photo of dwarf hackberries hanging form tree
Dwarf Hackberries (Celtis tenuifolia).

This afternoon, I headed back over to the park by my self, to gather some seeds and take some pictures. I stopped at a dwarf hackberry shrub that produced an abundance of fruit this fall, and thankfully there was quite a few still hanging to the branches. The pulp was no longer good to eat, but the seed was probably still viable, so maybe one day we will have our own dwarf hackberry shrubs providing for us and any other wildlife.

Photo of dwarf hackberries and staghorn sumac berries in my hand
Dwarf hackberries and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) berries.

Next I headed down a path, still largely covered with snow, lined on both sides by an assortment of trees, including a large number of staghorn sumacs. Scattered all along the edge of the path were the fuzzy little berries from last years fruit clusters. More seed for some future forest/forage garden.

Photo of evening primrose leaves.
Evening primrose (Oenothera species) rosette.

Finally, headed back around to a sunny spot at the edge of the woods where a cluster of evening primrose grows. Evening primrose forms a rosette (pictured above) it’s first year, then sends up a flower stalk the next. The leaves of the rosette turn reddish in the cold, but will return to green in the spring.

Photo of evening primrose seeds in my hand.
Evening primrose seedpod and seeds.

After the flower stalk dies in late fall, the seedpods dry out and gradually release their seed. This patch still has most of it’s seed in the seedpods, and each stalk has at least a couple dozen seedpods. I gathered a fair amount of seed while leaving the vast majority of it to fall where it may.

Thanks again for reading, please leave feedback if you have a minute, I’m new to this whole thing, and interested in what people think (I know my use of commas is, inconsistent, and usually wrong).

Also, Lancaster people check out the Lancaster Skill Share Collective. They are doing some pretty good work.


* any pictures or descriptions of plants or information about them is provided for your information and inspiration. I highly recommend foraging, but buy yourself a reliable guide like either of Samuel Thayer’s books from Forager’s Harvest Press.

** I rely heavily on Nature’s Garden and The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer, and to a lesser extent Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill. All three books are quite good, however I find Thayer’s work more reliable and detailed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s