Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘forest floor

Not Over

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For all of the leaves that have fallen to the ground already, the autumn show of colors is not over yet. We are enjoying a thrilling pizzazz of fall scenery around our property. The floor of our forest has attained one of my favorite looks.

We now have a carpet of leaves beneath the dwindling canopy of the treetops.

A carpet with a variety of colors splashed across it.

Add a sunset that paints the clouds overhead all purple-y-pink and it started to look like we were wearing rose-colored glasses last night.

What a treat to be able to watch this show evolve right before our eyes and not have to plan a special trip to drive up north or some other place where the fall colors provide such spectacular autumn splendor.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2021 at 6:00 am

Less Color

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Not every plant bursts with color this time of year, but the changes still look cool.

Close to the forest floor, Cyndie snapped this shot of leaves with an eye-catching fade from green to an absence of color.

Walking through the woods yesterday we marveled over the carpet of leaves that are a perfectly distributed parquet of colors in certain sections. Under a few other trees, it’s one dominating color where all the leaves of individual trees dropped in a short span of time.

It’s interesting how they will soon all turn brown and not long after that, the ground will be covered with white.

Less color, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Survey Results

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We walked around in search of trillium yesterday and found mixed results. I think in my next transplant effort I will keep them closer to each other upon replant. Here is a view of three I planted:

No flowers, but the two at the top each have new sets of three leaves appearing beneath them. Is this the expansion underway that I seek? Better than finding none at all. In other locations, we struggled to find all three points of a triangle where I would have planted them. Sometimes two, sometimes only one.

At the same time, we did find several isolated trilliums with flowers located in places where neither of us remembers having transplanted any.

New growth on the ground in the forest is rather sparse this spring, maybe in a reflection of the uncharacteristic dry conditions we are experiencing.

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The photo on the left above is an example of new shoots appearing beneath the one with the flower, which excites us with hope that more could result in the future. The image on the right is an example of a lone trillium with little else of any variety seeming to flourish much.

It just might be a slim year of growth. Yesterday’s passing clouds never spit enough sprinkles out to simply wet the ground surface. We are forced to try to do some watering outselves.

I turned on the water to the labyrinth and we transplanted one more vine from where it was trying to strangle a tree to one of the legs of the gazebo. This will be the first year of an attempt to grow a canopy of leaves as the cover of the gazebo instead of the old canvas that was getting threadbare.

Nothing like trying to inspire new growth during a time of drought.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2021 at 8:51 am

New Trillium

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This time of year the ground in our forests comes alive in response to the sunlight available before the leaves open fully to block much of it out. We have tried transplanting Trillium from the lake place in Hayward with hopes of establishing a thicket of self-expanding sprouts in the groves of trees closer to the house.

In the eight years we have dabbled with the project, the results have been a little anemic. Some seasons there have been encouraging numbers of flowers blossoming on the plants we relocated, but other years there haven’t been very many. During the first few years after transplanting, I was satisfied just to see the leaves show up in proof the plants were still alive.

Now I am more interested in finding some natural expansion of plants to offer some promise of achieving our goals. Just yesterday, Cyndie made an exciting find. Can you see it?

The interesting fact about that single flowering plant is that it showed up somewhere that we didn’t plant a batch.

Today we plan to audit the areas where we planted sets of three individual plants in little triangles to see how those are coming along. If they are flowering, it is easy to spot them. If not, the leaves can be easily overlooked among the variety of other ground cover thriving under all the sunshine temporarily available.

In a surprisingly short span of time, the forest floor will be predominantly shaded under the canopy of tree leaves that will be fluttering overhead.

Speaking of shade from trees, Cyndie also recently captured this image of a great shadow pattern of leafless branches from this young maple tree by the barn.

That view will be morphing very soon to a much less defined depiction of the branches.

The springing of spring is well underway. It makes the brief appearance of trillium blossoms all the more precious. Once the heat of summer arrives, the trillium tends to disappear from sight. At that point, hopefully, the colonies of rhizomes will be busy at work expanding under the leaf cover of the forest floor.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Basically Leafless

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By the time November arrives, our forest is basically leafless. There are always oak trees that hold onto a portion of their leaves all winter long, but for the most part, the rest of the canopy now rests as a glorious carpet gracing our forest floor.

Seems just a blink ago that I was showing off the fall color starting in the trees behind the barn.

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I tried matching the picture yesterday without having first looked back at the original image to see that I had stood back far enough to include the hay-field fence in the first view. Some deft cropping provides a pretty close comparison, regardless.

We lucked out yesterday with sunshine all day long, which allowed Delilah and I to pick off a variety of small projects. With her tethered to the loop in my Carhartt pants, or sometimes to a nearby tree, she shows every sign of believing herself an integral partner in accomplishing my goals.

If she only knew.

Ah, but the added hassles it creates for me is a small price to pay for the look in her eyes and spring in her step as she checks with me to determine which direction we go next.

Having a dog attached by leash when doing chores provides unique perspective highlighting how often I tend to double back for some added tool or forgotten task. I can almost hear her thinking, “We just came from here a second ago!?”

Back and forth, I go, crunching through the deep carpet of fallen leaves.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2018 at 9:38 am

Forest Find

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While Cyndie and I were perusing our woods, collecting materials for the stick fence we are making, I came upon a very picturesque tree. Well, the remains of a tree.

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As much as we like to clean out downed branches in an effort to tidy up our woods, it’s nice to find occasional examples of nature’s course playing out without our, at times, overbearing intervention.

There is something very satisfying about seeing an old tree turning back into the dirt from which it grew.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Springing Considerably

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DSCN4685eThe forest floor is sprouting forth with an abundance of white trout lilies this week. It made me curious about the trillium that we transplanted from our lake place last year. I should have marked them better, because the complete transformation of the woods in a year’s time has me confused now over where I put them.

I planted the “borrowed” trillium in several small groups in a section of woods just below the house. Surveying the area late yesterday, it seemed like the only growth was trout lilies, but I eventually spotted a grouping of the distinctly different leaves.

In a few weeks, flowers will make the trillium much easier to spot.

DSCN4681eUp north, it is obvious how prolific trillium is in naturally propagating to carpet the woods and create a dramatic visual. We are hoping to seed our spaces with enough starters to enable the natural process to do the rest.

After some passing gentle rain showers on Thursday, the pasture that I mowed last weekend is greening up nicely. I strung the webbing between posts yesterday to complete the divider fence that will allow us to rotationally graze the horses on that precious field.

The point where I connected the new webbing to electricity is right at the paddock, and the horses took great interest in what I was doing. I had the charger turned off to work, and while I experimented with several methods of connection, Legacy and Cayenne took turns putting their noses right into the business at hand.DSCN4669e

I sure hope they are keen enough to sense the hazard of doing that when the electricity is on.

Even though they already had a stint on the alley grass earlier in the day, Cyndie talked me into letting them come out on the pasture with the new divider for a short nibble after so patiently watching me fix it up all afternoon.

I can’t really say whether they even noticed the new divider, because their attention was exclusively focused on the succulent green blades immediately available just steps beyond the opened gate.

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

Forest Cleaning

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DSCN4504eIt wasn’t too muddy beyond our trails, among the leaves carpeting our woods, so we took advantage of the favorable weather and did some “forest-keeping” yesterday. Since we were already picking up the branches I had pruned from trees, we got inspired to keep going and clean up some of the years of accumulated fallen limbs and dead growth.

It’s like magic. Once you decide to start picking up branches, there suddenly becomes more branches deserving to be picked up.

We collected a wide variety of them into piles at the side of our trail, to make it easy for chipping later. We can grind them up right where they lay and spread them out to pave the trail for better footing during the muddy season.

DSCN4505eWouldn’t it be nice if we could bring the tractor in there now? But the ground is too soft for the time being.

Timing is everything.

While picking up some branches that had lain there for years, I found myself wondering how I would know when enough was enough. It looked really good in the areas we had cleared, but I felt a desire to avoid trying to make it too pristine.

Cyndie agreed with me that we should seek a good balance of making it look well-tended, while maintaining a certain amount of natural character from the few oddities of limbs or saplings that grow askew or have reason to fall.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2016 at 7:00 am

Old Fence

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While working to widen the trail we created through the south woods, I recently discovered the remains of an old barbed wire fence. There is no obvious logic to the location of this fence. It is in the middle of the woods. There are so many trees in the area that it is hard to imagine what the fence was originally supposed to be keeping in, or out.IMG_iP0685e

Most of the rusty barbed wire had fallen down and was buried out of sight, beneath the dirt, leaves, moss, and fallen branches that carpet the forest floor. Occasionally, it would rise up to a dangerous level that could become a treacherous surprise to an unsuspecting explorer. It was clear that the fence was from a long time ago because I found a tree that had grown up into one strand, eventually swallowing it entirely, and continuing on undeterred.

As I struggled to navigate through thick growth while trying to keep track of the 5 lines of rusted and barbed strands, I came upon an old fence post that still had nails and hooks in it that held on to some of the wires. The post was barely a hint of its original size. It was so weathered it looked more like a walking stick than a fence post.

Working with rusted barbed wire is an onerous task. It often breaks unexpectedly. With much of the wire buried, if it breaks when I am trying to pull it up, I have to delicately hunt through the ground cover in search of the portion that remains.

DSCN2562eWhen it breaks while we are trying to bundle the lengths that have been cut for removal, the number of pointy ends and loose pieces doubles. That’s on top of the ever-present barbs that constantly poke our gloves and catch on every obstacle possible.

Removing it from the middle of the forest is a major hassle, but rusty barbed wire is a hazard we don’t want to have lurking among the trees, so we find that the torturous effort of removing it is worth it.

Now we just have to find a way to conveniently dispose of the bundle. I bet I could find a taker on Craig’s List. I think it belongs in a sculpture by some creative artist.

Someone other than me. I don’t have the patience —or the right gloves— for it.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2014 at 6:00 am