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Wild Plants in Winter

As I tried to decide whether or not to buy this land, I looked for botanical signs of the quality of the environment.

From the listing photos (taken in mid-summer), I could tell that there were ferns, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), starflower (Lysimachia borealis), pink lady's-slipper orchids (Cypripedium acaule), common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), and trillium (Trillium sp.). As well as hemlock, birch, and beech trees.

That's actually a lot to go on for a botanist. It told me that the area was fairly undisturbed as New England forests go, with minimal penetration by invasive plants or pollution.

But of course I wanted to know more! Here are some non-woody organisms (herbaceous plants and lichen) I was able to identify to at least the genus level while the land was still mostly under ice and snow. These photos taken in March and early April:

Platanthera orchid (Platanthera sp.) - my treasure of a find!
Ghost pipes (Monotropa uniflora) - a parasitic wildflower!
Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) - one of the earliest bloomers and smells amazing
Eastern teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) in purple-red and partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) in green
Threeleaf goldthread (Coptis trifolia)
Dewberry (Rubus dalibarda)
A woodsorrel (Oxalis sp.)
Heartleaf foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Canadian bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
Intermediate Wood Fern (Dryopteris intermedia)
A polypody fern (Polypodium sp.)
Fungi including Lichen:
Pixie cup lichen (Cladonia sp.)
A beard lichen (Usnea sp.)

Moss and Clubmoss:
Prickly tree-clubmoss (Dendrolycopodium dendroideum)

Interrupted clubmoss (Spinulum annotinum)
Splendid feather moss (Hylocomium splendens)
And all of them native to New Hampshire. What a wondrous world!


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A Land Like This One

On April 12th, 2019 I purchased six acres of hemlock-birch woodland in Windsor, NH. It is covered in boulders and moss and ferns and wildflowers and has a brook running right across it. There are areas of swamp, marsh, and dry woodland both sloping and flat. Plus an ancient outhouse :)

Less than two months passed from my first thought of buying land to close. I fell in love with it from the online listing. It was February, but the photos were from mid-summer. The second photo in the listing showed the brook lush with cardinal flower and ferns - that made me swoon. The third photo showed an enormous boulder - that stole my heart.

I visited for the first time in March. The snow was up to my knees, but I found the seed pods of an orchid species I had never seen before - that sealed the deal. I had to have it.

As the snow has melted, I have only fallen more and more in love with it. I'm an amateur botanist and a wildflower worshiper - this is my heaven.

I intend to share my adventure…

Signs of Spring

Spring comes late in my shady New Hampshire woodland - but it is finally here!

Three weeks ago, the land was still half covered in ice. This weekend, the first wildflowers are blooming, and more are on the way!

The sessile bellwort was the first wildflower I saw in bloom:

That surprised me - I expected the trailing arbutus to be first. But here it is, only in bud:
The first of the painted trillium was also blooming:

And tiny tiny golden saxifrage was flaunting its diminutive flowers. It takes a macro shot to see it properly:

The bluebead lily will be coming soon:

As will the goldthread, also in bud:

The platanthera orchids (Platanthera sp.) are emerging. I'm especially excited about these! From last year's bloom spike and seed pods, I was able to narrow it to something in the Platanthera genus, but I don't yet know which species:

I'm also watching this coralroot orchid (Corallorhiza sp.) - again not sure which species. You can see last year's bloom spike on the lef…

Trip Report: Aug 11

Emily came with me to visit my land this weekend! I took her on the wildflower circuit: brook, marsh, upland boulders, back orchid corner, swamp.

What's blooming?

Both Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) and ghost pipe (Monotropa uniflora) are in bloom. The ghost pipes are everywhere - usually white and sometimes blushing pink:

Pinesap is less common. This is the only one I've seen so far - they're usually yellow but sometimes this lovely pink:

Dwarf St. John's-Wort (Hypericum mutilum) is tiny! I missed it until Emily pointed it out.

Whorled Wood Aster (Oclemena acuminata )

I think this one is Swamp Smartweed (Persicaria hydropiperoides )

Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) flowers are very subtle:

What's in fruit?

I've only found two small patches of Creeping Snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula) on my land. I missed the flowers this year, but the tiny fruit have arrived and they are beautiful.

I had never looked closely at one before - check out the tiny hairs!