Sunday, September 14, 2014

The end of a confusing summer

What better way to sum up the last half of Summer, but this photo from last week.  Here we are in early September, and a Mountain Ash not only has its bright orange berries, but is blooming again.  Throw on top of that a dusting of snow and you get the picture!  Not only is this Mountain Ash blooming, but we have flowers on a Forsythia, which normally is one of the first shrubs to bloom in the Spring.

Our summer rains have really confused the locals, but it's been great for soil moisture and should make for a great Spring wildflower season.  Many of the years with poorer showings are preceded by dry summers and windy dry winters.  What little snow we did get was blown away or melted quickly without really contributing much to the soil.  The soil is very thin on Green Mountain, so it takes a certain tough species to thrive.  Often you'll find natives growing next to rocks.  The heat they absorb probably helps them get going in the Spring, but also the moisture is funneled down to the roots.

Soil Profile on Green Mountain
In the photo above you can see how the top few inches of soil is darker, enriched by decaying plants.  The soil is still rocky, but there's plenty of room for roots tho thrive.  A soil like this can support many grasses and wildflowers.  If you're familiar with the mountain, though, you know that as you hike the trails you'll come across areas that are all cobbles.  This is an old river channel (more about that another time) that left all its gravel in place.  The soils in these areas is much thinner and it takes specialized plants to colonize it.

Fall is indeed upon us, despite the calendar. Sunday looks like a beautiful Indian Summer day, so I'm planning to get out on the trails and enjoy it!  The rabbitbrush is in full bloom, brightening the hillsides, and for another few weeks (hopefully) we can put off the colder weather!

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