Tramping about in the woods looking for and managing Tree of Heaven and Honeysuckle during the winter provides an opportunity to witness some of the rarer sights Pocahontas has to offer. Mushrooms are common enough as a group, but the Chicken Mushroom below is not so often seen. This cluster is hiding on the back side of a tree near one of the park trails. The second photo is an attempt to capture Mistletoe at the top of a tall oak tree. Mistletoe is uncommon in the Piedmont and has not been officially recorded as present here.
Last year at some point we installed a recycled-brick edging around the landscape bed at the CCC Museum. Its primary purpose is to define what is “bed” and what is “lawn”, enabling us to better manage the weeds in the bed. Encouraged by how well that has turned out, I felt that the same technique could be used around the uphill side of the Rain Garden (the downhill side is already defined by the water control berm). Today we installed this edging, shown below, using bricks reclaimed from brickwork of outdated and demolished park structures.
Our only other garden maintenance of note today was to move a fence-wire tree protector from the CCC Field where it was no longer needed, to the Native Plant Garden where the deer have been eating the new shoots off of an elderberry bush. After completing these two tasks, Eric and I rewarded ourselves with a hike around Beaver Lake to inspect vernal pools and take photographs. The Parasol Mushroom was an irresistible photo opportunity.
Someone recently asked me about some black stuff he was seeing on rocks. I noticed this one today and did a bit of research. I thought it worth sharing. The following explanation comes from eHow.com:
"Crustose lichen is the only plant that will grow on a bare rock. This is accomplished by gathering small amounts of water and then in winter when the water freezes, it cracks the rock surface, providing the lichen with minerals and organic materials. Over time this process forms a tiny bit of soil on the rock. These lichen tend to lay flat on their host, looking much like paint splatters, making them hard to remove. They range in color from black, gray, brown, orange, yellow and green. About 75 percent of all lichen in the world are crustose lichen. When dating stone walls and gravestones, scientists measure the radius of this lichen growth since it grows so slowly and lives for centuries."
Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8463741_types-lichen-grow-rocks.html
Dry weather this season has meant fewer fall mushrooms than usual. And as the temperature drops, so does fungus activity. Still, there are a few mushrooms that will fruit late in the year. We have one in the park which seems not to mind the lack of rain, called Many Warts in my mushroom guide. I found a couple of them along the Bright Hope Trail this week, their size making them easy to spot. This fungus is in the Amanita family, many species of which are poisonous, including this Amanita polypyramis. The guide says they have an unpleasant odor. Perhaps that is how wildlife senses the toxicity; this fruiting bodies has not been chewed on, though deer, rodents and insects will eat some mushrooms.
Thoughts on the park, its residents and how to preserve its natural beauty.