It is 19 degrees with light misting snow right now in Columbus, Ohio. Everything is blanketed in white. Nary a shade of green to be seen in the out of doors - other than some conifers - and it's about this time of year that I always start to miss the flora.
While going through scads of photos the other day researching a project, this one caught my eye. Perhaps because it is the antithesis of the season we are now snowed into. I snapped this shot of Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, on July 1st - another universe from this time of year, botanically speaking.
We have five species of native roses in Ohio, and they all look good. But Swamp Rose may lead the pack in sheer showiness. Just don't try crashing through the stuff. The dense shrubs are heavily armed with stiff downward-curved thorns, and you'll get cut to ribbons for your transgression.
Purple Fringed Orchid, Platanthera psycodes, one of Ohio's 46 native orchids and one of the rarest. I just became aware of this find a month back, when Don Schmenk, manager of the Maumee State Forest in northwest Ohio, tipped me to it. A person who regularly explores the forest hit the jackpot when they found these.
Most of Ohio's orchids are rather nondescript, insofar as orchids go. Don't get me wrong - all of them are cool, and have very interesting floral structures. But most of 'em don't look like this creature. A Purple Fringed Orchid in its full glory is enough to drive an avid gardener mad with desire, made all the worse by the difficulty of capturing one. Many thoughtless and ignorant people do dig plants like this, with aspirations of pinkening the garden with their blooms.
It won't happen, though - wild orchids are notoriously hard to grow, and don't often last long. It's best to leave them in their wild state, and unfortunately it's also necessary to take some care to safeguard locations such as this one.
If you like plants, consider attending this year's Ohio Botanical Symposium on March 26, right here in Columbus. The event typically attracts about 400 people, and is a fantastic opportunity to meet other botanists and learn lots about flora. All the details are RIGHT HERE.