About a week ago, a post complete with a photo of one of our most beautiful wildflowers came across the Facebook airwaves, courtesy of Andrew Gibson. He had just visited an interesting and off the beaten path little fen, and made some of his characteristically stunning images of its rare flora. Check Andrew's blog, The Natural Treasures of Ohio - it's loaded with great stuff.
Andrew's photo reminded me of the 90-acre Betsch Fen; a place that I had not visited in well over a decade, and only once ever. I would think about it a lot, as the fen lies near U.S. 23, which is a major north-south conduit that I often travel when headed to points south. When I saw Andrew's beautiful photo of fringed gentian in full bloom, I knew it was time to finally carve out another trek into Betsch Fen. Last Saturday was the day, and a pictorial essay of the trip follows.
THIS PAPER. Consequently, Ohio Goldenrod and many of its fen or bog vegetative allies have become quite scarce, too.
Fringed Gentians don't poke their stems above ground until late in the growing season, and don't build sufficient momentum to flower until October. There were hundreds of the plants in this fen, and it would not be unlikely to find a few stragglers still holding flowers into November.
You or I are not the only ones to succumb to the lure of the gentian:
TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN
William Cullen Bryant
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean
O’er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o’er the ground-bird’s hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue-blue-as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.