Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Landscapes

Woods at Pearson's Falls
The return trip from Tarpon Springs is long so I made a stop at my friends in Tryon, North Carolina where I spent the blizzard last Christmas. They wanted to meet Limo while he was a pup and this made it a nice break in the drive and a time to catch up with old friends.

The Carolina's are wooded places with wondrous wildflowers. Not far from Tryon is a very special place called Pearson's Falls. It is run by the Tryon Garden Club and is located in Saluda (yet another town). The people who run this place are a bit snooty and they give you a nice brochure when you pay your admission and a yellow paper with all the things you can't do printed for your pleasure. Stay on path, watch your step, no wading, no pets (sorry Limo), no trash, no diapers ( in case you decide to change yours!) and on an on with a $50.00 fine if you break any of these commandments.

I suspect they have reasons for fear, but of course the things you can't do have nothing to do with the impending doom to this area. Pearson's Falls is a Smithsonian Institute Archive Garden. In it are located over two hundred species of native plants in a ravine that is maybe a block or two wide and possibly a mile long. A very special place it is

Cardinal Flower along stream bank
You meander up a stream path and see a lot of garden plants in their original species variety and habitat. That is to say no cultivars. Only the real McCoys. It was fairly moist and at least ten degrees cooler in the ravine than in the neighboring exposed countryside. Ferns, walls of ferns where trickling rivulets flowed covered some of the ravine.

Native impatiens. Nothing like the tropical one we grow in our gardens.

The walk meandered on both sides of the stream exposing us to a variety of plant material and flowers. This was late in the season and it was surprising how much was still in bloom. My camera was confused and could not focus in the shade so I lost a lot of the shade loving flowers. Regardless, here are more of these great wildflowers.

Native Hydrangea less fussy than the garden variety but very elegant

There were unique flowers that you could only guess at and no labels or plant list to help you out.
A great many varieties of delicate maidenhair ferns

Eventually you made it to the falls and got to see what whole hoopla was all about. In reality the falls are nice enough, but for me the place was more exciting and certainly the plants provided an education in habitat and original species.

Road is kept clear with chemicals Kudzu is above and below road

Leaving the Pearson Falls we took another road. It provided a fascinating look at what happens when we don't do our homework: Kudzu. I have never seen it this up close and on the attack. I have seen the odd clump near home but because we have a colder climate it does not have enough time to regenerate. The Carolinas are not so lucky. Their summer is longer and as the birds keep eating the seeds and crapping them everywhere, Kudzu is omnipresent!

Up close the vine is like any other. It has a nice flower and fragrance. It was introduced from Asia in the Southern States for slope stabilization in the late 1800. Well, it has stabilized the slopes and apparently it is doing so adding about 150,000 acres a year ( if you can believe Wikipedia ) and a patch was discovered in southern Ontario, Canada. All I can tell you is that it is everywhere in the Carolinas. They spray it with herbicides and kills the leaves, but the crowns remain intact to grow again. I was told that in some places they let goats on it who eat it all up, crowns and all. Although I wonder how many goats it would take to control a plant that is spreading by 150,000 acres a year?

Sea of Kudzu

These two landscapes are not compatible. Maybe Obama's strategists should attack Kudzu on a head on assault and put those Obama bucks to work and give people jobs clearing up this mess. With what must be millions of acres around this country and the apparent anti-foreigner sentiment in the land, we may want to attack this truly menacing Asian invader. I suspect we will need Mexicans to do this work too because it will be grueling work and as Americans have certainly not done it so far. There is enough Kudzu to be removed, and if it isn't, little Pearson's Falls just over the hill, may not be a Smithsonian Garden Archive for too much longer! Happy Gardening.

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