Crow’s Nest: The natural garden

July 26, 2020

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

This is a gorgeous time of year for us, the second major peak of wildflowers after the spring ephemerals. There is a lot to see blooming out on the preserve, from our wet meadows to, well, our wet meadows. That’s where you’ll find the milkweeds, blue vervain, Joe-Pye weed, butterfly weed, New York ironweed, cardinal flower, blue lobelia, boneset, turtlehead, Canada lily, and more.

But if you don’t have the time or inclination to explore the whole preserve, at least stop by the gardens around the visitor center. (We’re sorry that the visitor center and restrooms are still closed!) Walk through the woods from the parking area and you’ll come to the barn, with a slope of wildflowers designed by Aubrey Smith.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is dominant right now, but there is also mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, foreground below) which attracts so many pollinators and has blue-green foliage.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

There are swaths of black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.)

Photo: Daniel Barringer

The gardens really set off the building, especially the new addition. And of course what I love most about this garden is that it is difficult to tell where the cultivated, designed garden ends and the natural areas (still managed, but with a very light hand) begin.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Finally, here’s a small bed of flowers (below) at our house on the preserve, a little further north on Piersol Road. Here’s Joe-Pye weed along with the echinacea, along with monarda which has finished blooming, and asters and Jerusalem artichoke which haven’t started. You can see this if you follow the trails that lead back to Piersol Road via our driveway (white arrows on a gray background, starting from the far end of the Creek Trail past the tiny library).

Photo: Daniel Barringer