I’ve been spending far too much time pulling up nasty plants like garlic mustard, so this morning I took a walk through the part of our woods that isn’t overrun with invasives. The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is just coming into bloom. It is breathtaking every year, and this one is no exception. I thought I would share some pictures.
Our Mountain laurel is out along the creek in a beech-maple forest. For the most part, it grows just inside the woods. The tallest plants are up to 10 feet or more in height. Spots right along the creek are occupied by sweet pepperbush or clethera (Clethra alnifolia) and some of the blueberry/deerberry (Vaccinium spp.) relatives that I haven’t sorted out yet. The woods is about 10 or 12 feet above the water at high tide.
The flowers are carried in corymbs, and crimped, starry buds open into pleated bowls. Most of our plants have white flowers, although I saw a plant or two with pale pink ones. I need to take my Macro lens out into the woods to try to get a better picture of the individual flowers.
Despite the delicate looking flowers, these are tough plants. They’ve had a hard time with summer droughts in recent years. Plus snow loads and crashing trees have splintered branches and trunks. Fortunately, they resprout from very mature wood. If you look closely at the base of this plant, you’ll see lots of new sprouts. I was happy to see regrowth everywhere.
I surprised a young eagle out on the point, and I also heard a great blue heron flap away across the creek—their prehistoric croaking is an incredible sound. Pileated woodpeckers called and drummed in the treetops, although I didn’t spot any of them. Finally, this lovely box turtle crossed my path. He would only stick out the tip of his nose for a picture, but he is actually one of the largest ones I have ever seen. Very handsome!