Sunday, June 19, 2011

On the way to Butterfly Valley

I fell into a trap yesterday morning, a trap that is horrible to a naturalist, namely exploring a natural area with a time limit. With summer camp beginning Monday, I felt I had to check out Butterfly Valley, but I only had two hours. Roughly 20 minute driving time each way, that would leave me with 80 minutes among the Pitcher Plants, various lilies, and gorgeous flowering shrubs. I made the mistake of approaching via Blackhawk Road. As soon as I left the paved part, I started seeing flowers. It was impossible not to stop, even though I was eager to get to the Botanical Garden. I am embarrassed to say I spotted a great patch of Red Delphinium on the road cut about 10 feet above eye level and left my engine running while I dashed up to get a quick photo. People who leave their engines running while doing "quick" errands are one of my pet peeves, not to mention they are committing a small crime when doing so. If a 12-year-old hopped in and released the break, it would turn into a more major crime! But, I did it. "Remote dirt road, no one around, it'll only take a few seconds," I thought. Well, as soon as I got close enough to the Delphinium for a photo, I could see over the edge of the cut to a flat area that was full of flowers. I saw the Beavertail Grass, a species of Calochortus, AKA Mariposa Lilies, beautiful specimens of Pine Violet, several different vetches, etc., etc. I forgot about my car and started wandering. When I returned to my car with about 20 kinds of flowers stored as electrons on a chip, I felt a bit sheepish. Not to mention, I now had only about 40 minutes for the Botanical Garden. Several more stops on the way were productive. Some really nice patches of Lemmon's Wild Ginger, Spotted Coral Root, and Hartweg's Iris. Will post some of these later. Will save the actual Botanical Garden adventure for another post this evening.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe, I'm thinking about visiting the Butterfly Valley Nature area on 20 May (at 6:30 that evening there is a annular eclipse). I've been using Google Earth to sort out a good view for the eclipse and it looks like near the intersection of Butterfly Valley Twain Rd & Maxwell Rd there is a clear creak meadow with a good southwest view -- the sun will just be setting over the hill.

    There would be better places just for the eclipse but the wildflowers of Butterfly Valley seem like they would be a great experience earlier in the day.

    It sounds like you drove to the preserve -- is the 20 minutes the time it took out of... Quincy? Just trying to get a sense of the trip and the times.