Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Secret Garden

 Well, not exactly a secret, but generally overlooked.  In this "garden" amongst a little grove of White Alder trees, there's a slow but steady flow of water that emerges from a pipe that runs beneath the large green practice field, or what used to be a practice field for youth soccer, among other things.  This spot is only a few steps off the paved walkway, and is announced by the above crop of young Corn lilies.
 If you walk into the area, past the Corn lilies, you'll find a small number of Lemmon's Wild Ginger.  The leaves are looking rather scraggly compared to normal water years, and the blossoms are exposed.  During normal water years, the leaves are larger and form a continuous mat which totally hides all the blossoms from view.
 I put my hand in a few of my photos, taken on April 1, to give a sense of their size.
 Lemmon's Wild Ginger is not related to the commercial culinary ginger, but it smells the same.  This wild plant is actually in the Birthwort family, Aristolochiaceae, which also contains the Dutchman's Pipevine.  These plants have been used by native peoples to induce abortions early in pregnancy and/or to facilitate childbirth following a full-term pregnancy.  The active ingredient is actually rated as toxic and carcinogenic, so I wouldn't advise using it to make Ginger Tea or to flavor your stir fries.
 It's a beautiful plant, whose blossoms are usually hiding, and the pattern of veins in the leaves is quite inspiring to anyone who likes to draw or paint interesting leaves.  Once you walk into the spot
supporting the Wild Ginger and face southeast, you'll see another crop of young Corn Lilies.  It's a nice little spot to sit quietly and read or sketch.  No mosquitoes yet.  I almost had a Dan Quayle moment and left out the "e."

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