Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Xray Vision

Ohio Buckeye

The late fall and winter usually send me indoors to hibernate for the winter.  But this year, the seasonal change and a post read on the daily Native Plant and Wildlife Garden blog, gave me a great gift.  XRAY vision!  Yes, I now get to see things I never noticed before through the green foliage of summer.  Look at this Ohio Buckeye tree without its cover coat of leaves.  I now laugh every time I see it.  The drooping, craggy branches remind me of the iconic Halloween cartoons.  Can't you just imagine the decrepit mansion high on a hill in the background.  The moon is just peaking through the wispy clouds and there is eerie music playing in our subconscious mind. 

Without the wonderful distraction of foliage, I can now see the woodland architecture.  I see the dead skeletons of the Ash trees exterminated by the Emerald Ash Borer.  If not removed, they will definitely fall and probably take out some of understory growth.  It would be a shame to lose this new growth to falling Ash trees.  Many tree saplings and other growth have started to take hold now that we've removed the invasive honeysuckle.  I can see one of these Ash trees has fallen into the high branches of a nearby oak.  Others are just getting ready to fall all the way to the ground.  Should I pay to have them removed, or just let nature bring them down?  I don't know.  It's expensive to remove them.  If left on their own, they will fall and decay, eventually returning their energy to the fertility of the woodland.  I'll have to ponder this question, but I see I can't wait too long. 

Gently sloping ravine
Another aspect of this Xray vision is getting to clearly see the topography of our small wooded lot.  It is now easy to see the gentle slope of some areas, while  other sections fall much more sharply into the winding ravine.  (I chuckle, realizing this difference in elevation is a massive 15 feet or so.  Of course, here in Northwest Ohio, this is the closest thing we have to mountains, except for the mounds of dirt supporting the highway overpasses.)  I now realize one of these gently sloping areas is where the drift of Mayapples shows up every spring.  In the summer, the more steeply pitched sections host Virginia Waterleaf, and Black Raspberry plants among others.  The steepest sections are nearly cliffs.  They were probably started when the neighborhood was developed.  Two large concrete pipes jut into the ravine sides, emitting storm water runoff from the streets.  As time has gone by these steepest sections have eroded.  This spring I'll work on establishing native plantings to stop the erosion.  In the meantime, I'll enjoy this superpower of Xray vision to marvel at this natural architecture I've never seen before.

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