HORT travels

Exploring the horticultural beauty in every adventure.

Nature’s Toilet Paper

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Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in the wilds of a fallow agricultural field.

Whenever I am headed out on an extended hike to experience primitive conditions (read no electric, no running water, lucky if there is an outhouse… but usually we aren’t so lucky) I look longingly at these plants before heading out into the wild, knowing that once I am in the woods, I won’t be seeing them again. Those soft velvety leaves sure look like they’ll come in handy once the inevitable occurs on a multi-day hike.

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Grey Towers National Historic Site

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Grey Towers Welcome

Grey Towers Welcome

“Without natural resources life itself is impossible. From birth to death, natural resources, transformed for human use, feed, clothe, shelter, and transport us. Upon them we depend for every material necessity, comfort, convenience, and protection in our lives. Without abundant resources prosperity is out of reach.” ~ Gifford Pinchot

Today I take you to Grey Towers. Have you been? For those of you who aren’t familiar, Grey Towers was the home of Gifford Pinchot. Who was Gifford Pinchot? Twice the governor of Pennsylvania and before that the  first chief of the US Forestry Service. It is said that Gifford Pinchot is the ‘father’ of the conservation movement. Located in Milford, PA, “The Birthplace of the Conservation Movement”, Grey Towers stands upon a hill looking east towards France, a nod to the family’s French Huguenot heritage.  Originally a summer home of his parents, this sprawling estate became the permanent home of the Gifford and wife Cornelia in order to establish Pennsylvania residency so Gifford could eventually run for governor. Conservation, horticulture, historic architecture, politics, a dining room table where you float your food to the guests…who could ask for more from a road trip stop?

 

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Bradford Pears and Mangroves

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Flowers and emerging leaves of Bradford Pear

Flowers and emerging leaves of Bradford Pear

Road trip! I love a good road trip, and even not good road trips are fun. I am a “it’s the journey, not the destination” type of person, so no matter how terrific the final destination may be, I look forward with equal anticipation to the adventure of just getting there (and back!).  And while my philosophy even extends to plane travel (I try to watch the happenings like watching a documentary on TV, trying to learn something from the experience, or at the very least amuse myself.) I really, really enjoy a good old, fashioned road trip. A snacks on the passenger seat, kayak on the roof, taking GPS directions only as suggestions, radio up loud, windows down, let’s see where I wind up road trip.

This road trip I am heading down to the west coast of Florida. I have to admit, Florida isn’t one of my favorite states. Not enough snow or fall color for my liking. But it turns out my parents love it there and have recently decided to call it home.  They live on the water now and I love to paddle, so I threw my boat on the car, packed up too much stuff, and hit the road.  Spring was just starting to show its face when I was leaving. As I headed south, spring progressed as my miles increased. Soon I was seeing Bradford Pears (Pyrus calleryana) in full bloom. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

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Crocus

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Crocus

Not gonna lie – I was excited to see these little ones blooming along the Perkiomen Trail. I took this photo Tuesday March 11, 2014 while on a 6 mile walk on this 20 mile rail trail in Southeast Pennsylvania. Anyone who knows me knows I love winter and snow. We all know how snowy it has been in the northeast and mid atlantic. I have snowboarded, snow tubed, snow shoed and even turned my back deck steps into a sledding track, but I am running out of things to do in the snow. I am ready to plant my peas. I am ready to sift compost. I am ready for the skunk cabbage, which should be up already around me but isn’t yet. So when I saw these petite beauties blooming along the trail, I giggled and did a little dance (really!). Honey bees were as excited as me, floating in and out of pollen-filled flower after flower, in this sunny little haven. Ah, signs of spring, signs of life, signs of what’s next.

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