A Forager’s Walk

We’ve been having a lot a rainy spring weather lately, and you won’t hear me complaining. Yesterday afternoon I thought I’d get a quick walk in between storms. After studying the weather radar I wasn’t sure how much time I had, but I love taking walks. Every time I do, I fall more in love with our beautiful countryside. My trusty dog, Libby, always goes with me and I feel safer with her along.

It was (very) overcast and cool. The air was oxygen-rich and smelled of rain. When I was under the canopy of trees there was another lovely scent. I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from, though. Maybe a certain type of tree was flowering, or something. I wished there was a way for me to share that with you, but I stopped and breathed deeply for a few moments to enjoy it. A rumble of thunder prodded me to get going.

God Provides

One of my hobbies is foraging – picking wild berries, mushrooms, etc. One of my first visits (maybe THE first) to this farm was about twenty years ago, soon after my in-laws first bought it. It was when the berries were ripening, so we spent time on a hillside picking them and then my mother-in-law made a fresh cobbler when we got back to their home. I was just in awe at all of the wild berries that grew here. Growing up a city girl, I had never lived in such an area. From the time we moved here about ten years ago, I’ve picked the raspberries and blackberries, and gradually added other things I hunt for. God provides for us abundantly, all I have to do is get off my behind and go hiking. How much does a small plastic container of “organic” berries cost these days? Each spring, I spend as much time as I can picking berries and packing them in the freezer. I get free organic food, and exercise at the same time.

Brambles

When I was out hunting morels (mushrooms) last month I noted all the brambles which were just beginning to blossom.

Blackberry blossoms (taken a month earlier)

There were wild canes everywhere I looked, and they were loaded with flowers. The berries are forming now, and yesterday I spied the first ripening raspberries. The blackberries will soon follow.

Ripening raspberries
Loaded blackberry bush
Huckleberries

I’m also keeping an eye on the huckleberries, which are like tiny wild blueberries. My favorite use for them is muffins, but they’re so tiny, and I have a lot of competition, so I don’t usually get a whole lot.

Huckleberries beginning to ripen

Aha! They’re starting to ripen. I picked a few that were right beside the road. More thunder reminded me that I didn’t have time to look further.

Huckleberries
Gooseberries

Another berry I pick is gooseberries. They’re so tart that not everyone enjoys them, but my dad has shared memories of foraging for gooseberries during his childhood in northeast Kansas. I like to make a gooseberry pie especially for him. The gooseberries are looking good this year, too. They have such pretty little leaves. The berries are harder to find because they’re green and hang underneath the thorny branches. Some years the berries have seemed scarce, but I’m seeing a lot this season. It’ll probably be a few more weeks before I pick them.

A gooseberry bush
A flowering gooseberry. (Photo taken a month ago)
Heading Home

We even have wild roses here! They’re blooming, too. Did you know that roses, blackberries and raspberries are all related? (So are apples, btw)

Wild roses

As I turn onto our driveway, I’m joined by the guinea gang and a banty rooster.

Guineas and rooster

I got home just in time. Look at the menacing clouds!

We got almost 5″ of rain overnight, causing more flooding. I enjoyed my short walk, and now I know that my berry foraging season is beginning. Thanks for coming along!

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A Forager's Walk

 

On the Hunt for Redbuds and Phlox

Now that spring has arrived, I’ve been really busy. I’ve been gardening like a mad woman. In my flower garden I’ve been weeding and pulling up grass, as well as planting and transplanting. One of the corners of the front yard has been neglected, and while working out there I kept thinking about what it needed. I finally decided that I wanted to plant a Redbud tree there.

Nature Study

Since they grow wild here, I set out to find a baby one that I could dig up and transplant. I knew they had heart-shaped leaves, but they were just starting to open and young trees don’t bloom yet, so I started by finding a mature one to study.

Once I had a better idea of how to spot one, the hunt was on. It wasn’t hard to find them, but I wanted one that was small enough that it wouldn’t be too hard to dig up. I wasn’t successful until the third or fourth one. Their roots go down into the rocks, making it hard to dig down, and also to get enough of the root to hopefully be successful in transplanting. I actually ended up with two. One was about five feet tall. The other one was very small, maybe about two feet. I planted it in another bed near the house.

Why a Redbud?

That corner of our yard needed some height, but I didn’t want anything that was too large and obtrusive. Of course, a Redbud in bloom is very beautiful, but I like them when they aren’t blooming, too. I like their heart-shaped leaves and their open and airy growth habit. I even thought I’d enjoy shaping it over time.

More Free Plants

Down by an old home on our farm, there are daylilies and irises that were planted long ago and have naturalized. I dug up some of those to put around my Redbud tree, as well as elsewhere around the yard. I don’t know what they look like, so that’ll be another surprise someday.

Spring Beauty
A beautiful patch of phlox in the woods. See the creek behind them?

The wild phlox are blooming and they’re so beautiful this year. They seem to be more bountiful. I couldn’t help but take some pictures before digging up a few to bring home. I don’t like to disturb nature too much, so I dug up some that were growing in the middle of the driveway and might be trampled anyway.

Blackberry blooms.

In other nature news, the blackberries and raspberries were already starting to bloom! Before you know it, I’ll be out picking those berries.

Mayapple Blossom

The Mayapples are also blooming. They’re so short, at about 8″, that it’s hard to get low enough to get a picture of the blossom. They have a very strong fragrance that reminds me of honeysuckle with a hint of furniture polish (LOL). I’ve never been fortunate enough to get the ripe fruit. I imagine the critters get to them first.

Back at Home
Surprise! The pink Phlox that suddenly appeared in my garden.

When I returned home I was anxious to get the new plants tucked into the ground as quickly as possible. It was a warm day and they were already wilting.

A few years ago I had tried transplanting some Phlox and thought I was unsuccessful because they never bloomed. All of a sudden, last week, a pink one appeared in my garden. That excited me and made me want to add more. The new ones I dug up were blue.

The Blue Phlox in their new home.
Newly transplanted Redbud with irises and daylilies.

I planted the larger baby Redbud in the corner and added some irises and daylilies around its base. I had read that you should trim the leaves of irises when you transplant them, so I went back later and cut them shorter.

The new Redbud is so spindly that it was hard to get a good picture of it. The mound behind it is oregano. Behind that you can see some newly transplanted plants. We’re finally getting some rain, so now I’ll have to wait and see if it survives. I sure hope so. Hopefully, with a little time, this corner of the yard will soon be prettier.

Close-up of transplanted Redbud.

Spring seems so fleeting. There are already so many flowers that have come and gone. It goes much too quickly for me! I hope you enjoyed our walk in nature. I just love spring (and free plants)! Don’t you?!

On the Hunt for Redbuds and Phlox