Sunday, April 26, 2015

Walking the bluebell trail along Bull Run

I went for a walk at the beginning of the bluebell season the native flowers that are so many shades of purple to blue and even white in some rare cases growing in the flood plain where they get watered a lot this time of year. Bull run is the creek that passes under the old stone bridge in the Manassas Battlefield park where this bluebell trail begins. There are lots of different native flowering plants that poke up their heads up in these early spring weeks between freezing cold and the forest's leaves open and blocking the light that falls warming the earth below. All these native flowers are a delight and I have gone to the trail a few times this year to check on the bluebells progress.

Blue bells are the largest and most dramatic of the native flowers in the woods. They stand about a foot high and grow in clumps forming a carpet of lavender blue and fresh green on the edges of the creek in the low flood plain areas.

 The flowers are difficult to photograph as the eye sees them, the blue really jumps out  of those green areas but I haven't found a way to show that the same way we see.
 Mixed in the flowering forest floor are little spotted leaves and bright yellow flowers the Trout Lilies.
 Near by and a little earlier were the Dutchman's Breeches a cousin to the bleeding hearts so many of us love in our own gardens. Spring beauties also are abundant along the trail and are very short beside the taller flowers but native bees depend on their abundant early blooms.

On a sunny day the best places to take the wildflower photos is where shade falls from the tree's trunks so the high contrast is reduced and the colors show up. 

Tree frogs are singing to their mates all over the wooded areas along the creek's edges.
 On my hike, I met a group of three Park Rangers riding on horseback who said hello and continued down the trail towards the bridge. As it was free day they didn't ask for a pass or anything but greet me and keep on walking... 
This trail comes to a point where the creek banks are too steep to continue at the edge of Bull Run and the flora change as the trail turns up towards the wooded hill and an evergreen area. Mosses and a few ferns as well as one of my favorites the bluet a tiny blue flower with four petals that is sky blue. My photo blew out the color and made them look white. Found in the damp shadows they are so small you have to hunt for them at the trial edge not far from the mossy areas that are bright green this time of year. 

Moss sends up it's red stemmed flowers. 
tiny ferns grow in very specific areas. Here in a depression of a big tree trunk and all along the edge of a rocky cliff over the creek below. 

Wintergreen's leaves are still showing deep in the woods 

Pine trees and hemlocks are at the top of the hill and the trail edges are covered with fallen leaves in addition to the red pine needles

At the top of the hill the trail opens out to a huge field and runs along the edge for a ways where the wind has blown over many trees but reveals the flowering red bud tree seeking light it's a native that is wide spread and domesticated for home gardens as well as roadside when you drive through the country. This area gets lots of sun and wind and the old Virginia Red Cedars and scrub pines take a beating as well as bleach out to a fine silvery color when they fall. 

the panoramic view from the top of the hill on this trail of the battlefield opens to the big blue sky. 

Back to the bluebells... and if you look closely you might see the spring beauties little white flowers near by in these photos. 

Here I saw a pond that is collected rainwater 50 yards from the creek's edge in the flood plain area. Can you make out the green topped with bluebells? The National Parks are a wonderful experience when every you have time to go and enjoy a visit with nature. The bluebells are a great time to go but I can't remember ever going when I didn't enjoy visiting with the plants and creatures of the parks. I am thankful for the conservationist movement that created these amazing natural retreats from our over developed communities. 

1 comment:

cassandra said...

The bluebells are gorgeous! I've never seen Dutchmen's breeches before. I do love bleeding hearts. I need to get out for a hike soon. This looks like a great trail!