Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pierce's Woods

Wildflowers of the spring forest come and go quickly, their colorful flames of blossoms and leaves dimming as the canopy overhead begins to fill in, shading the woodland floor. Today I walked the natural forest trails of Pierce's Woods at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. This is a great place to learn the natives by sight with a wildflower I.D. book and journal, or by joining one of the pleasant walking tours with a staff naturalist. Then venture out into any of the beautiful state forests or parks in Pennsylvania to test your identification skills in the wild!

Blue Cohosh in Pierce's Woods
Emerging fiddleheads of cinnamon fern.

Pierre DuPont bought the large tract in the early 1900s. Named Pierce's Woods, the Quaker farmer whose family had settled and farmed a portion of the land, held the original land grant assigned to his family by William Penn. DuPont, in addition to being a gifted business man, was also a naturalist and horticulturalist. When he learned that property was up for sale, he quickly purchased it to save it from development. He appreciated the 200 acre property for containing a vast native forest that had been lovingly preserved and protected from the plow and logging by the Pierce family for hundreds of years. Today it is well cared for by native plants gardeners and serves as a refuge for rescued native plants relocated from highway projects and construction sites.

Virginia Bluebells
Red trillium
Rue-anemone and Trout lily among the fiddleheads, Pierce's Woods.

Visitors to the Pierce's Woods section of Longwood Gardens should pick up a map or check the website for times and dates of wildflower walks. The wild area is quite unlike the manicured and sculptural formal gardens, that has uneven, unpaved, and mulched trails. The wooded site borders the soon-to-open Eastern prairie meadow site - open to the public after years of ecological restoration this summer!

Check the website for up-to-date events and educational opportunities. These change frequently and there are dozens of classes and walks throughout each month. If you live with an hour of Kennett Square, it is well worth the price of an annual membership. You want to come back again and again!

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