This past weekend (the last weekend in October) I went camping with my family and some friends. It seemed like a lot of work to get all the supplies together but once we got there, the show was worth it. Our friends chose the spot, the pocket on Johns’ Mountain in Northwest Georgia . The weather was cool and overcast but we hit it just right for viewing fall color. Dogwoods, maples, hickories, sourwoods, tupelos, beech, oaks; the woods were luminous.
For me one of the great things about hiking is seeing plants in their native habitats. Horticultural highlights on our trip included masses of sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus with yellow fall foliage and loads of seed pods.
Looking up it was a lacy canopy of red, orange and yellow while the ground was a carpet of mostly green and more muted colors, punctuated by bright leaves that were beginning to fall. Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, was abundant, its evergreen foliage especially welcome at this time of year with so much brown.
Other evergreen leaves included galax and Heuchera americana. In some spots the heuchera seemed to be virtually growing out of the rocks, a testament to how tough plants can be. This made me think about all the improved cultivars that have resulted from crossing this native with other species in the genus. I also was interested to see all the different mosses, in every shade of green and gray, as well as ferns growing out of tiny crevices in rocks and berries of different types.
What made these plant sightings even more impressive were the huge rock outcroppings. I find I’m already thinking about my next visit, probably not until spring but for now I feel inspired and glad we made the trip.