“You don’t have to fly or drive anywhere to see the beauty of nature-it’s all right there in your own yard!” -NHGS
NHGS started out as a gardening blog — by a garden and landscape professional, self-described now as, “Once a professional gardener, now a helper” — who now shares with us nature studies, photographs, descriptions and more, including personal reactions to nature as it occurs in New Hampshire habitats of the same kinds I have here in the Northern Adirondacks.
It is terrific nature writing, wonderfully illustrated, and I am grateful to be a subscriber.
It is a delightful source of education about things I see every day, written in a fresh, light, personalized style, loaded with information about the things explored, in all seasons. I’m introduced to things I did not realize I was seeing! I’m enlightened about the things I have seen and long appreciated.
This nature writing blog opens a greater appreciation for nature on my home turf, in my forest and throughout the area. I can’t say enough about this as the perfect nature blog for my region. I highly recommend it to anyone enjoying nature, whether casually or intensely.
People say that when they do research on things in nature, this blog often comes up in the hit list. It is a natural resource in itself, the nature being that of its generous author, giving us this comprehensive and pleasing work, free!
Instead of trying to explain further why I follow the blog, I’ll highlight a few posts to show you why.
The last time I visited the deep cut rail trail that was once part of the northern branch of the Cheshire Railroad there were huge columns of ice hanging from the walls of the manmade canyon. These ice columns start to melt in the spring and can sometimes fall into the trail. …
Read this mindfully attentive exploration of a very interesting place: A Favorite Place Revisited
In Late May Flowers, you’ll find fourteen late May wildflowers shown, and their behaviors explored and explained in easy-reading botany and natural history, lore, plant uses for nutrition, and Native American medicinal uses.
For example, the second half of the report on bunchberries (one of my favorites growing at Balsamea) says:
Bunchberry is also called creeping dogwood and bunchberry dogwood. The large (relatively) white bracts surround the actual flowers, which are greenish and very small. The entire flower cluster with bracts and all is often no bigger than an inch and a half across. Later on the flowers will become a bunch of bright red berries, which give the plant its common name. Native Americans used the berries as food and made a tea from the ground root to treat colic in infants. The Cree tribe called the berry “kawiskowimin,” meaning “itchy chin berry” because rubbing the berries against your skin can cause a reaction that will make you itch.
In To See What Others Cannot, the author takes us to the top of a high hill overlooking the forest, but presents an educational and entertaining review of many things along the way to get there, most of them looking exactly like what I have at Balsamea and locally … and demonstrating “seeing” as a naturalist sees, with observations of plants, trees, woodpecker evidence, a meadow, grasses, trails meandering through the woods, mushrooms, rocks (including a very special erratic that you can push!), lichens, moss, and broad forest overlooks.
The forest seems to go on forever. Sitting alone up here with the breeze and birdsong I often find myself wondering what the early settlers might have thought when they looked out over something so vast and unbroken. I also wonder if I would have had the courage to face it. There were no houses out there, no stores, and no roads. Only what you carried; that and your own ability were all you could really rely on.
… Some plants seem to shine with the light of creation and some lichens are no different. Sometimes you can see entire solar systems on the face of a toadskin lichen.
Throughout the blog, the author often personalizes the presentations with comments on the feeling of being in a place or finding something new or seeing something a different way.
If this taste has not satisfied you enough to follow the NHGS blog, I recommend the post, Things I’ve Seen …
What’s there? Spring “candle” on white pine. Cinnamon and interrupted ferns, right down to the spores. American beech buds breaking into leaves (and beech does it with a real flare, something I enjoy every year at Balsamea). Plantain leaved sedge. Newborn maple and oak leaves in their earliest colors as pretty as autumn. Japanese knotweed. Field horsetail. Young stage of beautiful spruce cones. Unfurling shoot of Solomon’s seal. Emerging shoots of whitebane berry. A forest reflecting pond.
Please note that the post is not just a photo gallery, and not just natural history or botany. It’s sharing the experience of nature and of being a naturalist in action. A small sample of the rich text:
I was admiring these beautiful spruce tree cones (flowers) when it hit me: Wait a minute, I thought; spruce cones always hang down and fir cones always stand up! Well, yes and no. After quite a lot of research I found that young cones of some spruce and pine trees stand up until they are pollinated. This is because they are pollinated by wind borne pollen, and it’s easier for the pollen to settle onto the open cones while they’re in an upright position like those in the photo. Once pollinated they close up, turn green and grow bigger and heavier until they tip over, where they hang until the seeds mature. Once the seeds mature the cones open and the seeds (or the cones) fall to the ground. So is it true that fir cones always stand up and spruce cones always hang down? As is often the case in nature, if you remove the word always the answer is yes.
NHGS often shares relevant wisdom or inspirational quotes. Things I’ve Seen concludes with this quote from Jiddu Krishnamurti, something I can never be reminded of too often:
It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree—not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself—and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fishermen’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can corrupt, and which can never be destroyed. ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Amen. And amen. And thank you.