For my year-long journey of Tyler Arboretum, I decided that I should jump right in and attend one of the summer programs. I have attended several events in the past, but never signed up for any of the guided programs. Fortunately, there was one offered this morning that I didn’t even have to sign up for – I just had to show up! In the Tyler Topics Summer 2013 newsletter, under Natural Studies, the following program description caught my eye:
Wildflower Walks – every Wednesday, 11AM to 1PM
As summer heats up and the trees spread their leaves, sun-loving wildflowers bloom in the open meadows. Tyler’s expansive space and diverse ecosystems support a wide variety of plant life all year round. Discover the beautiful and fascinating summer wildflowers as Tyler with experts Richard Brenner and Dick Cloud every Wednesday morning.
Although I took some biology courses in college, I know little about plants, especially wildflowers. This program, free with admission to the arboretum, was just what I needed to give me an introduction to a part of Tyler that I would often walk by and admire, but then continue to walk on.
The two Tyler volunteers that led the tour were excellent – they knew the common and Latin names of plants, if a plant was invasive, when it blooms, what the smells are… and what I most appreciated, they had such passion for leading our group around. After the first half-hour, the skies opened up and began pouring down on us, but that didn’t stop our fearless leaders or the rest of us tagging along (that tells you something about how engaging they made the tour – even in the rain!). From plants I was familiar with (black-eyed susan, clover, goldenrod, St. John’s wort) to ones I had never heard of before (such as butter-and-eggs!), I was fascinated by the amazing variety of wildflowers across the landscape. I never knew that plants could have a square stem, and I learned about some insects and pollinators. We even saw the tiniest of frogs/toads (we’re not sure if they were frogs or toads – they were so small!) moving across our path.
What I appreciated the most was that the tour helped me view Tyler from a completely different point of view. As a geologist, I tend to look at the “big picture” and view everything at a large scale. I like to visit mountains and canyons, where I struggle to capture the view in one photograph. But this tour made me get up close and personal with these wildflowers – literally! I was encouraged to look at how the water drops pooled up on the leaves to look like diamonds. I was shown the tiny petals on flowers. I now realize that one can find beauty in even the tiniest parts of Tyler. I will now be visiting Tyler with a different lens, looking even closer at the surrounding environment instead of taking in just the big picture.
As the wildflowers are growing and blooming at different rates and times, I was told I could attend the walk again next Wednesday and have a different experience. This is a program I certainly want to join at a future date. I clearly still have more to see and learn!