Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

The sabbatical project continues, exploring all that Tyler Arboretum has to offer

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Walking through wildflowers

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.

Wildflower Walk - 07/03/13Although 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.

Wildflower Walk - 07/03/13What 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!
Wildflower Walk - 07/03/13


The journey begins!

Today, July 1, is the first day of my year-long quest to explore Tyler Arboretum. I plan to travel all the trails, take advantage of programs and events, and share my excitement for exploring the outdoors. I also plan on picking up as many facts as I can about Tyler and sharing them here on this blog.  For example…

DID YOU KNOW… Between 1681 and 1944, the current arboretum property was a working farm owned by eight generations of the same Minshall/Painter/Tyler family!

The PondAnd wouldn’t you know, my first day that I set out to start my Tyler exploration was clouded over with nonstop rain. As I have a degree in marine geology, a little water has never stopped me! I grabbed my umbrella and started a short stroll inside the fenced portion of the Arboretum. If you haven’t walked through Tyler in the rain, I strongly encourage you to do so. Not only is the landscape just as beautiful, but the sound of the rain falling through the overhead tree canopy was so peaceful and relaxing. I headed to the Pond to watch the raindrops fall on the water, and I was kept company by some of the Pond’s wildlife!

The Pond

Some company in the rain at the Pond! The sign tells me these are Eastern Painted turtles.

I am looking forward to many, many more visits to Tyler – in the rain and in the sun! My challenge will be to decide what events to sign up for. Should I join the Mornings in the Fragrant Garden program on July 10, or tag along with one of the Summer Bird Walks that takes place every Wednesday, or challenge myself with a hike along the Painter (Red) Trail, or…. wow, so many options! I think I better bookmark the Events and Exhibitions page on the Tyler website to stay on top of everything.