Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A ship with crowding sails of green

Y'all, this is beyond awesome -- a comprehensive botanical survey is now underway at Overton Park!

The City of Memphis recently hired Tom Heineke, a local plant ecologist, to survey the plant species of the Old Forest during the next 12 months. We're very grateful to Park Services director Cindy Buchanan for making this happen.

Tom has a PhD in botany and many years of field experience. He's also a hell of a nice guy who graciously let me and Rosa tag along on the trails for three hours this morning. Tom's list of Old Forest plants has already topped 150 species and he's barely broken a sweat.
I never did get a clear photo of Tom, partly because the light was dim, and partly because he never stops moving.
Did you know that our little forest has at least six different species of native grape vine? Did you know we have hawthorn and hazelnut trees in the understory? Did you know there's more than one kind of native dogwood?

Today we found a beautiful cluster of four fern species growing within a few feet of each other: Christmas fern, sensitive fern, ebony spleenwort, and lady fern.
Every time I walk the trails of the Old Forest, I'm amazed all over again by the rich diversity of life that surrounds me. How often do you get the chance to feel that kind of wonder?

I remember feeling this way,
You can lose it without knowing,
You wake up and you don't notice
Which way the wind is blowing.
-Tom Petty