Anita Collins, president of the board at the Lehigh Gap Natue Center, introduced Linda Fredericks and Liz Stauffer, who were to speak on the Rare and Forgotten Flora Trail. Their work on the gardens at the Center now includes a number of additions that fit the category of rare plants including some that thrive in shade and are planted along the tree identification trail.
Fredericks said Sean Bankos and Clare Kubik have been a great help. They are former members of the Naturalist Club.
She said in 1900 the Gap was a vacation site but then came the metal and acid depositions from industry and much of the mountain died. When the board decided how to restore life they looked at an ecological model and the first garden became a garden of grasses. Wildlife gardens were planted and invasives were and are being removed. A bog garden was created for plants that love water.
When the Osprey House was greatly enlarged in 2010 the landscaping was put into an area with a trail and where people could enjoy native plants that benefit wildlife. One thing given consideration was plants that are hosts for larval butterfly caterpillars.
The plants quickly grew and self-seeded. Some of those plants are ones that fit the description of rare plants.
Stauffer said that with a Together Green grant volunteers began to plant threatened, endangered or extirpated plants.
"We're planting plant communities," she said.
On the tree ID trail a weed wrench was used to help remove invasives. A green roof is planned for the springhouse.
Bankos is working on the bog gardens.
Collins said a project such as this doesn't happen without an energetic leader which Fredericks is
Fredericks was asked if altitude affected the plants. The person is from Penn Forest and was told that at most the person would have to choose plants for zone five instead of six.
She brought a lot of books for people to look at and said the internet site plants.USDA.gov can give good information.
Then it was time for a hike through the gardens where most things were still the dull colors of winter, but there were red rose hips and a few other colored plants that retain their color.
Prickly pear cactus was laying flat on the ground but Fredericks said she loves the way it suddenly just pops up in spring.
The riparian gardens followed the tree identification trail that was made as a Boy Scout Eagle project.
Here too everything except a Sweet Bay Magnolia was brown and grey. The various plantings create three different types of habitat.
Golden Seal is in trouble because of collectors. It likes shade and has been helped now because people are growing it intentionally for sale in health food stores.
Bankos told about the various plants along the trail. They are protected with wire cages.
Skunk cabbage in bloom was a natural thrill for some such as Mary Couver who stepped off the trail in a wet area.
The rare plant program will include people who want to create their own rare plant garden - space and a willingness to care for the plants are required as well as planting other native plants. Applications are available at the Nature Center. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
People will be working in the garden April 6 beginning at 9 a.m. Volunteers are always welcome.