One of our wonderful plant record volunteers, Walter Hipple, shares his observations of the Winterthur Garden. Thank you, Dr. Hipple!
A meadow walk too little explored begins at the Quarry. Walk under the bridge, cross the outlet stream, and then follow it to its junction with Clenny Run. Pursue the path along Clenny Run and the Duck Pond all the way to the pump house.
Then backtrack a bit and take the zig-zag path up the slope of Sycamore Hill; at the top it will lead you to a break in the split-rail fence, through which you emerge onto the level garden of trees and shrubs atop Sycamore Hill. Crossing this garden, you find the paved walk back to the Quarry. (Of course, you can do this walk in reverse, starting at the break in the split-rail fence atop Sycamore Hill and ending at the Quarry.)
As you leave the Quarry, you will see that the usually picturesque outlet stream is in disarray, as its bed is being restored. Even so, a few Black-eyed Susans and perhaps some yellow Evening Primroses survive along the stream, and on the meadow side the white heads of Queen Anne’s Lace and it may be a few belated lavender thistles are to be seen.
Once you turn along Clenny Run, the ubiquitous small white Heath Aster is abundant, as is Early Goldenrod–and across the Run you will see the spectacular red and pink blooms of the Swamp Mallow (actually a wild hibiscus). Here and there to your left is New York Ironweed–flowers, stems, and even leaves all shades of purple–and the dusty white heads of White Snakeroot (a eupatorium). You pass a clump of Cat-tails, and flanking the stream is an impressive stand of Indian Cup (Silphium). At the pump house is a fine white Swamp Mallow and more Evening Primroses.
When you start up the hillside, you will see dotted here and there the bright orange of Butterfly-Weed (a milkweed)–beyond its season but regrowing after careful mowing. It’s a favorite of the Monarch butterfly. (You may know Robert Frost’s poem, “A Tuft of Flowers,” in which a clump of Butterfly Weed, spared by the mowers, becomes a symbol of human brotherhood.)
The top of Sycamore Hill, though too little visited, is earlier in the season one of the beauty spots of Winterthur. Now, at the end of August, only the brilliant white heads of the Pee-Gee Hydrangeas remain amidst the greens.
Dr. Hipple’s essay is complemented by these terrific photographs by another volunteer, Bob Leitch: