Dandelions are hardy and can grow almost anywhere, even in poor soil. I love seeing the bright yellow flowers in fields, lawns, and gardens.
As I finished my walk through Zion Crossing Park and headed back to the car, Bhavna called. We had only one car, and I had the car for the day. She was ready to get picked up from work.
The sun from behind the clouds cast its bright light on the small meadow. The grass was invaded with colonies of dandelions. Dandelions are hardy and can grow almost anywhere, even in poor soil. I love seeing the bright yellow flowers in fields, lawns, and gardens.
Many see dandelions as a nuisance, as they can quickly spread and take over a lawn or garden. But dandelions are beautiful. Lawns are stupid, vain, useless and wasteful. But dandelions have anti-inflammatory properties and can treat various ailments, such as indigestion, high blood pressure, and acne. The root can be roasted and used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.
Dandelions are edible! The leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach, while the flowers can be used to make dandelion wine or even fritters. I would love to try that, but the lawns in my development are not a good source. The association landscaping maintenance crew sprays everything with a pesticide.
There is a small covered picnic table on the meadow amongst the dandelions. I keep reminding myself to pack a basket and do a late afternoon lunch with Bhavna.
In September of 2021, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused severe flooding and damage in the area, and the bridge was hit hard.
After photographing the waterfall, I walked north along the short trail in Zion Crossing Park. At the far end of the trail are the remains of the Zion-Wertsville Road Bridge.
The Zion-Wertsville Road Bridge, aka the Rock Brook Bridge, is in Hillsborough Township and is part of the border between Montgomery Township, intersecting Hollow Road and Zion-Wertsville Road. It was built in the late 1800s and is a historic iron truss bridge that spans the Millstone River. The bridge is an important piece of history for Hillsborough Township, and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995.
The bridge was originally used for vehicular traffic but closed in 1984 due to safety concerns. However, in the 1990s, the bridge was restored and converted into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.
A new project, the Zion-Wertsville Road Bridge Rehabilitation Project, was started to fix up this historic bridge. It involved putting in a reinforced concrete arch liner with concrete fill and a reinforced concrete relief slab for the steel stringer span. The plan was also to install a new steel tube railing to make the bridge safer.
The project started in August 2021, but unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. In September of that same year, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused severe flooding and damage in the area, and the bridge was hit hard. The flood waters were so strong that they destroyed many of the materials used for the rehab project, and the bridge itself was seriously damaged. It was a challenging setback, but the community is working to get the project back on track as soon as possible.
The bridge was part of the route for the Sourland Spectacular, an annual bicycle race to raise funds for the Sourland Conservancy, a non-profit whose aim is to protect the delicate ecosystem of the Sourland Mountain Range.
Trout lilies are one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, usually around March or April.
In the past, I have had good luck finding wildflowers at Zion Crossing Park. Trout lilies are one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, usually around March or April. However, I saw no trout lily plants at Zion Crossing Park two weeks before this visit. While walking on the trail toward the Zion-Wertsville Road Bridge, I found spring beauty and very early signs of trout lily. I am too late to see the blooms this year.
Trout lily (Erythronium americanum) is a wildflower native to eastern North America. It gets its name from the mottled leaves, which some people think resemble a trout's skin colouring. When the plant blooms, the yellow flowers are delicate and dainty, with six petals arranged in a star shape. I usually find the plant carpeting the forest floor with bright blooms.
I would get down on my knees to get a close-up, using a macro extension tube with one of my lenses trying to fill the frame. Often my clothes would get dirty from mud, and sometimes, I hurt myself by banging my knee against a rock. It was not ideal. Once, I tried so hard to balance my body on my feet while cropped over, trying to get the flower in focus, I strained the muscles on the bottom of my feet. It took weeks to heal.
Using the XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR, I can stay far from the flowers and still fill the frame.
In the spring, Trout lilies are one of the earliest nectar sources for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Trout lilies reproduce by growing new plants from underground bulbs produced by the parent plant. Over time, this can lead to large colonies of trout lilies covering the woodland floor.