Bogs are unique places; the sphagnum mats (if you’re daring and foolish) allow you the chance to walk on water, you can watch plants eat animals, and you’re offered a view into the past. Bogs that I’ve visited in upstate NY have that primeval sort of feel because they've remained untouched and unspoiled since the last ice age. Webb’s Mill Bog in the middle of NJ doesn’t have that same sort of effect because it’s relatively small and next to a major highway, but I’m sure there are similar bogs elsewhere in the Pine Barrens where one can witness this topsy-turvy world without the rush of cars speeding by in the distance.
At the edge of the water, on the buoyant mats of sphagnum moss, tiny orchids gently nod in the soft breath of a late spring afternoon. These wanderers from a much more lush tropical home rub shoulders with sundews and purple-veined pitcher plants, half-filled with rainwater, digesting the days’ catch. The orchids also have their tricks to lure insect pollinators; a colorful lip or beard covered with fleshy hairs that serves as a landing platform for insects. Of the pink orchids that bloom in the Barrens, the Grass Pink Orchid is the one with its beard on the uppermost petal.
I don’t imagine these plants to be rare elsewhere in the country, but for me they’re a colorful reminder of times spent in less urban wildernesses.
a return Visit
10 months ago