I keep records of my management activities by identifying the work areas on an aerial photo and noting date, type of work, time spent and interesting observations. This particular site sits between the township road on the right and a four acre field that I mowed back in November. The green spot in the center of the work boundary is a mature Virginia Pine, the seed source for the little guys I cleared out.
Prevailing wind direction is predominately from the south-west. Few pines are found on the south-west side of the tree.
They are also highly attractive to deer and suffer a lot of damage from the actions of territorial bucks.
When I originally cleared the large cedars from this area 15 years ago, I thought of letting it all grow up in oaks. The appearance of the Bluehearts a few years later caused me to change my mind in favor of the rarer plant.
The ground inclines steeply to the right at a point that marks an earlier field edge. At some point, probably when the plow began bringing up the underlying shale, the farmer moved the field edge farther down the hill. The mowed area seen in the left middle of the photo indicates the field as last cropped.
Most of the small individuals have lost their green coloration and are brown enough to effectively hide in the long grass.
The Bluehearts have been slowly making their way downhill and are just beginning to show up in the most recently cropped areas.
An unexpected hazard for these plants is a vehicle failing to negotiate the 90 degree turn in the road and tearing down through the field. Fortunately, the most likely place for someone to lose control runs them right into a large tree. The tree bears many scars, old and new, and has a collection of headlight glass at its base. So far, the only person to miss the tree failed to break through my fence. The fence was a mess, but the field suffered no damage. The mishaps have yet to inflict any damage to the vehicle passengers.
With each trip to the brush pile, I thought about how nice the weather was and how relaxing it was to be out working. With each trip back, I thought about the winter storm predicted for Sunday and Monday and the arctic air moving in for the rest of the week. I wonder how long it’ll be before I have another day like this.
An infusion of new cuttings is evidence that I’m still around and working.