27 November 2012

The Lost Pines

For the first time since the great fires of 2011, we ventured east to the Lost Pines and Bastrop State Park. What was once a land of towering green pines, blooming white dogwood trees, ferns and forest floors covered with pine needles is no more. This ancient grove of loblolly pines, separated far from its nearest neighbors, has been forever altered by the fires.

And though the fires were tragic, there is beauty to behold. New plants are growing forth in ground that is unencumbered by the deep shade of the acidic pines. A few woodpeckers call. Blue and red Eastern bluebirds flitted through black branches, and pine warblers snuck their way past treet trunks and falling, dead limbs.

A post-fire landscape is quite otherworldly, but also beautiful in its resilience.

Small tufts of grasses and sedges strike a surprisingly modern pose with this beautiful red plant. (I have no idea what this is. Anyone?)

It's important to wear sunny pants...

Much of the understory is laying itself out like a Piet Oudolf garden in winter, all texture and shades of tan.

Pokeweed is quite dominant, much of it with bright red stalks and drooping with berries.

Switchgrass and rattlesnake master (which I've never seen in the wild in Texas) are filling in along dry and wet streambanks, along with little bluestem and Indiangrass.

This clumping grass is beautiful, with pom-pom like tufts of grasses bursting forth from its main body. Is this a native species?

I think this is a burnt out yucca, all of its fine internal fibers exposed and waving across the ground, as if a pale haired Tolkien elf suddenly vanished into the ground, leaving behind its hair.

The beautiful golden wood from an oak tree whose bark had been peeled away by the charring fire.

And meadows of grasses now growing where none grew before...


DaveQuinn247 said...

Great look at the Bastrop State Park post fire. Thanks for sharing.

Tim said...

I went to the Burning Pines run and was struck by the multitude of species as well. Most of our "natural" areas are ex-ranches, and seem to have few species. I can't say I've seen a first growth forest popping up in Texas before. As horrible as the devastation was, the new growth is an amazingly rare beautiful thing.

Judi Gustafson said...

Have you read Clarissa Pinkola Estes's The Faithful Gardener?

misti said...

Your clumping/tufted grass looks like a Dicanthelium and is likely native.

We had planned on visiting the park prior to it burning and now have only had a chance to drive through the area on our way west to the hills country.

Lee said...

Yes, it does look like a Dichanthelium! Thanks Misti for the tip.