The thanksgiving holiday is both a chance to give thanks, and to catch up on all of the things that can get set aside in the midst of a busy autumn. Fairchild is absolutely delightful this time year. The weather is perfect, the grounds are prepared for festivals and larger number of visitors, and there are cannonball tree flowers.
Back in late October I had the opportunity to give an invited seminar at Swarthmore College in southeastern Pennsylvania. It was a good excuse to visit several sites where I have intermittently visited and worked over the last several years. These sites, called serpentine barrens, have an unusual geology that creates unique soils rich in Nickel and Chromium, and deficient in Calcium and other essential nutrients. These soils are toxic to many plants, and consequently they harbor many rare plant species that are otherwise rare.
It happened to snow while I was there, and few of the most attractive flowers at these sites were in bloom anyway. But a couple of pictures show the stark autumn beauty of the sites.