What better way for two (and a half) nature nerds to spend Mother’s Day than at a wildflower preserve? We trekked all the way from Dover to New Hope, PA to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve to check out the spring ephemeral show. The nearly 2 hour drive was well worth it for us, but we decided to leave big brother home so the trip didn’t interfere with his sacred nap time. Little brother can still sleep on the fly so he got to have some one on one time with Mama and Grammy! For Northern Delawareans or Pennsylvanians, this car ride is much more reasonable for the littles, especially since Bowman’s Hill opens at 9am.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was born in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and I’ll always consider that to be “home” even though I’ve spent the majority of my life in DE. Since we have a soft spot for PA, we especially love visiting places that remind us of our favorite parks. Mountains, curvy roads (filled with potholes) and lush forests filled with wildflowers are what takes us back there. The closer we got to Bowman’s Hill, the more it reminded us of home.
Spring is the forest’s time to shine as that is when you’ll see the most flowers blooming at one time. Bluebells, lady slipper orchids, wood poppies, trout lilies, bleeding heart, jack-in-the pulpit, and of course trillium are just a sampling of the showstoppers that can be readily found this time of year. Other times of the year you may not even realize they are there. These plants all belong in a group called ephemerals, which by definition means short lived. They emerge from the ground, bloom, produce seed, and die back in a matter of weeks so part of the beauty of these flowers is finding them at just the right time in their life cycle. These plants thrive in the higher light levels they receive before the trees are fully leafed out in the woods so they’ve evolved to take advantage of that short window of time where it is warm enough for them to grow but not be completely shaded by the forest canopy.
Bowman’s Hill serves as a great resource for education about and appreciation of native plants by protecting them within its boundaries. Literally. They have a deer fence around the entire perimeter of the property! Trails wind through various mini ecosystems and along a beautiful creek. The area can be rather hilly, so the staff at the visitor center will advise you which trails are most stroller/handicap friendly. Pssshhh. We are off-roading pros so we take the stroller on all the trails no matter how steep, or how many steps we have to carry it up or down. Babywearing is also a great option!
On our adventure we came across a labyrinth, many bridges, a dam, and a toad! Baby O had never been formally introduced to a toad before so naturally, I scooped Mr. Toad up for a closer look! Two points about toads before I go on…
I just want to you prepare for the toad pee experience so you aren’t surprised when it happens. It’s really their only defense mechanism, so who can blame them when a giant human comes tromping along and picks them up. Baby O was not as excited about the toad as I thought he would be, but that’s how life with a toddler is. You never know! Plus, he was a little busy with a snack at the time.
There are restrooms at the visitor center, a gift shop and a native plant nursery available so you can take some pretties home with you! Overall, it was totally worth the long drive and another visit. If you can’t make it this Spring, you should still go because there are plenty of native perennials and shrubs to enjoy throughout the year, especially in the late Summer or Fall.