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Nature Photography Day

June 27, 2023


In 2006, The North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) designated June 15 as Nature Photography Day – a day to enjoy capturing the beauty of nature through photography and to learn more about preservation and conservation along the way. I may be a few days late for the actual date, but since nature photography is one of my favorite hobbies, I thought I’d share a few recent photos in honor of this day.

Observations from Holden Forests & Gardens Nature Areas

Holden has many acres of protected natural areas and while not all are open to visitation, as much for the safety of visitors as it is for the safety of the fragile environments, some of them house some very rare species.

Cypripedium reginae

Cypripedium reginae, showy ladies’ slipper, is a threatened species in Ohio and is rare throughout much of its range. One of its biggest threats is collectors, but this species has a way of getting even. The hairs on the flowers and leaves may cause contact dermatitis, like poison ivy, on the skin of those who touch it.

Baltimore checkerspot, Euphydryas phaeton

This butterfly is a Baltimore checkerspot, Euphydryas phaeton. It was found in the same area as the orchid above and is considered an indicator species of high-quality wetlands.

Spiranthes lucida

This tiny orchid, about 3 inches tall and nearly impossible to find if it is not blooming, is Spiranthes lucida, shining ladies’ tresses, a potentially threatened species in Ohio.

Observations from the Gardens

While working in the gardens at the Holden Arboretum, we see many interesting plants and animals too.

snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina

If you’ve been to Holden Arboretum recently, you may have seen one of our many turtles out of the pond looking for sites to dig a hole and bury their eggs. In the weeks following, predatory mammals often dig them up and feast. While it is easy to be sad about the destruction of so many turtle eggs, it is also important to realize that nature has its way of balancing and some do survive.

We often find baby turtles like this snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina, I found as it was coming out of its first winter dormancy last month.   

A praying mantis egg mass

I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see this. A praying mantis egg mass, found in the arboretum gardens while pruning, was bursting to life with young hatchlings all in a rush to get out. I’m not pointing out the scientific name because there are three different genus types known in Ohio. While this is likely one of the exotic species, they aren’t necessarily considered invasive.

wild lupine, Lupinus perennis

The potentially threatened, Ohio native wild lupine, Lupinus perennis, was blooming in the sand prairie recently. Requiring a very specific environment of sandy open soil, this plant is the exclusive food for the caterpillars of the endangered Karner blue butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis.

Magnolia macrophylla

Magnolia macrophylla, appropriately known as bigleaf magnolia, has been blooming in the Wildflower Garden this month. This tree is known to have the largest simple (undivided) leaves of native North American tree species – up to 30 inches long – and the flowers are pretty big too! In the wild it is usually not hardy this far north, but it has been living in a protected spot in the Wildflower Garden for many years.

This is just a small selection of some of my recent favorite photos from Holden Forests & Gardens. Hopefully it encourages you to get out there, look around and take some of your own!

Dawn Gerlica

Dawn Gerlica

Senior Horticulturist

Senior Horticulturist in charge of the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden. Also overseeing the restoration work in the Core Natural Areas, and surveying in situ rare plant populations in the main natural areas while supervising the staff holding Gardener positions in the arboretum Horticulture Department . I started as a seasonal at Lantern Court in June of 1987, and worked 4 summers here. Then I moved to working with Brian Parsons in the Wildflower Garden and eventually transitioned to focusing work in the natural areas of Holden Arboretum, mostly conducting a Plant Community Survey. I had a baby in late 2007 and gave up my full-time position as Field Botanist to be a part-time stay-at-home Mom, but kept my foot in the door at Holden as a contractor a couple days per week. After a few years, I teamed up in a job-share running the Wildflower Garden again until July 2019 when the Horticulturist at Lantern Court left and I was asked to fill in and I stayed there through 2021. Now with the divestment of Lantern Court, I have moved back to the main campus of Holden Arboretum, am helping supervise part of the Horticulture team and advise on the work happening in the Core Natural Areas while maintaining the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden.

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