Finding local sites that have thriving native plant communities is even more powerful and inspiring to me than a trip to one of our nation’s natural treasures such as Smokey Mountains National Parks. On a recent trip there I saw amazing landscapes and native plants, some for the first time. However, in my opinion these vistas pale in comparision to a Bucks County native plant population maintaining its own glory.
I attribute this inspiration to the sense of hope I derive from our local flora. The power of this hope comes from the endurance of local habitats despite tremendous pressure from invading non-native species. The simple fact that they still exist gives me the sure knowledge that there is a real potential for our flora to return to full brilliance if we all were more cognizant of impacts from disturbance, impediments, and the destruction of natural processes.
Don’t get me wrong, I do still need to go from time to time to those very special wild landscapes to experience some excitement, personal reflection, regeneration, and grounding. When I return from these more pristine ecosystems, I then have a greater drive to help protect and heal what we have here in our own Bucks County backyards. This is what empowers my passion for native plant design and rustic furniture building. My call to you is to not lose your sense of natural wonder wherever you are and to look for the good in all that you seek. I myself have found positive vestiges of native species in nearly every site to which I have ventured.
These are some of the specific Local Native Plant Habitats that have inspired me through the past two decades. Some I visit seasonally to see their amazing changes and others I visit like an old friend every few years.
Please Note: Many of these sites are private property and require the owner permission to trespass. In some cases I have omitted exact addresses and details so that these areas remain little known oases of native flora. When visiting any natural area take care to thoroughly clean your shoes and equipment prior to entering these sites. This step will help to prevent inoculating a new area with invasive plant seeds from other locations from which you have traveled. And it should go without saying that no plants should be removed from the wild. I can provide you with information on where to purchase just about any native plant you desire.
(New Hope, PA 18938)
Of interest: More than 1000 species of native plants found in Pennsylvania can be seen here in the various habitats created or preserved on the property. Don’t miss the display of Virginia bluebells in early spring down by Pidcock Creek.
Buckingham Friends Meeting House Property:
(5684 York Road, Lahaska, PA 18931)
Of interest: Chestnut and black oak woodlot with native pinxterbloom azaleas, lowbush blueberries, rhododendrons, and black gum trees.
Mount Gilead African Methodist Episcopal Church on Buckingham Mountain:
(Buckingham, PA 18912)
Of interest: Chestnut oak and American beech woodlands with native pinxterbloom azaleas, lowbush blueberries, and trailing arbutus.
(Doylestown, PA 18901)
Of interest: Black birch, chestnut and black oak woodlot with lowbush blueberries and the largest stand of pink lady slippers I have seen in Bucks County.
(State Game Lands, Quakertown, PA 18951)
Of interest: Large diabase boulders, some the size of small houses, on top of the mountain and numerous native woodland species. This area is well hunted, so the deer browsing pressure is less than in most other areas of Bucks County.
(Old Bethlehem Pike, Applebachsville, PA 18951)
Of interest: A diabase lake, stream and forested wetland area filled with many native wetland and upland species. Home to several wood ducks, barred owls and a diversity of other waterfowl and wildlife are found is this underused county park.
(240 Sunnyside Rd, Easton, PA 18042)
Of interest: Actually located in Northampton County, PA this preserve is run by the Natural Lands Trust. It is an oak and tulip poplar forest mostly facing northeast and looking out over the Delaware River in many spots. It is my favorite place to see the native serviceberries, wake-robin trilliums and showy orchis in early spring.
Nockamixon State Park Along South Park Road:
(RT. 563 - Hillside across from dam; Quakertown, PA 18951)
Of interest: In amongst the red shale steep slopes and cliff faces you can see heuchera, hepatica, wild geranium, ground pine, and fringed polygala (gaywings) underneath the canopy of an oak and hickory woodlands.
Richland Township Nature Trail:
(Township Building Complex, 1328 California Rd Quakertown, PA 18951)
Of interest: There is a looping trail through a diabase and tulip poplar lowland woods with several vernal pools located adjacent to the main path. It also has the best display I have seen in the county of wild ramps/leek and blue and black cohosh in vast numbers of specimens.
(Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972)
Of interest: A large boulder field is surrounded by acres of northern hardwoods forests. The stream channel displays the boundary of the diabase region and the red shale geological formations. Many spring ephemerals can be found blooming in the woods.
Small Meadow Remnant at Northwest Corner of Route 313 & Ridge Road:
(Across route 313 from the restaurant, Perkasie, PA 18944)
Of interest: A remnant little bluestem and eastern red cedar dry prairie with some interesting native wildflowers like: St. Johnswort, black-eyed susans, sundrops, ironweed and marsh pink (Sabatia sp.)
Vacant Field next to Wehrung’s Building Supply:
(Rt. 611 in Ottsville, PA 18942)
Of interest: This is the largest community of New England aster I have encountered in our area and while New England aster is fairly common in our region, it usually is growing in small patches. This community is about a quarter acre in size and consistently dense throughout. The flower colors in this community range from nearly pink-white to deep purple-blues. The community also has good stands of little bluestem and various goldenrod species. Unfortunately in many years the property is mowed in late summer and therefore the plants cannot recover in time to bloom that year.
Local Sites Disrupted By Non-Natives
I also encourage you to visit sites that are severely impacted by non-native, invasive species so that you can witness first hand the disruption and destruction that these disturbed and degraded plant communities demonstrate.
(along River Road in Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972):
Most problematic species on site: Butterfly Bush, Mugwort, Phragmites, Autumn Olive, and Tree-of-Heaven
(Gladwyne, PA 19035):
Most problematic species on site: Fiveleaf Akebia, Garlic Mustard, and English Ivy
(Upper Roxborough, Philadelphia, PA 19128):
Most problematic species on site: Japanese Stilt Grass, Garlic Mustard, and Sweet Autumn Clematis