After celebrating upstate New York's scenery during my recent vacation, I was reminded that we have our own version of rural vistas with real rolling countryside here in Howard County. They're to be found mainly in the western part of the county -- so far, I've enjoyed them on drives down 144 west from 32, on my way to Sun Nurseries. I headed out that way twice this weekend while making a gardening decision, and I didn't mind having to do the second drive at all. (On the first drive, I also went as far as Lisbon before stopping at Sun Nurseries.) Many Hocoblog readers might already know this area, if they've been going to the Howard County Fairgrounds, the Howard County Conservancy or Sun Nurseries.
On my latest drives, I couldn't see much, if any, damage from last weekend's hurricane from the road, but there must have been some effect: Temporary signs along 144 advise local residents about place and time for picking up emergency water supplies.
Even closer to Columbia, not to be overlooked is some scenery along 108 between River Hill Garden Center in Clarksville and Lake Centennial. The Garden Center's parking lot enjoys a view of farm and woodland sloping away on the other side of the road. Further down 108, there's a patch that almost looks like an English country lane with large old trees separating the road from a sheep pasture. [Well, that stretch of 108 isn't quite as charming as I recall it, and the sheep pasture might have been switched to other purposes. It's a nice drive on the weekend, but the English country lane feeling is gone.]
Wildflower note for late July/early August: Stately stands of Joe Pye weed at peak bloom can be seen in a couple of places where 144 dips into dales where there are small streams or marshy areas. When you reach Sun Nurseries on Bushy Park Road off 144, you can buy your own Joe Pye weed!
My Joe Pye purchase will have to wait as I continue to develop the garden area where I might plant it. This weekend's garden project involved making sure that a problem area on my front patio would support a Hydrangea bush. After checking out the soil, I made the second trip to Sun to buy "Lady in Red", a Hydrangea macrophylla cultivar that will provide much foliage interest even when the plant is not in summer bloom.