Newtown Wildflower Walk

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While still visiting my mom, in Bucks County, PA, I decided to take a really long walk, ideally 20 miles (!), but taking it easy and enjoying wildflowers and garden flowers and taking pictures along the way. I started at the residence building where I was staying in a guest room at Pennswood Village and visited several nearby residential neighborhoods in Newtown Township.

I utilized a technique that I often use at home for neighborhood walks: taking as many side streets as possible and making various small loops. The idea is to cover a longer distance without actually going very far from the starting point. In this case, even though I covered more than 20 miles, the farthest distance I got from my home base was less than 3 miles. My GPS track shows the route, with the orange dot at the left denoting my starting point just outside the front door.

GPS track

GPS track

There was relatively little elevation gain and loss: only about 600 feet total. In fact, the grades were so gentle that it seemed like even less.

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

First I walked through the Pennswood front grounds, where I had enjoyed a wildflower walk the previous day. Then I crossed PA-413 and continued toward Core Creek Park, where I had gone for other walks previously. About ½ mile past the park entrance there is a forced left turn from Tollgate Rd onto Fulling Mill Rd, which passes by several corn fields. This beautiful farm land is less than ½ mile from the Newtown borough line.

picture of cornfield near Newtown, PA

Cornfield near Newtown, PA

Near one of the cornfields, next to the road, I noticed a striking wildflower with a very tall, thick stem with small, pretty yellow flowers. I think it is a common mullein (Verbascum thapsis).

photo of common mullein

Common mullein

Nearby I also noticed what seemed to be thistle blooms well past their peak. The blooms had developed into bushy tops that reminded me of makeup brushes. I haven’t noticed this particular flower stage previously, so I wonder whether or not I’ve mis-identified the flower as a thistle.

image of “makeup brush” flower, possibly a thistle

“Makeup brush” flower, possibly a thistle

After taking a side street and walking through a small residential area, I came to another street that is parallel to PA-332 and separated from it by a sound barrier. Along this street I noticed some Virginia creeper growing up the sound barrier. It had also sent out some shoots that were growing into the road. Due to a quirk in my sense of humor, I couldn’t help wondering why the Virginia creeper was trying to cross the road! Notice the characteristic five-leaf pattern.

picture of Virginia creeper apparently trying to cross the road

Virginia creeper apparently trying to cross the road

A bunny appeared from one of the yards, hopped into the road, and froze there long enough for me to capture a few pictures.

photo of bunny in a quiet residential area

Bunny in a quiet residential area

After walking along all of the streets in this residential area (there were only 4 streets), I headed back down Fulling Mill Rd toward Tollgate, then turned left on Ellis and left again on Woodbourne Rd. Woodbourne is the road that runs north-north-west to south-south-east on the GPS track, passing through the green area that denotes Core Creek County Park. It’s a well- traveled road, even at 8:30am on a Sunday morning. As I approached a side road into another residential neighborhood I noticed a deer in the wide, grassy shoulder area. Its body language told me it might want to cross to the other side of Woodbourne, so I decided to see if I could help it out – from a sufficient distance to hopefully not frighten it. Basically I checked both ways for traffic, then stepped onto the pavement to be a visible signal for motorists to stop. Sure enough, almost immediately a car approached. Its driver saw me, began to stop, saw the deer, and stopped far enough away to avoid intimidating the deer. I remained on the pavement until the deer had safely crossed the road and run into a wooded area. Then the driver and I exchanged waves and we went on our own ways.

image of deer trying to figure out how to cross a busy road

Deer trying to figure out how to cross a busy road

I left Woodbourne Rd to walk in the neighborhood between Woodbourne and Fulling Mill Rds; in fact, the next 4 miles of my walk was consumed by walking on all of the roads in this residential area. Here the flowers I saw were garden flowers. One pretty example was this flowering vine with purple flowers. I saw several, often climbing up mailbox posts. The flowers were almost 1½ inches across, and my photos tell me that the number of petals ranged from 4 to 6. This one had five.

picture of purple-flowering vine

Purple-flowering vine

In the driveway of one of the residences I was startled to notice that the bright red van had a special paint job or decorations applied, obviously from the Disney movie Cars. It looked brand new.

photo of specially decorated van parked in a driveway

Specially decorated van parked in a driveway

In several yards I noticed an especially pretty type of shrub or perhaps small tree, perhaps 6 feet tall, with lovely white blossoms. Sometimes the blossoms were isolated like the one in the picture, and sometimes there was a whole row of blossoms along a side branch. The blossoms remind me of a wildflower I’ve seen in the San Francisco Bay Area commonly called fairy lantern or globe lily. However, the plant itself looks very different so I suppose it may not even be related.

image of flower on a shrub that reminded me of fairy lanterns seen on the west coast

Flower on a shrub that reminded me of fairy lanterns seen on the west coast

Many yards’ landscaping included beautiful lilies of almost every imaginable color, including a few I’d never encountered before. Following is a selection of colorful examples. The first group includes the typical orange day lily, ivory and yellow lilies with spots, and a delicate pink lily.

picture of colorful lilies: group 1

Colorful lilies: group 1

In the second group the petals might be a little narrower. I’ve included white, orange (different from above), and two different burgundy-colored examples. The latter were exceptionally intense in color.

photo of colorful lilies: group 2

Colorful lilies: group 2

The last group includes flowers that were more cup-shaped. In addition, the yellow one on the left has frilly edges to the petals. The pink is more intense than the previous example. And the stamens in the white lily are different from the earlier example. I presume that these differences indicate either different species or at least different cross-breeding.

image of colorful lilies: group 3

Colorful lilies: group 3

After walking along all of the streets to the west of Woodbourne Rd, I crossed it and continued walking through the neighborhood on the east side, which included a small business park. The road, Lower Silver Lake Rd, crosses Core Creek and passes through a woodsy area before emerging into yet another residential area. Such is suburbia in Bucks County! In the woodsy area I found some chicory, which has a delicate blue flower. In the residential area there was hydrangea in a few yards. And I found a shrub with unusual and distinctive blossoms – at least, I think they’re blossoms – with long tendrils in kind of a whorl pattern.

picture of shrub blossoms making a whorl pattern

Shrub blossoms making a whorl pattern

After exploring this easternmost residential area I started my return to Pennswood. As I approached the Core Creek crossing, I was startled to see a horse and rider coming down the road! Just after I snapped a quick picture, they headed off into the woods and quickly disappeared.

photo of horse and rider on a quiet road connecting residential and woodsy areas

Horse and rider on a quiet road connecting residential and woodsy areas

On my return path, after passing the entrance to Core Creek Park I made the short detours to walk up and back two short side streets just east of PA-413. I have walked up and down these streets before, and I enjoyed re-visiting the beautiful yellow sun drops that I’d seen on a walk earlier in my month-long stay in the area. In one of the front yards there was a pretty collection of lilies and miniature prickly-pear-like cactus that happened to be blooming. The color collection was especially pretty.

image of lilies & cactus in a front yard

Lilies & cactus in a front yard

Finally, I finished retracing my steps to my starting point. This was a particularly nice way to complete a 20-mile training walk: taking my time and stopping, when I pleased, for pictures.

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