Yesterday's weather was frigid, but five intrepid hikers joined me for an invigorating walk through the bleak beauty of the Old Forest in winter.
Against this muted canvas of brown and tan, our eyes quickly pick out the evergreen outlines of invasive non-native plants like privet hedge, Japanese honeysuckle and English ivy. Here and there, we spot the sculptured spines of trifoliate orange.
But non-native plants aren't the only green things growing in our winter woods. Colorful mosses and lichens abound.
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) waits patiently for summer, when it will drip with orange trumpet-shaped flowers and attract a host of hummingbirds.
Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans) began sprouting a few months ago and is now widespread on the forest floor.
Jacob's Ladder won't send up its stalks of bluish-purple flowers until spring, but in the meantime, its foliage is a welcome sight for winter-weary eyes.