Nature Notes from Common Ground

June 2, 2021

This newsletter is our last Nature Notes for this spring! We are shifting gears into summer camp mode. While our campus remains closed to the public, we are hoping to open again this summer - stay tuned! In the meantime, West Rock Ridge State Park and other natural spaces are open and we encourage you to visit these places. Check our previous Nature Notes emails for hike and activity ideas. Happy summer!


Lady's Slippers Flowering

One of the most striking orchids of the northeast, pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is currently in bloom. If you are local and want a chance to see this flower in person, head to Lake Wintergreen, where you can find communities of it growing on the southeastern edge of the lake, among other places. Please admire this beautiful flower, but do not pick it. One reason to leave it be is that it can take years from the germination of the seed to a mature flowering plant. The seed itself relies on a fungus in the soil to help open the seed and feed it while it germinates. Once the plant is capable of producing its own food, it will share nutrients with the fungi attached to it.

While pollinated by bees, lady’s slippers are tricksters. They don’t actually offer much nectar, but their shape traps bees inside. There is only one escape route, which passes by masses of pollen and the stigma. In this way, the lady’s slipper ensures its pollination without giving the bees any real reward.

More details on pink lady’s slippers here:


Nature activity of the week


A wonderful way to get outside this spring, and all summer long, is to have a picnic! You don't need much: Simply pack up some food, whatever you like, and head out. A blanket or tablecloth is nice, to keep the grass from tickling your ankles, but not not necessary. A pretty basket is traditional, but there's nothing wrong with throwing a few sandwiches and a bottle of water into a backpack or grocery bag and heading out! Bring your family, or a friend or two, or enjoy the time by yourself.

A picnic is a great way to extend your outside time - no need to head home for lunch! Step it up a notch with food grown in your own garden or purchased from a local farmer.


Weekly Video

Whitney Water Center In the Field (At Night) - Fireflies


Hike of the Week


To help Connecticut residents visit state parks this summer, free shuttle buses will run to selected state parks. Governor Lamont Launches Program Offering Fare-Free Weekend/Holiday Bus Service To State Parks and Beaches This Summer

“Getting outdoors was critical for people during the pandemic, and will continue to be as we emerge from it,” Governor Lamont said. “Connecting residents to our wonderful state parks serves many purposes – it will help people get to their jobs if they have seasonal employment with DEEP, and will provide better access to the physical, mental, and educational benefits gained from spending time in our parks.”

The ParkConneCT Pilot Program will run from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend (05/29/2021 to 09/06/2021). All buses will operate without collecting fares on Saturdays, Sundays (if operating), Memorial Day, Independence Day (observed 07/05/2021), and Labor Day as part of the Weekend Wheels program promotion. The Silver Sands Shuttle, Madison Shuttle, and Clinton Trolley will also be fare-free on weekdays.

The parks included in the ParkConneCT pilot program are Silver Sands State Park, Hammonasset Beach State Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, Bluff Point State Park, and Fort Trumbull State Park.

See the info we previously shared on these parks below, and find more info on the shuttle schedules HERE.


About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.

In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.

Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.