Notes from the Island
August 1992


The summer flowers are blooming. There is orange spotted jewelweed on the canal banks and yellow pale jewelweed on the Island. The juice from its stem relieves the sting of nettles and is supposed to be good for poison ivy. This plant is also called touch-me-not because the pod explodes when touched, ejecting the seed.

This area has several flowering bog plants. You can find the pinkish swamp milkweed on the small islands above Sycamore and red cardinal flowers at the upper tip of the Island. The water willows flourish in slow moving shallow water and at the shoreline. Jimsonweed and mallows prefer plenty of sunshine. Hummingbirds feed at the trumpet vines and goldfinches nibble the seeds off the several types of sunflowers that grow wild in the area. Other flowers that are blooming on the Island include Joe Pye weed, boneset, and asiatic daylily. Watch out for the horse nettle which has pretty flowers but sharp thorns.

The insects are out in force this time of year. Yellow jackets were building a nest in the ground under the stairs, spiders construct their webs across every available path and mosquitoes appear every evening. Holly and I have a wonderful close-up view of wasps making a mud nest in the tracks of our window just outside the screen. I have seen so many ants this year I am convinced the clubhouse is built on an anthill.

I get an occasional glimpse of a very skittish woodchuck who wanders up to the house but scurries off at the slightest noise or movement. Recently I saw a deer up on the Parkway, and Holly and I spotted two fawns near Carderock.

At the last Saturday session Mike and Scott Savage cut the hedge down low allowing more light and air into the screen porch. John Matthews, Gerry Barton, Tryon Wells, Terry Murphy and I raised the ferry's safety cable, which had come down during a storm when a large sycamore branch fell on it.

Right now the Potomac is up a bit and the river is muddy due to thundershowers. However, the water is cool and when the silt drops out, the swimming should be nice. When you're not away on vacation, come down and enjoy it.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker