Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Big Woods

One hundred and fifty some acres of the most impressive trees to be seen in Ohio are in Wayne County.  Yesterday we traveled to Johnson Woods, a State Nature Preserve just outside of Orrville.  The locals have always called it "The Big Woods." 

Several of the trees here are over 400 years old.  Imagine: they were already growing when the Pilgrims arrived in America! This towering Old Growth Forest was  featured in the book Among the Ancients  (by Joan Maloof.)  It inspired our visit, and has re-awakened my interest in trees.

 These giants dwarfed the mere humans on the board walk.  To appreciate an old growth forest, one must consider the whole ecosystem.  The rich forest floor is fed by fallen trees and leaves.  Forests do just fine without human "management."  This rich eco-system boasted more chipmunks, mushrooms and wildflower than you could shake a stick at.

Birders talk of "warbler neck,"
 but we were experiencing "tree neck."  My father is gaping at the dizzying height of one of the giants.  Friends and family were leaning back and pointing, like tourist seeing sky-scrapers for the first time.

Fall color is starting to arrive with the blackgum trees.  They are always the first red flags to wave autumn in. This giant of a Blackgum- or Tupelo- as some call them, had us all craning our necks to admire the view.

Johnson Woods is an wonderfully wet woods with several open stands of Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis  and Turtlehead, Chelone glabra.  A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was enjoying the nectar in this clearing and putting on a good show.

We are so fortunate to have this forest monument preserved for our enjoyment. Schedule an afternoon there and look closely at the entire eco-system.  It is filled with life and death- the very stuff of nature.


  1. There is something very spiritual about an old growth stand of trees..I always feel so humble when I get the chance to visit there.

  2. Amen, Debbie. This place is a regular cathedral!

    We need to protect more trees.

  3. Looks wonderful. I've never been there but will check it out someday. Thanks for the info and inspiration.

  4. Cindy,
    You'll want to check out Lawrence Woods in Hardin County too!

  5. I didn't know there was any such woods in my neck of the woods.