Cranberry Bog

Did you hear the story about the scientist from Pickerington, Ohio who traveled to Germany to study bogs and was told one of the best examples in the world was in Licking County, Ohio? Yeah, only a stone’s throw from the researcher’s house. And so it often goes…. some of the best treasures are close to home.

I have been thinking how our local soil affects the success of what we grow. How acid or basic is the soil? What is the bedrock and how was it formed? These parent rocks and minerals are so critical in determining the type of soil and thus for me means I should never think of growing azaleas and blueberries will need amendments. Not far from my house, however, is a strange floating island where acid loving plants from regions much farther north are happily growing in a fragile time warp of an ecosystem. Cranberries, insectivorous plants like Round-leaved sundew and Northern pitcher plant and rare orchids are very happy in this swampy environment.

Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve was formed during the time of the Wisconsin glacier. They say that the island is now shrinking, due to erosion and the trees that are taking root and then toppling over because the sphagnum peat can’t support the weight. Every time a tree falls it takes with it a chunk of the island and opens it up to the disintegrating basic waters of Buckeye Lake. So periodically chunks of the island just float away. What started as a 22 acre island was 11 acres at the last survey and may be even smaller now. The environment is so fragile that you need a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It’s worth a visit, even if you have to come from across the ocean to see it.