Article and Photos by Amanda Kiplinger
Before I begin this article, I have to say I haven’t been to this nature preserve in many years. Unfortunately, there were ash trees in this preserve and many of them have fallen due to the Emerald Ash Bore. This bug has devastated the ash trees here in Ohio. I do not have the original images from this article. The photographs were made on transparency film.
One of my favorite happenings during spring is the blossoming of wildflowers. The best place to witness this magical time of spring in Ohio is Fowlers Woods Nature Preserve.
Fowlers Woods is a 133-acre state nature reserve. It has a well-kept 1 3/4 mile wood boardwalk with guardrails on either side so it is handicap accessible. During the comfortable hike you will discover not only does the preserve have an abundance of wildflowers, including marsh marigolds, violets, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty, phlox and the largest concentration of white trilliums and jack-in-the pulpits, it also contains a large group of old-growth trees including ash, beech and maples. There are also several low areas that areas that are water-covered most of the year swamps where you can observe the inhabitants as well as the wildflowers and native trees that you will find the reserve.
The swamp and pools in the preserve support a wide variety of breeding amphibians during the spring and early summer months. During the time of the year when you visit the preserve an orchestra of courting frogs will serenade you. The preserve also supports a variety of nesting birds including redheaded woodpeckers, ovenbird, redstart, scarlet tanager and other various other species of birds. There are also various mammals that inhabit the preserve including, raccoons, red squirrels, opossums, chipmunks, mice and white tail deer.
The main reason why I visit the preserve is for the spring wildflowers. The marsh marigolds and phlox create a carpet of wildflowers on the forest floor. It is one of the most beautiful sites you can witness during the spring season. But your timing is crucial if you want to capture the wildflowers at the height of their color and bloom. In fact when I logged on to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website and it state that the wildflowers were starting to blossom. I started visiting the nature preserve once or twice a week. I learned the hard way two years ago if you do not go at least once a week you will miss out on the peak blooms of the wildflowers.
The past spring season I wanted to concentrate on the marsh marigolds and trilliums. They begin to bloom in mid-April and are done blooming by the beginning of May when the trees foliage starts opening up and blocking the sun’s rays from the wildflowers.
I discovered that you do not want to photograph the wildflowers too late in the evening or too early in the morning because, even without the leaves on the trees, the forest is still dense enough to block out the sun. I like to photograph the wildflowers in the evening about a couple of hours before sunset. The sunlight is still bright enough to penetrate through the forest is not bright enough to overwhelm the scene.
When deciding on what equipment to use when photographing these wildflowers to use when photographing these wildflowers I like to use a whole range of lenses. I use a 90mm macro lens, a 24-70mm wide angle zoom lens and a 75-300mm zoom lens. This way I could photograph different angles of the wildflowers. I used the 75-300 when I could not get close enough to certain flowers, otherwise I would trample over some really magnificent wildflowers. I prefer using standard Fuji Velvia as well as Kodak 100VS for its saturation of the yellow and vibrant greens of spring.
To reach Fowlers Woods Nature Preserve (I am warning you, it is in the middle of nowhere by Ohio standards and if you don’t know exactly where it’s at you’ll end up driving right past it). The preserve is located in Richland County. Mansfield is the largest city in the county. It is about city miles northwest of Columbus. The preserve is about 20 miles to the north of Mansfield. There is a small town called Olivesburg. The preserve is 6 miles northwest of Olivesburg on the Olivesbrug-Fitchville Road just south of its junction with Noble Road. You may purchase a Division Directory which contains maps to these areas.
Again I would like to say that this is one of my favorite areas to photograph wildflowers. I would like to also say that if you have an opportunity to come to this preserver, particularly during the spring please stop and take the time to visit this wonderful nature preserve.
I would like to acknowledge that the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves provided some of the information found in the article.