Heggie’s Rock Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and is yet another example of a granite outcrop community, much like Arabia Mountain
. I was curious to see it because it’s said to be the most pristine of Georgia’s flat rock outcrops.
So last Saturday, I went along on a special guided tour meant for “serious” photographers. I was concerned with not being “serious” enough, of course, but no one checked my credentials.
Granite outcrops are difficult places for the plants that try to make a life there. The temperatures are extreme and there’s not much soil. In fact, the plants arrange themselves into zones according to soil depth. The hot, dry conditions foster plant life that dramatically differs from that of the surrounding forest… many are perennials that grow very slowly; others are winter annuals that survive the desert-like summer months as seeds.
Many of the winter annuals have adaptations like whitish hairs to reflect sunlight and smallish leaves that reduce surface-area water loss; others, like the Elf’s Orpine (pictured here and above) are succulents that store water in swollen leaves and stems.
This environment was a first for many in our small group of “serious” photographers; this lady earned innumerable points in my book for forgoing the tripod and getting down on her belly in the dirt to make her photos!
Mosses and lichen dry out and darken (or turn silver like this one!) but immediately turn green with moisture. We tested this out with our water bottles; the response was almost immediate.
Unfortunately, there was no “serious” plant person in our group to tell me the name of this one.
There’s something in the experience of an outcrop that’s very difficult to convey in a photograph; a wide-angle view mutes the beauty somehow, but the color contrasts feel lost without the context of the whole expanse. I dunno… I love the contrasts of texture and color in this pic. That’s enough, I guess!
Occasionally, there’s a brighter view where the soil is deep enough to support it. Just ahead of the woody shrubs, the yellow blooms are Rabbit’s Ear, I think.
The Elf’s Orpine is the star of the show, of course. The environment here is very, very dry but the blooming things still manage to arrange themselves artfully among the lichen-covered rocks.
I’d really like to know what this stuff is… any guesses?
Another artful arrangement… especially interesting because you can “see” the soil depth based on the plants that are growing… the unnamed plant in the deepest part of the solution pool, leading to the Elf’s Orpine blooming in the dry sand on the right, and the lichen covering the bare granite.
Pretty with pinecones.
I love the weird moonscape of granite outcrops here in GA; I love how stark they are and I especially love how surprising the color and beauty can be when you get down on your belly to find it. I love The Nature Conservancy for putting this place behind a fence to protect it for all of us “serious” folks to enjoy.
Heggie’s Rock is open to the public on a limited basis… check here.
Please go; it’s beautiful!