Hi people. I’m still alive after my recent break from posting. The old computer suddenly ceased functioning with an electrical short and a puff of the scary scent of electrical burning filling the rooms. Since then I’ve been learning a new system. These dwarf irises are from a Toronto garden in May. Since then great blossoming has taken place. We’ve had daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, redbud trees, magnolias, crabapples and cherry blossoms. These have all gone and now we’re awash with the fading, but still romantic scent of lilacs, lilies of the valley and peonies.
It’s very windy and hovering around freezing today. Back to dreams of spring. This is another photo from last year, soon to arrive in Toronto, believe it or not.
The temperature goes up and down as we make our way to warmer weather. I found the following photograph of crocuses that I took in mid April last year. Crocuses have even entered my dreams–I came upon a scene the other night very much like what’s pictured in the photo.
I’m taking a break from the cold and going to Larkwhistle Garden in my mind. Larkwhistle is a terrific garden on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario that has been created and gardened by Patrick Lima and John Scanlan. For decades, they have opened the garden to visitors in the summer. But last year, they decided to end those public visiting days.
We have gone to this place of beauty for years since travelling to the peninsula and it remains with me in memories of flowers, birds and grace. And with thanks to Patrick and John for what they have created and generously shared.
While I was on the Bruce Peninsula, I saw many patches of lovely pink/white and yellow flowering Fleabane. The flowers are 1/2 – 1″ wide on a plant 6 – 36″ high. Fleabane is in the aster family. It got its name from the belief that the dried flower heads would get rid of fleas, according to the Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers. This particular type is, I believe, Philadelphia Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus. A similar plant called Robin’s Plantain, Erigeron pulchellus seems to have fewer white/pink ray petals. If I’ve gotten this wrong, do let me know.
These shown above are at Singing Sands, on the alvar, the pitted rocks. I learned that alvars only exist in Estonia, Sweden and the Great Lakes Basin. Water from rain or melting snow collects in the rocks’ small depressions along with silt and sand. These provide growing places for plants that are able to live in harsh conditions.
On the boardwalk through the Dorcas Bay Fen on the Bruce Peninsula, I also came across tiny Blue-eyed Grass flowers. Lovely gems, blue-purple, growing near their larger showier Iris relatives. The flowers are around a half inch wide and the plant can grow from four to twenty inches high. Their Latin name is Sisyrinchium angustifolium.
When I was on the Bruce Peninsula in June, we went to Singing Sands, part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. The Sands are on the Lake Huron side of the peninsula with an expanse of beach and waters that remain very shallow far out. Bordering the Sands are a woodland and fen where I took a short walk on a raised boardwalk and photographed some of the plants growing there.
The National Park signs say that a fen is a wetland with some drainage, often a stream. The Dorcas Bay Fen has much calcium in it, but is low in nitrogen. This makes it a good habitat for plants that get their nitrogen from insects. The pitcher plant is one of those. Insects that are attracted to their flowers may fall into their pitcher shaped leaves or they may be attracted to the coloured lips of the leaves. There, among downward pointing hairs, they are trapped, fall into collected water and drown. Their nutrients are then absorbed by the plant, both by enzymes it secretes and by bacteria breaking down the animal. Adventures of life and death at all levels in nature!
The Northern Pitcher Plant’s Latin name is Sarracenia purpurea. Its sci-fi looking flowers are around 2″ wide and the pitcher leaves can be 4 – 12″ long. The plant ranges in height from 8 – 24″. (Thanks again for these details to my copy of the Audubon Wildflower Field Guide.)
When we were on the Bruce Peninsula, the yellow lady’s slippers were in bloom. They were by the roadside, in laneways and in the National Park where they were a delight to see.
Their Latin name is Cypripedium calceolus. They’re members of the orchid family, one of a variety of orchids that the Peninsula is known for. The orchid grows to 8 to 28 inches tall with the yellow lip petal about 2 inches long. This is according to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers and to my own observation. Though I did not go out and about with a tape measure!
I’ve included a photo from a laneway near where we stayed and from The Cyprus Lake Trail in the National Park.
Last week, black locust trees were in bloom in Toronto. Their sweet perfume filled the air at Todmorden Mills where I’d walked. I love their profuse, cascading blossoms.
I went to Todmorden Mills in Toronto in the early evening yesterday. It was cool and sunny and my preoccupations of the day left me as I got closer to the trees, freshly mown grass, birds and flowers in this bit of preserved nature. The irony of its being so close to the Don Valley Expressway is never far from consciousness.
There’s a wildflower preserve at the site—a short trail through forest by ponds. There I saw yellow and violet irises growing by the water, plus many wild phlox. I came upon a man and his beloved dog having a walk as well as a jogger. Many robins, sparrows, red winged blackbirds and cardinals were with me.
In that short hour my mood went from preoccupied and low to extremely peaceful.