Fleabane on the Alvar at Singing SandsPosted: July 22, 2013 Filed under: Mineral World, Ontario, Plant Life | Tags: alvar, Bruce Peninsula National Park, erigeron philadelphicus, Fleabane, flowers, nature photography, Ontario, Philadelphia Fleabane, Singing Sands, wildflowers Leave a comment
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.
Blue-eyed GrassPosted: July 13, 2013 Filed under: Ontario, Plant Life | Tags: blue-eyed grass, Bruce Peninsula, Canada, dorcas bay, Dorcas Bay Fen, fen, flowers, nature, nature photography, Ontario, wildflowers Leave a comment
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.
Northern Pitcher PlantPosted: July 11, 2013 Filed under: Ontario, Plant Life, Uncategorized | Tags: Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada, dorcas bay, Dorcas Bay Fen, fen, flowers, insect eating plants, insects, Lake Huron, leaves, nature, northern pitcher plant, Ontario, pitcher plant, plants, Singing Sands, wildflowers Leave a comment
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.)
Large Yellow Lady’s SlippersPosted: July 3, 2013 Filed under: Ontario, Plant Life | Tags: audubon society field guide, Bruce Peninsula, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada, cyprus lake trail, flowers, Lady's Slippers, Large Yellow Lady's Slippers, nature, Ontario, orchids, plants, Tobermory, wildflowers Leave a comment
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.
Kortright Centre in SpringPosted: June 1, 2013 Filed under: Ontario, Plant Life, Water | Tags: black and white photography, Canada, ferns, green, hike, Kortright Centre for Conservation, natural world, nature, nature photography, Ontario, peacefulness, spring, Stream, trees, walk in the woods, wildflowers, woods Leave a comment
Last weekend I went to Kortright Centre for Conservation for a walk in the woods. The day was cool and sunny—perfect weather for hiking in comfort. The woods were a vibrant green, a little deeper in hue than the first yellow green of spring.
I photographed the woods and stream in colour and when I wanted to emphasize patterns, I moved to black and white.
As always, when I am at Kortright, I felt a great sense of peacefulness to be in those welcoming woods, so close to Toronto and yet in a world so different.
Todmorden MillsPosted: March 15, 2013 Filed under: Ontario, Plant Life, Toronto | Tags: beauty, cars, heritage site, nature, Ontario, snow, Todmorden Mills, Toronto, trees, wildflowers, winter, woods Leave a comment
Last Friday I went to Todmorden Mills, a heritage site in Toronto adjacent to a wildflower preserve. Todmorden Mills is off Pottery Road, near Bayview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway, so this visually beautiful place has a backdrop of rushing traffic. Often I cannot shut out the distressing sound of the cars, but was able to accept them this day and focus on the physical scene. Indeed, a disturbing part of living in the city is the necessity of shutting down senses at times as a form of self-preservation.
However, last week as I walked around the grounds I did enjoy the snow that hadn’t fully melted in the valley, the trees, shrubs, stream and old buildings. I imagined what the land this city sits on might have looked like in the late 1700s when a sawmill and grist mill were built here. The strangeness of roaring cars and trucks adjacent to the remains of this old community brought forth feelings I’ve had before about being in two worlds. And, at the same time, I felt refreshed by spending an hour or so in this bit of preserved nature and history in the midst of the city.
Grasslands ProtectionPosted: November 2, 2012 Filed under: Grasslands, Plant Life | Tags: Canada, Community Pasture Program, Grasslands, Grasslands National Park, hike, lichen, natural world, nature, plains, prairie, prairies, Rocks, Saskatchewan, saskatchewan canada, wildflowers 8 Comments
Recently I learned that our Canadian federal government has cut a prairie land protection program called the Community Pasture Program. The government is turning care for grasslands outside the national park over to the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There are people concerned about Saskatchewan’s plans to sell what remains of this fragile landscape at market value rates. They fear that much of what is left of the grasslands could be lost to development of different types and have started a petition to speak up for the continued protection of this land.
I do not live on the prairies but have travelled to Saskatchewan three times over the past few years. There we drove through vast plains and grasslands and hiked in the Grasslands National Park. What we experienced was a hauntingly beautiful land. Contrary to what I’d heard for years, I did not find the plains of Saskatchewan boring. While they are not dramatic like the Rockies, the grasslands have the deep, elemental feel of sky and land seen over huge distances. We felt in the presence of something ancient.
In Grasslands National Park, where we hiked on rolling hills and up buttes, we saw stones patterned by lichen, wildflowers, mule deer, sky and land in full circles as far as the eye could see. We felt a deep connection to this unadorned land and to life.
Generally, when looking at protecting parts of nature, people take different sides and fight with one another. We are divided by politics and by economics among all the other things we humans cannot agree on. However, I wonder whether we share something in common. And that is, a love of some aspect of nature, be it land or water, light or clouds, trees, flowers, other animals or, in this case, grasslands. This can only happen if we have had the chance to experience nature first hand in a way that matters to us and have not been deprived of the experience, say, in city neighbourhoods devoid of nature.
And although I write using the dividing words human and nature, I return to my first blog post where I thought we could use a new word to unite us—something like humanature. Because, although nature is generally defined as the world other than human, we are animals and a part of nature. If we learn to see ourselves and our place on earth in this way, new perspectives open from the question: why should I care if such and such a part of the natural world disappears, goes extinct or is polluted. If we see ourselves as part of nature, the protection of other parts of the natural world is really a protection of ourselves. Perhaps this seems far-fetched or poetic in the face of daily concerns with making a living and just getting by. However, I don’t think so. I believe that to save and restore what we call the natural world is actually a way of saving and revitalizing humanity.
Parallel WorldsPosted: August 22, 2012 Filed under: Animal Life, Ontario, Plant Life, Toronto | Tags: birds, Brick Works, Canada, cicadas, expressway, milkweed, natural setting, natural space, nature, shrubs, thistles, Toronto, trees, wildflowers Leave a comment
I went for more walks on the weekend and mid week to the Brick Works in Toronto, Canada to be in a natural setting. Each time, I took the usual route down a hill, then beside railway tracks. This part of town is very close to the Don Valley Parkway, a busy expressway. Yet there are natural settings all around: trees, parkland and shrubs.
I love seeing the flowers and grasses that grow wild along the edges of railway tracks–those discarded places reclaimed by nature. The wildflowers here were profuse, with the yellows and whites now joined by purples. I could hear birds singing above the din of cars and the buzzing of cicadas. I was struck by what seemed to be the parallel worlds I was walking through: the thundering traffic where we are insulated in cars and trucks and the natural setting of plants, birds and insects. This is not a new observation; many people must feel this. However, it struck me more dramatically than it had before. I felt I was walking in a corridor between two worlds.