All posts tagged: wild flower

Half a World Away

When the Internet publicity began, I remember being struck by how much the world was not the way we thought it was, that there was infinite variation in how people viewed the world. – Eric Schmidt – The Belchen (35 Km south of Freiburg) is a mountain in the Black Forest of Germany. The Belchen Cableway takes you up to scenic viewpoints and hiking trails. If you do a web search for The Belchen, you will find lots of photos of the scenery, but no photos of a bee and some thistles on the grassy slopes of the flanks of the mountain. You also won’t find very many moderately funny or interesting quotations about variations. Until now… I’ve been getting a lot of science fiction scripts which contained variations on my Star Trek character and I’ve been turning them down. I strongly feel that the next role I do, I should not be wearing spandex. – Marina Sirtis – Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth. – Bernice Fitz-Gibbon – …

Blue-Eyed Grass – Easily Overlooked

With tiny flowers only 1/4 inch (6mm) wide, that only open in the morning, it is easy to see why I’ve only found Blue-Eyed Grass in my Alberta yard on three occasions. This time my transient wild flower popped up in a bed close to the garage. I just happened to pass the bed in the morning, when it was in full bloom. The flower closes tight in the afternoon, and that makes the plant almost invisible among the other grasses. Plant Profile Common Name: Blue-Eyed Grass Scientific Name: Sisyrinchium montanum Native to: A perennial that grows in open meadows all across Canada; Midwestern and North Eastern U.S.A. Growth: Loves full sun and medium to moist soil, but is drought tolerant, can grow in shady areas and is extremely resilient. Grows 10-50 cm tall. Blooms: Purpley-blue star shaped flowers with yellow eyes; blooms from May to July.The flowers open early in the morning and close by midday Comment: The grass like leaves are a reminder that this plant is a member of the Iris family. …

Striped Coralroot Orchid – On Going Unnoticed

I thought I had met most of the residents of my forest (north of Calgary, Alberta) – I’ve been tromping along it’s paths looking at plants and birds and bugs for 26 years! But in early June, I discovered a ‘new to me’ plant – a Striped Coralroot Orchid. I don’t know how long this tiny 13 cm (5 inch) plant has lived here – perhaps for years, or maybe it is a fairly new arrival! Robert Frosts poem, On Going Unnoticed, exactly captured my thoughts as I looked down on the small clump of beautiful pinky-red flowers – they “… look up small from the forest’s feet“. If I hadn’t been walking in that area at the same moment that a small shaft of sunlight briefly illuminated the tiny plants, I would probably never have found them. Plant Profile Common Name: Striped Coralroot Orchid Scientific Name: Corallorhiza striata Native to: Found in shaded forests and wooded areas across southern Canada and the western and central United States Growth: Coralroot is a member of the …

Lady’s Slipper Orchid Mimics the Old Masters

There is a small patch of Lady’s Slipper Orchids in the ditch near our place. It really is a miracle that this small group of delicate flowers continues to live where they do. Browsing deer and the county mowing program reduce the chances that the flowers will multiply by seed. Here are the photos I took of them, but I’ve described them as a painter would! The Mona Orchid by Margio da Antelope Street Margio used an inverted pyramid design to place the flower simply and calmly in the space of the photograph. The enigmatic and slightly open mouth expression, common to the entire Orchid family, is a genetic adaptation that allows Mona to call out to her family, “Heads down! The county mowing machine is heading our way!” Mona and her family really should move further from the edge of the road… ________________________ Someone’s Mother by Margie (a Whistling Bird is nearby) Margie achieves tonal composition and harmony in a simple pose of quiet contemplation. You find a lot of junk when you’re searching …

Seeds of Discussion – So Many Types

A new word is like a fresh seed sown on the ground of the discussion. – Ludwig Wittgenstein – We moved to Houston, Texas in January of 1979. We learned a lot of new words there, not the least of which was Y’all! Gardening was a whole new experience too, what with planting a lawn with sprigs, avoiding fire ants, and experimenting with wonderfully boisterous plants like Pampas Grass! Unfortunately we were only there for a year, but every time I travel to a warmer climate, I take pictures of Pampas Plumes and think about our home in Texas. I found these plumes in  Port Townsend in Washington. _______________ Clematis – in the fall the flowers morph into silky balls of shining hairs. These eventually dry and become big puffballs of seeds. These particular clematis (yellow) grow well in our province – so well that in some areas they have been labelled invasive. Invasive! I’d say they were just well adapted to take advantage of any location – sort of the Walmart of the plant …

Dandelion – Common Weed with Beautiful Seeds

Roses are red, Violets are blue; But they don’t get around Like the dandelions do. – Slim Acres – The Common Dandelion. Would you be surprised to know it is part of the Daisy family? And that at one time in Europe it was carefully cultivated because it was edible? That is why it was brought to North America by our forefathers. It was a  source of food! The leaves can be cooked or used in salads and are high in Vitamins A, C and K. The roots can be dried and used as a coffee substitute.  The flowers can be made into wine. The seed heads are  food for some birds. At least, that is what I’ve read about dandelions. I’ve never actually tasted dandelion, until today. I found a few nice healthy plants in my flower beds – not too big, unblemished dark green leaves. I picked a few leaves, took them inside, washed them well, and bit off a mouthful… Ugh – quite bitter, really. Maybe that is because it is late …

Noxious Weeds – the Outlawed Flowers

Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds. – Norman Ralph Augustine – I try to be law abiding, but to be honest, it is a hard thing to do. With so many lawmakers in so many levels of government, there is just no way of knowing whether what I did legally yesterday, is possibly illegal today! No where is this more true than in the garden. Each year another plant is added to the noxious weed list, and some of them are on the prohibited list. Probably the most well known noxious weed in farming country is the Canada Thistle. Introduced from Europe, it is a very successful plant. I pull it out by the roots when I find it in my yard, but it is easy to find and admire elsewhere because it is so commonly found. It is beautiful when it flowers! Though I have been growing these Shasta Daisies for tens of years, they are closely related to the Ox-Eye Daisies, which are considered noxious. I keep my daisies in check …

Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise In the Ditch

I’ve lost track of how many times I have walked the road that leads from our property to the main road. Hundreds, I suppose. Round trip is about a mile and a half. In nice weather, it is a good place to walk. In poor weather… well, there are more comfortable places to walk, like the treadmill in my basement… The road is bordered by a deep ditch which is a repository for all sorts of things. When I walk the road I scan the ditch, looking for items of interest. A few months back I found the little folder of registration and insurance papers that were stolen from our Jeep. Maybe someday I will also find the garage door opener that disappeared in that theft! On one side of the road is a field of hay. It is fenced with barbed wire. I suppose at one time the fence had a purpose, but today it is just a small hurdle for the deer, and a good place for the native birds to sit. About …