Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Fungi

This fungi covers the whole surface of a low stump.
Reminiscent of seashell patterns.

A fungi growing on a dead birch tree.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tamarack trees

Tamarack trees belong to the larch family. The word "tamarack" is Native American for "wood for snowshoes". As the name implies, the wood is durable and pliable. It's easy to miss tamaracks in the summer when their green needles blend in with all the other green trees, but at this time of year they really stand out. They are the only tree in Ontario with needles that turn yellow in the fall. In the photo above, several tamaracks form a background for cedars.
The little seed cones are reminiscent of hemlock cones.
The needles grow in tufts like some pine trees.
Tamaracks will grow in a variety of soil conditions but they need a sunny location to survive. If they are planted with other trees that will grow faster than them, chances are that, over time, the other trees will begin to shade the tamaracks and they will die out.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tribute to Hickstead

Sadly this past Sunday, Hickstead, the best show jumping horse in the world, died of an apparent heart attack at a show in Italy. Hickstead was an amazing horse. Ridden by Canadian Eric Lamaze, he captured the individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In 2010, Hickstead was named "Best Horse in the World" at the World Equestrian Games in the US. He won numerous world class competitions virtually always with a flawless performance. He was a beautiful dark bay Dutch warmblood stallion that Eric trained from the time Hickstead was 7 years old. Eric said of him: "He's feisty , he knows why he is out there, and he knows that knocking down a rail is not good." Feisty is a bit of an understatement - this horse was powerful, strong-willed and full of energy. I can't imagine what he must of been like to train but for sure it was challenging. But Eric found a way to get inside that horse's heart and head and together they were fabulous to watch. Hickstead would be all concentration as he went around the jumping course and his form was always perfect, every leg tucked up as much as possible over the jumps. You could see that he wanted to have a clear round. Although he was smaller than many of the other horses, he was able to beat them at speed classes. Riders around the world loved to watch Eric and Hickstead because it was such a special partnership. They were just so in synch with each other. Eric was a talented rider from the time he began riding as a young person, but he had challenges in his personal life. He used drugs for a time and struggled to keep his life on track. He came very close to being banned from the Canadian equestrian team for life, but working with Hickstead seemed to straighten things out for him . Now, he owns a training stable and is well respected in the riding community. His relationship with Hickstead helped him so much more than just allowing him to win competitions. Eric has other horses to ride and he will be part of the 2012 Olympic team, but there will never be a horse like Hickstead. If you want to watch Eric and Hickstead, you can see clips on youtube.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Late Season Berries

Here are some berries I spied the other day. These red berries are found on the false Solomon seal plants that are native to our area.

The blue berries are found on the blue cohosh plant that is native to our woods. Looks like a blueberry, but not edible.

These bright berries are peeking through the fronds of my asparagus plants. Asparagus has male and female plants, and only the female plants make berries.

Have a good weekend everybody. We are expected to have more sun. What a treat to have sun in November.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beech Tree

We have several American beech trees on our property. They are a beautiful tree with lovely form and striking green glossy leaves in the summer that turn a rich orangey brown in fall. The leaves stay on the trees well into the winter, unusual for a deciduous tree. This little one almost looks like a shrub but will eventually grow into a very tall tree.
This tree is about twenty feet tall .
This one is probably about 50' tall. It has lost a lot of its upper leaves but there are more leaves on the lower branches.
Beech trees have smooth grey bark and, with the flaring at the base for the roots, the trunks always remind me of elephant legs and feet.
At this time of year, the new buds have formed ready to open out next spring. The beech nuts , which I haven't seen yet on our trees probably because they are up 20' or so and then the squirrels get them, are three-sided and quite small. Buckwheat, the forage plant that makes white flowers and small black three-sided seeds, is actually named after the beech nut. Originally buckwheat was called beech wheat. Buckwheat isn't a beech and it isn't wheat either so it's a bit of a misnomer.