Friday, July 31, 2015

Little (not quite native) Orchid

 This little  orchid, Helleborine orchid, that I thought was native , is actually an introduction from Europe. It likes to grow in the shadier areas of our lawn and garden, or pop up in a flower bed. It is a perennial and in some parts of the US is considered invasive, but it certainly is not aggressive where we are in Ontario.
 It's an easy plant to miss because this is what it looks like from above - not very exciting with dull brownish flowers.
But look at the underside, and you'll find quite a fancy flower.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

More Weeds

Not plants, I know, but honestly the geese have been reproducing like crazy this year.  This group started as 3 adults.  Now the babies have matured and the number has swelled to 15 or so.  Earlier in the summer, we saw at the local park two pairs of geese with at least 30! babies.  Could be an idea for a horror movie:  Invasion of the Honkers.
 This pretty fireweed is quite civilized.  Only a few plants growing in a weedy patch.

And more weeds just because I really enjoy the diversity of colour and form that you find in weedy spaces.  And often they just look so good together.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


The light was perfect the other day for capturing the lovely blue colour of the wild chicory.
 A pretty display, but watch out for the poison ivy at the front and the yellow wild parsnip, both of which can give nasty rashes. The white Queen Anne's lace is harmless.
 Elecampane.  I really like the giant leaves.  This plant is almost 5' high.  That's a specimen plant.  I'm wondering if I should try to collect seed and plant one at home.
The yellow elecampane flowers are like yellow asters or yellow daisies.  Understated compared with the rest of the plant.
I'm not sure what this is.  It looks  like stinging nettles, but the flowers are purple instead of whitish green , and it doesn't seem to have any prickles.
 Pale mauve button thistles, or at least that's what I call them.
Bright yellow sow-thistle flower.  Such a rich yellow.
 Not sure what these leaves are, but I like the red ribs and vase shape.
Milkweed.  They always smell lovely.  No sign of monarch caterpillars.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


These two are not your run-of-the-mills horses.  Their markings are far from conventional. But they don't give a hoot; they just enjoy each other's company.
I was thinking today about the flow of life, and how one year builds on the other until we get to be old and then, looking back, we see more of the pattern of our life.
When I was born, my dad had just finished reconstructing a log house. That was unusual.
When I started school, I went to a French Catholic school.  I was the only English Protestant kid in my class.   That was unusual.
When I was 4, I decided to play the violin. No other kids in my school played the violin, let alone classical violin.  That was unusual.
I grew up in ski country, but I decided that any money available for sports would go for horseback riding.  That was unusual.
When my husband and I decided we needed a house, we built it, as in cut the boards and nailed them together.  No mortgage.  That was unusual.
I stayed at home while my kids were growing up and helped care for my elderly widowed mother-in-law .  That was unusual.
In my twenties, I became a Christian.  That was unusual.
So how did this unusual stuff influence my life?
To begin with, my dad introduced me to some interesting  people, and he showed me to think outside the box.
Spending time in French school, made me feel at home with another culture, and I think has helped me to have an open mind about people in general.
 Studying classical music gave me an appreciation for all kinds of music as it trained my ear.
  Working with horses, helped me tame my fears, and being closely involved with horses has given me a greater appreciation for all of nature.  Horsey people tend to be a pragmatic bunch, and they taught me to not make mountains out of molehills.
 Building a house was an adventure, and being debt-free was truly a blessing through all the years.
 I've made lots of space in my life for family.  I have been able to get to know my special people more deeply than I would have if I had been more preoccupied with other endeavours.
Becoming a Christian taught me truths I never would have learned otherwise. And I have gotten to share this adventure with some amazing people.
My life has been unusual , although not in any dramatic ways.  But I am thankful that I learned that it's OK to do things differently from the cultural norm, because sometimes those quirky paths lead to some really special people and experiences.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cardinal Flower and Fancy Daylily

The Cardinal Flower is native to southeastern Canada and northeastern USA, and usually grows beside streams.  I have never seen it in the wild, but I have grown it as a garden plant.  Sometimes you see it in the garden centres, or you can buy seeds and start them yourself.  I like it because it is such a vibrant red.
 Officially, it is a perennial , but I've never been able to get it to last more than one winter.  Frustrating as it makes basal rosettes so it would get bigger every year if it didn't die.  I started some plants this year from seed, and I'm hoping that if I give them good protection this winter that they will survive.
This is some fancy variety of daylily(can't remember the name) that I bought from Veseys a few years ago. I had it in a different spot that probably didn't get enough sun because it never bloomed.  Finally this year, after moving it last fall to a sunnier location, it has bloomed.  Quite pretty, but I think I will stick to the more dependable rebloomers in the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Orange and Purple

I've had a bad cold this past week, so I thought I should take a few photos to cheer me up.  The nasturtiums are starting to bloom and so I tried a close-up of one of them.

 I like the purple glistening in the background.
The Jackmanii clematis, as usual, giving a good show. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another Plug for Native Bees- We Can Help Them

Although I have true bumblebees  (bees with yellow or orange fuzzy bodies) early in the season, as more wild flowers start blooming, they seem to move on and I see more carpenter bees. Both kinds of bees are important pollinators.
I heard yet another item on the radio about bee declines, including our native bumblebees (honey bees are not native to Canada). The scientists said that bumblebees don't travel around much so even a small garden geared to them can be very helpful to their survival.
With that in mind, here are some suggested plants to make a happy home for the bees. Of course, never use pesticides. If you have a balanced garden (a variety of insects,birds, toads,and plants), you will have minimal insect damage anyway.
Early in the season :  crocuses, and pulmonaria  (absolute favourites), dandelions , forget-me-nots ,
Going into summer: cranesbill(perennial geranium), ajuga (a good groundcover),
beebalm, snapdragon, sage, butterfly weed, yarrow, nasturtium, petunias.
Don't forget that the bees will happily visit fruit trees ,peas, beans and tomatoes. If you let a bit of broccoli go to flower, they like that, too.
Later in summer: rudbeckia hirta, echinacea, sedum, heliopsis, heirloom sunflowers.
Early fall: goldenrod, asters.
There are lots of other shrubs and flowers that bees like, especially ones with clusters of small flowers.
You will notice that the list is a combination of native and domesticated plants.  It is so easy to have both in a garden, and this provides great variety and a steady nectar supply for the bees.
Also provide your bees with places to shelter - a little brush pile, a few stacked logs, a bit of gravelly ground.  Insects like an environment that's not too manicured.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Banded Hairstreak Butterfly

 I noticed this little fellow flitting around the garden.  Took a few tries to get a somewhat focused photo of him as he didn't like me getting too close.  I love his striped antenna and stockings.
I'm not sure why this butterfly is named "hairstreak", but I'm guessing it has something to do with the feathery streamers at the back of the lower wings.
The caterpillars like oak, hickory and walnut, especially butternut.  Alas, I think all our butternuts have died.  We do have hickory trees, so maybe that's what the caterpillars have been eating.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Viper's Bugloss

 Viper's Bugloss is a plant that grows wild in North America and Europe.  It has wonderful blue flowers with pink stamens, and its  stem has purple spots and many small prickles.
Viper's Bugloss usually grows in a sunny location where the soil is well-drained, say the gravelly edge of a road. It forms a basal rosette and sends up several flowering stalks.  Because it's unlike any other native flower, it's easy to identify.
Bees, butterflies and other pollinators like to visit the blue flowers.
For some really great up-close photos of it, Google "Viper's Bugloss" and open the article titled "A Close-up View of the Strange Flower - Viper's Bugloss".