Sunday, September 14, 2014

Garden Flowers

There are still a surprising number of colourful flowers in bloom in the garden, even though it's only two weeks until the usual first fall frost.  Things are certainly fading though, and fall will arrive before we know it.  Here's a close look at a sample of current flowers.

And orange mum that is getting bigger every year and will have to be moved out of the veggie garden soon!

A very tall yellow coneflower - this is the one that stands above the fence, nearly 8' tall.

A deeper pink bloom on a Japanese Anemone, hiding among the Hollyhocks.

A blue Globe Thistle, Echinops.  I just like the appearance of this.

Another variety of Globe Thistle, Echinops.  Ditto.

This looks somewhat similar, but is actually a different plant, a variety of Sea Holly, Eryngium.

The centre of a Sneezeweed, Helenium.  I think it deserves a better name; it's very pretty, and it's never made me sneeze!

Our beautiful bluish-purple Buddleja.  We've seen these growing like enormous weedy shrubs along railway tracks in the UK, but here it's a prize plant in the garden, and a favourite of the Monarch Butterflies.

Just about the last Day Lily blooming in the garden.

And one of several Sedums, just a small corner of the blossoms.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Georgian Bay - After the Storm

The rain last Friday night continued for hours, a heavy downpour at times.  It picked up tiny grains of silt and clay, and carried them off the fields, down the ditches and into the creeks and streams, then into the Beaver River, and the Bighead River, the next watershed northwest.  And the swollen, now silt-laden brownish waters raced downhill into Georgian Bay where the wind was still blowing strongly onshore, out of the northwest.

After our usual visit to our local Farmer's Market, we headed up to Meaford to check out a 'Garlic Hut', stopping on the shore for the view.  The onshore winds were churning up the water near the shore, leaving it looking silty.

The waves were picking up the silt from the river as it entered the bay (between us and the harbour in the distance), and carrying it in to crash on the shore.

We were struck by the abrupt line between the silt-laden light brown waters of the river where it entered the bay, and the deep blue of the water from further out.  It was just like a knife cutting into the bay.

I couldn't quite believe the sharp line between the water from the river and that from the bay - a very strong onshore current from the bay, and a strong flow of silt-laden water down the river meeting each other abruptly!

In any case the view was beautiful, and I kept trying to capture the sound and movement of the crashing waves and strong wind as we wandered down the shore and picked up a hot dog from the vendor's stand for lunch.

Looking toward the headland, you can see a sliver of the deep blue water of the bay beyond, before the far shoreline.

At one point a single sailboat ventured out of the harbour.  They were having a bouncy ride, and I hope they were good sailors to be out in these waves.

This was Georgian Bay at its finest, on a beautiful September day.  I'm joining Donna's Personal Photo Challenge, which is 'movement' this month.  Do you think I've captured any sense of the moving waves/.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stormy Skies!

A week ago we  experienced the darkest stormy skies I ever remember!

The clouds swept in from the northwest fast!

Within only a moment or two it seemed, they covered half the sky.

At that point i hurried inside to check the radar and see what was coming.  It was a long line of thunderstorms stretching all across southern Ontario, moving souheast.  We're located  about halfway between the city of Owen Sound and the 'N' of Newmarket.

Within minutes the last of the light late afternoon sky was vanishing to the south.

The dark and stormy clouds were rolling over the entire sky.

At this point the rain began and quickly became a heavy downpour with thunder and lightning that continued for an hour or more.  I retreated inside.  I actually lightened some of thes photos trying to capture what I really saw.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fern Walk

I may not be able to identify Goldenrod species, but I can identify the fern species we have around here.  I decided long ago when I was getting seriously interested in natural history, and then had to spend some time lying still in hospital, to memorize the Latin names of the 40+ fern species in Ontario.

Very few people seem to be experts on ferns (they don't have pretty flowers, and don't fly in to your bird feeder), so I thought it was a group of plants I could relatively easily become an 'expert' on!  I've been teaching people to identify ferns ever since, though I don't flaunt my knowledge of the Latin names anymore (the only ones I know), because I often forget them anyway now!

We were walking the Crevice Springs Side Trail on the Bruce Trail, and immediately headed down a crevice to hunt for ferns.  This was a 'Slowpoke Walk' where we went slowly and stopped to look at things, not a 'hike'.

There were lots of ferns to see.  This is one of the most common in the habitat below the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, the Marginal Wood Fern, Dryopteris marginalis.  If you look closely you can see the sporangia (spore dots) right along the margins of the sub-leaflests.

Northern Holly Fern, Polystichum Lonchitis, is another that likes the limestone rock along the Escarpment, growing in a classic cluster of fronds reading out in all directions.

But this was my fern find of the day, the Interrupted Fern, Osmunda Claytoniana.  I hadn't seen one of this species in years, and never here in the Beaver Valley.  In the picture above the green frond, about 3 feet tall, is 'interrupted' by two missing leaflets, which instead are shrivelled small clusters of sporangia, in this species forming separate leaflets instead of dots on the back of the frond.

A closer look shows you the two missing green leaflets replaced by the fertile leaflets consisting of spore cases.  This arrangement is unique to this species.

I just liked this little cedar tree growing out of the top of a small stump.  Will its roots reach the ground in time to hold it up before the stump rots out beneath it?

And the remnant of one spring flower, the bright red seeds of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

This is the dedicated crew who opted to follow me on this walk, all of them really interested in learning about ferns.

And one of them taught me something - pointing out this crevice cave, reputedly the hiding place for smugglers bringing in liquor during the prohibition era!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Identifying Goldenrods (or Not!)

The dominant flower in our meadow at the moment is not one of those I showed yesterday, but Goldenrods. There are obviously several different species, and I've been trying to sort out which they are - without a lot of luck.  I need to be a better botanist.  But here are a few that appear to be different anyway, even if I can't tell you for sure what species they are.

You can see above how yellow the meadow looks at the moment, though there are a few asters and Queen Anne's Lace mixed in.  I use Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers to try and sort these out, and it recommends sorting the goldenrods into 5 growth forms.  I can do that, but getting them to the level of 'species' is a lot more challenging.

This one is the 'plume-like' growth form, and I think it is probably a Canada Goldenrod, one of the most common around here.

This one is clearly 'flat-topped' in growth form, and I think it might be Smooth Goldenrod.

Here's one with thin, wispy flower stems branching out sideways in the 'elm-branched' growth form, but I simply can't match it easily with any of the goldenrods in the book, because it's leaves, which are fairly broad rather than narrow, don't match the illustrations.

This is another I'm having difficulty with, though it's clearly the 'wand-like' growth form.  It has very narrow small leaves though, which again don't match anything in the book.

And this last one I think is Flat-topped Goldenrod - though there's a high likelihood I'm wrong on all counts. Besides the Peterson guide, there's also a specific pamphlet on the 'Asters, Fleabanes and Goldenrods of Grey and Bruce Counties'.  But when I try to match those up, it gets even more confusing.  As least I know I gave it a really good try - exercise for the brain!

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Nature Notes

Monday, September 8, 2014

Late Summer Flowers in the Meadow

The flowers that appear over the summer in our meadow (and lots of other old fields or roadsides around here) are another measure of the changing seasons.  In some ways these ones seem more 'real' than the ones we cultivate in our garden.  After all, they grow, bloom and reseed themselves with no assistance at all!

This is a Nodding Thistle along the roadside, a species that I don't often see around here.  We usually get the taller, multi-branched Canada Thistles.

There's still lots of Queen Anne's Lace around.  I like the view  from underneath against the sky.

There's still some Chicory blooming along the road; a rich blue if you catch in the early sun.

The New England Aster is now in bloom along one of our trails, perhaps the richest colour of our meadow flowers.

And there are Small White Asters all over the place at the moment.

A few Daisy Fleabane with their very fine blossoms.

And this is definitely not one of my favourite meadow flowers - the dreaded burdock.  But in fact if you catch it in bloom, the blossom is actually quite pretty.

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