Friday, May 20, 2022

It's Apple Blossom Time!

As you know there are a lot of apple orchards around Meaford and Clarksburg.  This is the top apple growing area in Ontario.  Well, it's time for those trees to bloom, and when you are there at the right time, the blossoms are wonderful!  Warning - too many pictures!

Apple blossoms emerge on different varieties of trees at different times, so it takes some time to find a tree like this in full bloom.  It's actually difficult to find a tree that you can drive up beside for pictures like this.  This one was beside the parking lot at Grandma Lambe's.

We were headed to Clarksburg to order some mulch, and we knew we'd be going past the big high density plantings of Red Prince apples.  But we spotted this older orchard with beautiful blooms as we were coming down Frogs Hollow Road,  It was exceptional.

In fact we were a little disappointed in the high density Red Prince orchards, and it's a different pattern of blossoms on all the small trees.

But on the way back to Meaford we pulled into Grandma Lambe's and were able to pull right up to this tree, obviously a very old tree that's been pruned heavily over the years.

The blossoms are certainly beautiful.

The bark on an old tree like this one is very scaly, and as you can see it's a big branch.

Then on the way home from physio by the back roads a day later, Mrs. F.G. spotted this patch of white on a distant hillside.  We had to go and check it out.

We drove down Grey Road 12 past the 'Canada' barn (you can even pick it out on Google Maps), and turned onto Sideroad 7.  We have been here before.

The sight of the blooming apple trees in the distance is tantalizing.

These again are older trees, all in full bloom.  We have concluded that the older trees in their widely-spaced style of orchard, actually provide a better blossom show - if you're there at the right time.

Unfortunately this orchard looked like it had not been pruned recently, with all the new stems growing straight up.  Perhaps a farm family is getting older and unable to do the work, with no successor, and unable to afford the enormous investment it takes to plant a high density orchard.  We hope we won't lose this spot to see apples blossoming.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Garden Update

Sorry for the slow posting recently, but our lives have been very busy!  We've had an upheaval in caregiving, for the better in the long run we hope!  In the nice weather of last week I was out every day, and I'm way behind on posting my photos.  In the meantime our garden has been exploding into growth, so here's an update.

The first of our small poppies bloomed bright yellow.

We have a magnificent white Bleeding-heart right at the front door,

And three dwarf Yellow Iris absolutely filled with blooms along the front sidewalk.

The hostas have been coming up fast, leaves still mostly curled up, and just beyond this one a pink Bleeding-heart.  Compare this one, growing in the shade, with the white one abovew, growing in full sun and both planted 4 years ago.

One of the treasures of the garden is the Fernleaf Peony, brought from our last home.  Here its beautiful dark red blooms sit behind a couple of the remaining Daffodils in bloom.

Among my personal favourites are the ferns, here the fresh fronds of the Christmas Fern unfolding.

Finally we are very pleased to see our Redbud in bloom!  Redbud is a small tree common much further south; we saw many of them on our trip to the Great Smokies a few years ago.  This was a tiny seedling 12" tall three years ago.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Spring Wildflowers, Part 2

It's the Trilliums we all look forward to here in Ontario, but they're actually among the last of the spring wildflowers to bloom here.  I doubt they'll be putting on their best display yet, but the way the weather is looking they may well be very soon.  Go out in a week or two and you'll see lots of them, as long as you know the right place to go!

Let me speak to that first.  The single best spot for finding a wide variety of spring wildflowers in the Beaver Valley is the Mac Kirk Side Trail  up on Old Baldy, the rocky cliff overlooking the village of Kimberley.  This is a wildflower walk I led there a few years back.
I should say before I forget, there are lots of less conspicuous spring wildflowers that I'm not covering here, including numerous different tiny wild violets like this white one.

The Wild Ginger is a flower many would miss, because it lies flat on the ground underneath these large green furry leaves, and it's reddish-brown so it doesn't stand out.

The Bellwort has a soft yellow flower that dangles below the leaves.

And there's the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, the unusual flower followed later by a cluster of bright red berries.

The Red Trillium emerges a little before the White Trillium here, and if you can get a picture backlit by the sun the colour is spectacular!

But it's the White Trillium we all wait for, Ontario's official flower, and a large showy bloom to boot.

In the woods behind the Old Baldy cliff is the best display of White Trillium that I know of; there are hundreds of flowers in among the trees and it's just beautiful to see!  Enjoy your walk in the woods!


Monday, May 9, 2022

Spring Wildflowers in the Woods

If there's a time of year when I miss being able to get out in the woods, it's the month of May.  This is the month when the 'spring ephemerals' bloom, those beautiful wildflowers that take advantage of about three weeks when it's warm enough for them to grow but the tree leaves aren't out yet.  Lots of light can get to the forest floor and these plants love it!

The forest floor is quite bare when the spring wildflowers first appear, and the canopy is still open, though the tree leaves are starting to unfold giving a green tinge as you look up.  It's a unique short period in the seasons of the year.

The Sharp-lobed Hepatica is usually the first of these woodland flowers to bloom around here.

Spring Beauty blooms shortly thereafter, along with several others.

Dutchman's Breeches is one of these early bloomers, the flower said to look like a Dutchman's breeches hanging on the clothsline.

Squirrel Corn has identical leaves, but quite different flowers.

One of the most unusual, and therefore one of my favourites, is the deep purple Blue Cohosh.  It grows so fast during the first warm days in May, literally 3-4" per day, that you can practically see it grow.  And no, I didn't arrange these in front of the boulder, they just grew that way!

And finally the widespread Trout Lily or Dogtooth Violet adds a splash of yellow with its flowers.

I point these out now because if you want to get out in the woods and see them, you need to go now.  By the time the Trillium are out in about two weeks, the first of these will have faded away.  They are 'ephemeral' indeed!  I'll follow up with a second post in a day or two.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Fox!

I'm glad to report that our resident fox is back.  Mrs. F.G. has spotted it more than once and this morning I saw it, first only partly visible below a rise, and then trotting across the golf course.  We're hoping it will keep the destructive little rabbits in check!  One is repeatedly trying to dig under our shed.

All of these pictures are heavily cropped, but I thought they came out pretty well regardless.  At least it does look like a fox.

The fox passed behind one of the big old Sugar Maples, in front of one of the golf greens, headed west.

It appeared to be hunting as it went, keeping its ears and eyes alert.

At least two of the neighbours report that they've seen kits, like last year.  Unfortunately those same two neighbours report seeing families of baby rabbits in their gardens too.

It turned around to sniff at something in the grass, but didn't appear to catch anything.

If I got a portrait of the fox, this would be it.  I cropped it as much as I felt I could, but even with the big camera it gets blurry.

Then it trotted on and disappeared into the small valley on the far side of my view.

I'm getting out for rides every day now, even though it's still a little cool for my built-in thermometer.  At least it's sunny and we have a week of sun and warm temperatures forecast.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

A Longer Wheelchair Ride

The other day it was warm enough that I bundled up and headed out for a ride here in town.  I went down Nelson St. West, a street I almost gave up on last year because of the 'alligator pavement' which gave me too much discomfort.  This year it wasn't bothering me so much, for whatever reason, so maybe I'll be able to ride down here more often.  Maybe I'm just learning to tune it out.

This house is just around the corner on Collingwood St., and this is the place that I got the idea of planting Daffodils out front at our place.  They just seem so incredibly welcoming for spring.

Starting down Nelson West I passed this house which sold last year.  It appears that the new owner has spent the past several months renovating the house and he's getting to the end of that stage.  It looks well done to me.  This is one of those five homes on the street over 100 years old built in the original gothic revival cottage style.

One of two old tractors on the street which are most visible in April, and probably haven't moved in more than a decade.

One of the other oldest homes, with another nice Daffodil display.

Where they cut down a huge old Sugar Maple last year I was astonished to find a large dense patch of Bloodroot, one of the earliest spring wildflowers in the woods.  The old maple must have cast enough shade to provide for good growing conditions.

And just around the corner at the end of the street, my favourite building on the entire ride, this small old barn.  It's about the size of my grandparents barn, but much better maintained.  Unusually it has an above-ground brick foundation.  Probably just the size for 3 or 4 horse stalls and storage for hay above, from the days a century ago when many still kept a horse or two for transportation.

Heading back home I stopped to get a photo of the small stream valley just before the corner.  And that was the end of my ride - just getting warmed up for summer!