Thursday, September 19, 2013

Computer Failure!

Woke yesterday to find my computer would not turn on! Zilch, nothing, nillo. And that's the computer with all my recent photos and my photo editing software.

As well, Blogger no longer lets me 'Compose' a post. The cursor simply does not appear; I have to do this (on an older laptop) in HTML. I am determined to resolve this properly, and get a system for my photos with proper back-up in place. And a computer that is reliable. As for Blogger....!!

So I'll be absent for awhile until I get all this resolved. Maybe I'll be able to get some older photos off this I can post in the meantime. If not, I'll be back in a few days, a week, or longer.... Cheers!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mid-September Flowers - Part II

Having shared some favourite close-ups from the garden yesterday, I thought you deserved to see the whole plants, along with some other flowers still blooming in the garden - in spite of heavy frost last night.  Otherwise, it's certainly feeling like fall; all the squash vines are now wilted from the frost.

The first one is the Helenium, this one mostly yellow, but with flashes of orange and red.  It has stayed brightly in bloom now for nearly 3 weeks.

This is the bright yellow Ligularia.  You get the sense of the individual flowers being somewhat ragged in this picture.  It has spread over several years, so we now have quite of patch of this.

Our Buddleia, the Butterfly Bush, with a butterfly visiting - though it's a very ragged looking Fritillary at this time of year.

We have quite a few of these fall Anenomes, along with others that bloom in spring.

And of course there are the phlox - these are just one of several in the garden, ranging from bright red to white.  They contribute a lot by adding colour at this time of year.  Most of them were eaten off by the deer in the spring, but they have all recovered to bloom successfully.

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Today's Flowers

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mid-September Flowers - Part I

It's well into early fall, and we've had our first frost, along with some very cool wet weather.  Parts of the garden are looking bedraggled.  But there are still some great, bright flowers, attracting lots of bees and a few butterflies.  Here are a few in bloom in mid-September.

These first two are a Helenium, one of about 40 species, related to the asters.  I thought the late afternoon sun shining through this was amazing, highlighting the mixture of orange and yellow colours in the bloom.

The centre of the flower is just as amazing.  Some of this group are known as sneezeweeds, not because they make you sneeze, but because the dried leaves were formerly used in making snuff.

This large plant is Ligularia, with bright orange coloured flowers has very large leaves (one variety is known as 'Elephant Ears'), with something of a purplish colour to them.  The flowers look a little ragged to me, but when you look closely, it's very striking.  It spreads easily too, and there are numerous horticultural varieties.

These are the florets of a Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush, and it does attract butterflies, bees and other insects.  It's a large bush, well over 6 feet tall, but just makes it into bloom at the end of the summer.

And this last one is a deep brilliant orange Tithonia, adding another splash of bright colour to the garden in late summer.  Notice the spirals in the centre.  I'm trying to understand the Fibonacci numbers that many spirals in nature correspond to; if I figure it out I'll let you know.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Nice Clouds

A few nights ago we experienced some really interesting evening cloud formations.  When you get into photography very much, as well as concsiously watching the seasons change, you start noticing the sky, and I certainly noticed it this night. 

It was a really interesting cloud pattern, after a clear sunny day.  The clouds moved over quickly, eventually scattered across the entire sky, in wispy lines like these, all appearing to come from one direction out of the west.  Even my widest angle lens can only capture a small part of the sky.

All the clouds appeared to originate in the vicinity of the setting sun, and at this point the sun was below our horizon.  At first it really wasn't a colourful sunset, but it looked like it might become one, so I got my tripod and waited.

Soon the clouds did start turning slightly pink.  By this time, they covered the sky, and there was a little bit of colour everywhere, a weird experience of light, with it coming to you from all directions, like the atmosphere was saturated with it.

Then it did start to turn pink and orange.  This view is northwest, showing the pattern of clouds starting to move across the northern sky.  It was as if the clouds were exploding in slow motion in all directions from the point of the setting sun.

And this view is southwest, showing those clouds, which moved steadily into the southern sky.

It all finished up with a pretty respectable sunset, though this picture is only the core of it, where the sun had set half an hour previously.

This was partly a learning exercise for me, as I edited these to eliminate the roof-line of our house in a couple of the photos.  I think the best way to improve your photography is often to try something and learn by trial and error.  It worked this time.

Check out other views of the sky here:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September Sunlight

I was struck by the sun shining through brilliant yellow-green leaves the other day when I went for a walk down by the Beaver River.  Even in mid-afternoon by mid-September, the shadows are long and the sun is slanting down from the west.  The result was these beautiful leaves, glowing green in the sun.

The first I came across were these milkweed leaves.  Simple common plant, but the leaves seen against the sunlight are striking, especially as they start turning a little yellow in September.

The leaves of Elecampane are huge.  I posted pictures of the yellow flowers of this plant, which likes low wetter places, a few weeks ago - click here to see them.  They tend to grow in large patches, and are looking rather tattered at this time of year.  But very obvious because they are so large.

And of course the Sugar Maple, caught at the right angle.  In three or four weeks these will be bright orange or red.  In the meantime they're a striking green.

Elm leaves start to look a little tattered by September too, and both the large teeth around the edge and the straight veins out to the edge are very obvious.  The afternoon sun shining through them just lights them up!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Hay and Cattle Country Too!

Grey County is also the number one producer of hay in Ontario, and the number two for cattle, primarily beef cattle.  So as you drive around the landscape you see a lot of hayfields and pastures, with a variety of breeds of beef cattle munching away.

The last of the hay is being gathered in.  I've watched this field over the summer, and this is the 3rd cut of hay the farmer is getting - mostly alfalfa at the end of the season rather than grasses.  But a 3rd cut is unusual around here, made possible by the summer's continuing cool weather with plentiful rain.

This I think is a second cut, and the farmer is nearly finished cutting the hay, hoping for the hot weather of the last two days so it can dry in the sun a bit I expect.
This herd of black Aberdeen Angus is just down the road from us, and they all stopped for about 5 seconds to look at me, then went on munching!

And down the other road is a herd of Charolais, on the crest of a hill a little ways off when I took this picture.  All part of the farming landscape of Grey County.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seasons on Grey County Farms

Much of the landscape around the Beaver Valley consists of farm fields, and there are definite signs of the season changing on the farms.  The grain harvest of wheat, mixed grain and barley is almost complete now; all that's left in the way of crops is the corn and soybeans.  These are actually the largest two crops in Grey County by acreage, apart from hay which dominates it all.

Corn is probably the most important cash crop, as well as important cattle feed, as Grey County has a lot of cattle farms.  In this field the farmer has chosen to plant a border of barley, which will make it easier to access the rows of corn with the combine when the time comes.

We tend to forget that corn, like all other plants, has flowers.  The tassels at the top are simply the male flowers, generating the pollen.

And the female flowers become the corn cobs once every kernel is fertilized by pollen from the corn tassels. A lot of pollen has to connect to generate a field of ripe corn!

And this year there's been more corn planted than usual, because of the high price.  And growth has been good over the summer with lots of rain.  In fact my grass, which usually turns brown by late July, is still fully green and growing!  A lot of farmers will be watching the price and hoping for a bumper crop.

The soybeans are turning too.  These are an oilseed crop, and they turn from green to yellow to orangy-brown as they ripen, ready for harvest.  Most fields are still half green, but the turning colour of the soybeans is one sign of early fall around here.

And on the slopes where moisture or nutrient stress might be a little higher, the colour has turned further, leaving it about the brightest colour in the landscape at the moment.  Tomorrow - the final hay harvest.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Seasonal Macro Shots

The changing of the seasons in on my mind.  Nights are cooler and come sooner.  Morning and afternoon shadows are longer.  Corn and soybeans are ripening in the fields.  The leaves have started changing colour.  I need warmer clothes, especially in the morning walking the dog.  With September's arrival, it's early fall for me; here are a few of the signs.

I spotted this late season Evening Primrose in the meadow, lit up in pale yellow by the early morning sun, nearly 5 feet high.

The Dogwood and Virginia Creeper leaves have already changed to deep red - this one shown off by the sun shining through it.

We get more dark rainy mornings, leaving water droplets clinging to the surface of some plants, like these day lily leaves.

The late-season butterflies appear.  This is a new one for me, an Eastern Comma.

And the asters are in bloom across the meadows.  This New England Aster flower is a bit of a weird double bloom, but pretty never-the-less.

More signs of the seasons to come. 

And thanks for all the visits to, and positive comments about my last series of posts on the local Bruce Trail Club's 50th Anniversary and my favourite walks along the trail.  The anniversary celebration was great, and I enjoyed writing a series expanding on a single topic, so I'm pondering similar things I could write in the future.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

'Old Baldy'

Undoubtedly the most popular hike on the Bruce Trail in the Beaver Valley is the walk out to the stunning cliffs of 'Old Baldy'.  It's not a long walk, but the view is spectacular.  It's become something of a tradition for many families around here to do the walk on Thanksgiving weekend, when fall colours are at their peak.  You can easily see 40-50 cars in the parking lot or along the road at any one time on that weekend.  It's worth the walk!

These are the cliffs from across the valley, in October.  The cliff is a 'bioherm', essentially a 400 million year old coral reef, where the Amabel Formation rises in a dome, and the Queenston Shale lower down erodes into a steep slope.  The Bruce Trail follows the edge of the cliff through the picture.

Once you get there, the view is spectacular, this picture looking south from atop the cliffs, down into the narrower part of the valley.  The area of open slope in the distant right is the Beaver Valley Ski Club.

The view north, or at least north-west, shows the slopes of the former Talisman Ski Resort, as well as the village of Kimberley in the bottom of the valley, on the left side of the photo.  This photo is two years old; the ski slopes are abandoned and looking overgrown now.  The Bruce Trail follows both sides of the valley here, heading south from Old Baldy into the narrowest part of the valley, and then turning north again up the west side, along the rim of the valley in this photo.
Old Baldy is also a popular rock climbing spot, though a challenging one.  One day while I was taking a photograph this climber appeared around the side of the cliff, hanging there what looked like 100 feet in the air.  A few minutes later he was safely on top.

But the views from the cliff are just the most obvious part of Old Baldy.  There is now a loop trail back through the forest, the Mac Kirk Side Trail, which is a wonderful walk at any time of year.  It's a particularly great place to see spring wildflowers around  here.

This view of the woods is taken in early spring, in mid-May, when the Ostrich Ferns are just unfolding.  The leaves on the trees aren't out much yet, and there's plenty of sunlight on the forest floor.  That's when the best showing of spring wildflowers occurs.

These are Dog-Tooth Violets or Trout Lilies, just one of over 25 species we saw last spring on our wildflower walk.
Just as many love a walk out to Old Baldy when the fall colours turn the valley red, orange and yellow, I love the walk in the spring - when the trilliums carpet the ground.

Hope you enjoyed my four favourite walks on the trail.  Tonight is the grand celebration of the 50th Anniversary; I'll be back here on Monday.