Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall Flowers

It's mostly a sad time in the garden now, with plants started to fade and looking definitely bedraggled.  There are lots that are finished blooming that should really be removed.  But there are several bright sparks, flowers that are finally blooming now and saving the garden from looking totally like November!

There was an orange Crocosmia still blooming until a few days ago, much later than the red version.

The Butterfly Bush and its striking purple flowers, which grows like a weed in England, finally blooms in mid-Sept. to attract some butterflies.  I swear I briefly saw a Monarch here a few days ago.

We had one giant volunteer Sunflower come into bloom at the end of the summer, with lots of flowers on the huge stem, attracting lots of bees.

We've also got two Clematis plants that bloom now, small bright white blossoms.  I like this strand that was growing across the old rocks in the old stone fencerow.

Even the seedheads of the earlier blooming Clematis look intriguing still.

And finally one of the Sedums, which blooms bright pink here.  Only one or two more flowers to go and then the season will be over.  All is not lost in the garden yet, though it's a pale shadow of what it was two months ago.

While our wives headed out on an Art Tour all day, a friend and I made it up to Owen Sound to see the Chinook Salmon running.  Quite fascinating; pictures in a few days, including the 10 Vultures sitting in the trees waiting for dead salmon to be available for lunch!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morning Fog and Harvest Moon

Fall brings cool dewy mornings, and sometimes fog.  These pictures were taken about two weeks ago when we had a foggy morning, and I was paying attention unexpectedly early!

I looked out the back window, and saw fog in the distance, so I stepped out and got several pictures.  Either the fog filled in our meadow, or it showed up more in the sun as the sun rose, just out of sight in the southeast.  Then the sun warmed the air enough that the fog quickly vanished, but it seemed typical of these cool fall mornings.

The very same evening I got this picture of the Harvest Moon, glowing in the night sky.  Better than most of my moon shots, and heavily cropped, but a beautiful sight in the sky.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Hike

Another thing that marks fall for me is that all the Bruce Trail properties get inspected.  Once a year the volunteer Land Stewards fill out a report, to ensure that any problems get noted and dealt with.  I'm a volunteer for two properties, so each year I get out there and not only walk the trail, but wander elsewhere.

This property is partly White Pine plantation, about 30 years old.  We had it thinned 5 years ago, and some of the remaining pine are now looking like fairly large trees.

And the plantation area is looking a lot more like a mixed forest than just pines, which was in fact the purpose of the thinning.

In the deciduous part of the forest there is as yet very little fall colour, just a few branches here and there.

Sadly, most of the enormous old American Beech are now succumbing to another invasive blight, and dying off.  This one is nearly 3 feet in diameter.

It was the fungi that were the highlight of this walk, with lots of mushrooms, bracket fungi and other interesting species to see.  I've tried to use the 'Field Guide to Mushroom' to identify them, but with 700 pictures to compare, it seems hopeless to me unless there's a really clear distinguishing feature.

But this one was easy to identify; there's only one like it, the Bear's Head Tooth fungus.  First time I've ever see one.

I stepped across the road when I finished to say hello to a herd of grazing cattle.  This one was curious.
So were a few others.

But I guess they didn't like what they saw, 'cause the whole bunch of them turned and high-tailed it out of there!


Our first excursion with the new van, though short and simple, was a success.  We drove north 4 hours to a cottage west of Algonquin Park, and enjoyed a visit - but we slept in the new van.  The driving was comfortable, the electric systems, including the fridge, all worked well, and the sleeping was fine too.  We're slowly sorting out what will work best for longer trips.  Pix of the north woods in a few days.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Soybean Harvest

The soybean harvest, another sign of fall, is well underway.  I was lucky enough to catch a group of farmers taking the beans off two large cash crop fields up the road, and actually get a picture of the combine, with its 'beanhead' on it.  In fact this was a big enough operation that there were two combines, a tractor and wagon, and a big grain truck

Here comes one of the big combines down the field, accumulating the beans in the bin on the back.

The second combine comes up another row,

Lifts the header and turns abruptly to head back down the field.

Meanwhile, the tractor pulls the grain wagon over beside the big grain truck and empties its load, ready for another one.

It moves back and forth, filling one end of the truck.

 And on an earlier day it occurred to me that many of you have never seen soybeans up close, so here they are.

 Here's an individual soybean plant,

And a closer look at the rather hairy beans.

These are a few beans broken open for you to see.

And here are the beans.

At the same time the corn harvest has started.  I missed them on their lunch break, but this smaller corn harvester cleared the corn field pretty fast.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall in the Garden

There are lots of signs of fall around, and I'll have a number of them over the next week or two.  It's particularly the colder mornings, even though we're still having beautiful days.  With the moderate temperatures they're great days for working, and there seems to be a long list of things for me to work on!

The Japanese Anemone is the last pretty flower to bloom in the garden, with its round ball-shaped flower buds.  I always think it looks so delicate for a season that's pretty tough.

The Elephant Ears (named for its big leaves), one of the Ligularias, provides a bright spash of orangey-yellow for quite a few weeks at this time of year.  Unfortunately it spreads invasively and relentlessly; I took a number out this spring, and will do so again next year (and probably every year thereafter).

But it's got one of the most interesting assortments of pistils and stamens in the flower centre.  One of my favourite flowers for a close-up.

Speaking of close-ups, lots of Honey Bees have been buzzing around the Garlic Chives.  You can't guess how many shots it took to get this relatively clear one.

Along the fencerow, above the Hostas, the leaves of the Ash and Dogwood are starting to deteriorate, even though there isn't much colour yet.

If you can get the leaf to sit still in the sunshine, I always think that an extreme close-up is very interesting with the pattern of leaf cells, each a little factory churning out oxygen.

Wandering down the fencerow, I just happened to spot these clumps of fungi at the base of our old Apple tree.  I sure hope it doesn't mean the old tree is on its way out!

I hate destroying the mushroom to have a close look at the underside, so I left these alone.  And it's not easy to match pictures with all the varieties.  My closest guess is that these may be a version of Dryad's Saddle; if not they're very similar.

Finally figured out how the water was leaking from the waterfall I've been trying to construct.  There's still a lot of work to do, but with that figured out I'm hoping for faster progress in the coming weeks compared to the past 4 years!  And tomorrow we're off on our first little venture in the new-to-us old camping van.  We'll see how it works.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sailing, Scarecrows and Biking

I was in Meaford on Georgian Bay the other day, and had time before meeting a friend for a bike ride.  So I headed down to the harbour to see what I could see.

Obviously it's still summer, and the boats are still sitting by the docks, patiently waiting to be taken out on the bay.

For some reason sailors like the colour blue for more than the water.  Though sails are white, the canvas they wrap the furled up sails in seems to always be blue.

It was a weekday and only two boats were out, but it was a perfect sailing day, an almost cloudless sky and a good brisk breeze.

You can't walk away without noticing the clear water of the bay!  That's a big reason it's such a popular sailing area.

Meantime, downtown, the scarecrows have invaded in preparation for Meaford's Scarecrow Festival next weekend.

This guy was looking a little worn out.  The scarecrows hang around for a full month or so.

On this occasion my destination was a bike ride.  I finally got organized enough to get my bike on the car carrier and bring it up here to meet a friend for a short bike ride.  I was more wondering whether I could successfully transport it than whether I could ride!  (Meanwhile Mrs. F.G. was at the Quilt Guild meeting in town).

After my bout of serious illness 9 years ago now, I bought an electric bike.  I was never a great bike rider, but I rode to work for years, and really enjoyed it.  I wasn't about to give up biking yet!  So I loaded on the magic battery that gives me a boost when I need it, and off we went.

It worked out well.  The motor magically senses how hard you are pedalling and gives you just enough of a boost to make it seem like you're on the level.  Expensive at the time, but I've got a lot of enjoyment out of it.  And Meaford has some nice places to ride, so I was glad to try it out.