Saturday, June 29, 2019


Two plants in our garden got here by hitch-hiking, some white Columbine and some tiny Herb-Robert.  They both travelled as seeds, buried in the soil we dug up with our Hostas when we moved.  We transplanted a LOT of Hostas, though still a tiny fraction of what we had.

Now we have 5 or 6 patches of Columbine growing right up through the Hostas, adding some nice blooms where our garden is mostly green.

The Columbine bloom is very pretty, and this picture shows both the front and back of the flower, including those 'tails' on the back.  You can also glimpse a bit of a pink Herb-Robert petal.

A bigger view of the garden where the first Columbines came up.

Herb-Robert is a tiny little native wildflower, a member of the Geranium family.  It's a rather scraggly plant, and some even consider it a weed or an invasive species.  It grows in shade on the limestone rocks, and I always think it provides a pretty splash of colour.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fish fry

Last Saturday we went to a fish fry in Thornbury, a big fund-raising event for one of the churches there.  They feed 600 people over 3 hours, and they saved a disabled parking spot for us right up front!  The fish was delicious, Lake Erie Pickerel I think.  Sorry, no pictures of that, but we did drop down to the harbour for an hour's dawdling walk afterwards.

The Thornbury harbour is nice to visit because it has a pathway around the bay and river sides, opposite the protected harbour where the sailboats are.  On the bay side these large boulders protect the area from occasional storms.

Did you spot the two kayakers in the first photo above?

Looking east, a photo I've taken several times, you see the ski runs of Blue Mountain.  But can you spot the lighthouse?

Probably not.  It's very tiny even when I use the zoom.  The Nottawasaga Lighthouse sits on an island off the Town of Collingwood.

We were surprised there was only one sailboat out on a beautiful evening with a light breeze.

But there were plenty of fishermen lining the bank of the river.  No-one was catching anything until this fellow caught a big one that bent his rod almost into a half-circle.  You're right, it was one of those rare species, a river log.

Lots of sailboats waiting for their owners across the road in the marina.

Then we headed the opposite direction, out to the Harbourmaster's office, and up on the short breakwater that protects the harbour's entrance.  This Song Sparrow sat there on the wind tattered branches staring at me long enough for a picture.

I'll end with another rare portrait of yours truly, looking a little shaggy these days, but you may notice that I sit up straighter in the chair, as what remaining trunk muscles I have are getting stronger.  Not so much of a bobblehead any more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dame's Rocket and Wild Chervil

There are two plants that are widely in bloom here now, often seen along the roadside, in ditches, or along fencerows.  Dame's Rocket is commonly mis-identified as Phlox, while Wild Chervil, Anthriscus sylvestris, is a spreading invasive plant here in Grey County, with some similar but poisonous plants to watch out for.  In fact we seem to be the heart of its population in Ontario.

Here they are together, on the shore of the bay, just a short distance from the Garden-by-the-Bay.

These photos provide a close look at a Wild Chervil flowerhead, with a flowerhead that has gone to seed.  They generate thousands of seeds, which is how they spread.  The 'flowers' are the tiny white blossoms or florets that have five almost microscopic petals.  Dozens of these tiny flowers are held in an umbrella-shaped cluster.

The problem with Wild Chervil is that it spreads so readily, as it has all along the shoreline trail where we walked a few days ago.  We see patches of it all over the place.

Poisonous Plants??

Another reason for writing this post is that there are some very similar plants, also in bloom at this time of year, that are poisonous - in the case of Water Hemlock, deadly poisonous.  Casually picking a plant like this might easily lead to skin burns or worse if you are not sure of the species.  Here's a list to watch out for:

Giant Hogweed, Heraculem mantegazzium - similar, but huge, up to 5 metres tall and flowers the size of dinner plates.
Wild Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa - also similar, but yellowy flowerheads.
Both of these species are poisonous to the touch.  If your skin is later exposed to sunlight, you will get a nasty burn.  Touching your eyes in this circumstances has been known to cause blindness.
Water Hemlock, Cicuta maculata - loosely similar, known as the most toxic plant in North America.
This plant, if eaten (by cows or humans), is almost always fatal, and the poison acts very quickly.

Sorry I don't have pictures, but my message is, don't touch a plant like this unless you can positively identify it, and don't in any circumstances eat either the roots or leaves.

Here is more Wild Chervil, with Dame's Rocket in the background, both growing just down at the end of the street.

There's no poison associated with Dame's rocket, and it really looks rather pretty, especially when mixed in with Buttercups.  But it does get confused with your garden variety Phlox.

Here's a close look that easily shows the four petals of Dam's rocket, so if you're confused, just take a close look.

And this is a nice garden Phlox, blooming in the gardens of Parkwood Hospital, which I photographed last summer.  If you look closely you'll see the flowers have 5 petals, not 4.  There's also a seasonal difference in blooming.  Dame's Rocket is in bloom now, while Phlox doesn't usually bloom until August.

We don't think of Dame's rocket as invasive here, but across the prairies, from Wisconsin to southern Alberta, it is a seriously troublesome invasive species.

Monday, June 24, 2019

By the Bay

From the photos I've shared of the 'Garden-by-the-Bay', you'd almost forget that it was 'by the bay'.  So 100 yards further down the trail, here is the view out to the bay.

Georgian Bay in the distance.

Looking across to Balmy Beach.  We're actually looking across the 'sound' in Owen Sound, a long narrow deep bay off Georgian Bay.

Quite a different view of both the grain elevators and the cement elevator.

I've never noticed the little lighthouse before, but you can see it clearly from this angle.

Beside the water is this unique picnic shelter, another project of the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer.  A community-minded group of citizens, they have spear-headed several community projects around town.

Another view of the huge grain elevators as we headed back to the car.

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Back to the Garden-by-the-Bay with a few more flower pictures today.  You'll understand how refreshing it was to find this now that we don't have a large flower garden ourselves.

A single beautiful line of Bleeding Hearts.

 I was really astonished that my iPhone could take a close-up of this Iris like this.

A very pretty blue-flowered plant that we didn't recognize.  Any gardeners out there know it?

Yellow Flag.

A very unusual double-flowered Columbine.

And how's this for a beautiful white Lilac still in full bloom!

There was a handy-dandy sign which provided some background on the garden - the blogger's friend for posts like this.   It told me that this was the Millennium Project for the Garden Club of Owen Sound back in 2000.  And if you read the details it would tell you that after volunteers had planted the garden the city found the soil in the area was contaminated.  The volunteers had to dig everything up again, pot all the plants, and replant the next year after all the soil was replaced.  In spite of the frustration they must have felt, we were very impressed, both with the garden and the maintenance today.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Squirrel Family

I interrupt our visit to the Garden-on-the-Bay to share a few pictures of our squirrel family.  Suddenly, a week ago, three young squirrels appeared out back.  Raised in a nest high in the tree, they came cautiously down, and slowly got more and more rambunctious, though never straying more than a few feet from the tree.  They are noticeably only half the size of the mature squirrels we see regularly.

At first two black ones appeared,

but they were soon joined by a similar sized grey one.

They were soon chasing each other around the tree trunks, and then dissolving into a tumbling circle of three young squirrels.

I managed to catch an 8 sewcond video, but it captures the short wrestling match well I think.

Although these are all Eastern Grey Squirrels, a grey can mate with a black, and depending on the DNA, have young of both colouirs.  The black is a colour phase of the Grey Squirrel species.

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Serendipitous Garden Find

After my physio in Owen Sound this morning, we picked up our usual healthy lunch of burgers, fries, onion rings and root beer, and headed down to the bay to find nicer spot to sit and eat it than the parking lot of A&W.  (At least it was a small fries, onion rings and pop!)  We ended up in the parking lot of the Bayshore Centre, looking out over the blue waters of the sound.

We had a beautiful garden at our former house, as you'll know if you've followed this blog for a few years,  We moved to get away from the upkeep, but what we found here gives me a garden to visit where I can get pictures.

Right outside the car was an enticing trail, and it was even paved.  It actually runs out of town and becomes the Grey County CP Rail Trail, but we didn't go that far because we got distracted by the garden we found.

We headed down the trail and suddenly found ourselves beside a nice garden - the garden had paved pathways too!  What a nice bit of serendipity!  So we spent a fair while enjoying the garden.

Here are those nice glowing poppies, on fire in the sun.

 There were several beautiful Iris.

 Slightly more purple than blue.

 We actually did not know these pretty blue bells, but they were very pretty.

The Lady's Mantle weren't in bloom yet, but their leaves catch and hold rain drops beautifully.

Bachelor Buttons - I love the details of the flowers.   A few more flowers tomorrow.  You can be sure we'll be going back here!