Tuesday, June 30, 2020


When I head out onto the deck with my morning coffee I am greeted by the bright smiles of the Marigolds (and some Petunias) in our planter boxes.  These have been wildly successful, and are still giving us a regular haul of fresh veggies too.  Today we'll have Zucchini fritters made with our own Zucchini!  But the Marigolds take first prize!

I guess it's largely my own love of bright colours that appeals here, but the varied combinations of the Marigolds, from red through orange to yellow certainly help.

Red and mixed red with yellow.

Mostly in-between or orange.

Completely yellow.

Orange petals with a yellow centre.

No matter what combination, the Marigolds are a bright splash of colour on our deck, and they'll go on like this for months to come.

 They've even become the flower of choice for the four little vases on our kitchen island.  Yes, that's the breadmaker behind them; we haven't eaten store-bought bread for some months now.

Last night the power went off for 3 hours mysteriously.  We later heard it was a fire.  Now that we're so addicted to our ipads and Netflix, it really throws you when you're left bereft.  We went out on the deck and just enjoyed the quiet evening, the sun shining across the golf course throwing every hollow into shade.  

Luckily we're now all set up with the generator, so Mrs. F.G., with the help of a neighbour, was able to get it going, and with power restored I was able to get into bed.  Both the ceiling lift and the mattress depend on hydro.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Wild Chervil and Garlic Mustard

Just around the block where a small stream flows through an urban valley I've been disturbed to find vibrant populations of both Garlic Mustard and Wild Chervil, two of the worst invasive species here in Grey County. 

Wild Chervil has infested hayfields and fencerows around crop fields thanks to its millions of seeds that distribute easily.  This is a bit of the large patch around the block.  As you can see it squeezes out any other plants.

Wild Chervil is a fast growing biennial that forms dense mats of fern-like leaves in the first year and flowers in the second year.  It is hard to control because of its deep tap root and herbicide resistance.

The flower is similar to Queen Anne's Lace, but the small groups of florets are separated out rather than continuous.  If you remember that it's fairly easy to identify.

Compare it to Queen Anne's Lace with its much more continuous pattern of white florets.  By the way, do you know which Queen Anne this is named after?

And if you find a yellow version run the other way quick!  This is Wild Parsnip and the sap of this plant can burn your skin.  That's described as 'phytophotodermititis' if you want a big fancy name for it - phyto for plant, photo for exposure to the sun, and dermititis for your skin, and it can produce a nasty itchy rash.

Garlic Mustard is a nondescript weed with small white flowers that also generates millions of seeds.  The main problem with this species is that it grows in the shade of deciduous forests where many of our most beloved spring wildflowers are found.

The leaves are easy to identify, heart-shaped with prominent teeth around the edge.  It's a biennial too, that generates millions of seeds that can live for 30 years in the soil.  Our local Bruce Trail Club has been running workshops to pull the flowers before they set seeds and has had some success controlling it.

It has spread in a large patch along both sides of the stream in this little valley, squeezing out any other plants.  Who knows what it's going to look like next year!

P.S. I controlled myself to only eating only two of those strawberries I showed yesterday - and didn't pick out the biggest two either.  But we had a delicious bowl of them last night!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sandhill Cranes and Strawberry Jam

After first spotting the two Sandhill Cranes we turned into the next farm lane and drove back to see them.  As I said yesterday, we both enjoy watching for them and it's a highlight of the summer if we do spot them.

This was our view of them when we stopped, not very close.  But I zoomed in as far as my iphone would allow and got two good pictures.

One of the largest birds in North America (with a greater wingspan than a Golden Eagle), at this time of year you see them steadily grazing across fields picking up what they can find off the ground.

As the two birds kept moving they disappeared over the crest of the hill, but we chased them down by driving in the farm lane.  They were easily visible over the short soybeans.  We've always seen them in pairs (except for the giant 2000 strong migrating flocks we saw east of Stayner last November).

They nest in isolated wetlands usually, usually only raising one chick.  One year we saw a pair with a tiny chick.  They are known for their fantastic dancing displays during courtship, and for their strange 'bugling' call.  Once you've heard it you'll always recognize it.

As if seeing the cranes was not enough we also drove to Goldsmith's Farm Market in Thornbury and picked up a flat of strawberries.  On Friday my job was to prepare the berries.

And on Saturday Mrs. F.G. made the jam!!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

First Physio in Three Months

On Thursday we went back to physio in Owen Sound for the first time in three months.  Was I feeling it the next day!  I knew I had stiffened up during the lockdown, and developed a slouch to one side, but I didn't realize how much!  She gave me a number of specific exercises to get my muscles moving again, which I'm doing religiously.

The drive was like seeing old friends again, places along the road which stood out in my mind for some reason.  Here we're just going down into the valley before Woodford.

The Bruce Trail crosses here and I've hiked both north and south.  Hidden in the woods over there to the right is a secret waterfall that only flows in spring when the runoff is high.

Here's a sneak look at that ephemeral waterfall.

A little further on we dip down into the broad valley of Keefer Creek.  Here also there is a seldom visited waterfall hidden downstream.

And here's a look at Keefer Falls, hidden back in the woods off an unused sideroad.

We passed the airport, the runway disappearing into the distance.  We enjoyed Canada Day lunch there last year, watching planes come and go.

After physio, coming out of Owen Sound we drove up over the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment just east of town - another place I've hiked.

We decided to take the back roads home, and drove south off the highway to come across a county road.  Lots of barns and cattle, here a herd of Aberdeen Angus.  Notice the barn quilt?

And in one field we saw them - two Sandhill Cranes.  This is the road where we watch for them, and have seen several before, though not at this exact location.  They've long since spread out from their big migrating flock to spend the summer as individual pairs, often grazing in farm fields.  They're not eating the soybeans, they're picking bugs and leftover grain off the ground, and they just walk steadily across the field foraging.  Sandhill Cranes mate for life and stay together all year.  It's a highlight of our summer when we see a pair.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Pink and Purple

I'm amazed these days at how quickly plants are coming into flower!  The season just keeps unfolding, all too fast.  In the last few days both our Pinks and ur bush clematis have flowered.  The pinks are right below my window and the clematis sits beside me - up on a small table because a chipmunk was coming onto the deck and targeting it to dig in, scattering dirt all around.

Mrs. F.G. took at leadt half these phots, including the last three.

This is the patch of Pinks just below my window.  Can you see what's blocking my view of them?  Yes, it's a Milkweed.  We have five of them which we'll be watching closely for Monarch eggs.

As usual, I'm attracted by the bright pink colours.

Mrs. F.G. brought in a few blooms to go with the white Petunias on the island, right in front of my breakfast spot.  We have some tiny little vases to put them in, so they don't block my view of the sink and the dishes to be done!

I managed one good close-up.

Outside our bush Clematis has burst into great purple flowers.  More than a dozen blooms unfolded, all in about three days.

The individual flowers are beautiful if you take a close look.  We have six other vine Clematis we're waiting for.

We had a wonderful long rainy day yesterday, very welcome indeed after about three weeks of heat and sun with no rain.  There were a few rolls of thunder and heavy rainfall, but it was mostly gentle rain that went on for five hours.  Wonderful for the garden.  In the evening a young skunk and two young rabbits were foraging in the yard.  Mrs. F.G. will have a wildlife problem if they start nibbling her plants!

A cold front followed the storm and this morning the temperature has dropped about ten degrees.  With a strong wind outside it's really quite chilly. I can't remember seeing the clouds blowing across the sky so fast.  The sun shines for a few seconds through a clear patch and then the shadows of the clouds return.  I'll wait for warmer temperatures this afternoon before I go out, and hopefully the wind will have died down.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Garden Report

It has just started raining about 30 minutes ago.  A very welcome rain!  Our tiny garden is already exploding with growth from the warm temperatures we've had recently.  This rain will really help. 

It's so dense and diverse it floors me.

This planter looks more like a flower garden than a veggie garden.  It's got Petunias and Marigolds, with Nasturtiums and Zinnias coming along.  It sure makes the planter look colourful!

The planter I sit beside with my morning coffee looks much more like a veggie garden, thanks to the dominant leaves of the summer squash and the beans.  But buried in among those are 6 different herbs, as well as onions, radishes, beets, lettuce and carrots.

A third planter with two of our big tomatoes in pots.

This pot is full of Lavender, which needs dry gravelly soil, so doesn't do well in the good soil of the planters.  It's about to burst into bloom too.

Beet greens, just one of the crops we're already eating, along with the lettuce, onions,parsely and chives.  The beets themselves won't be ready until later of course.  It's amazing how much you can get out of 4 planters like these.  We're having our own salads every day.

The tomatoes have just got their first blooms, promising great eating later in the season.

This flower was a surprise to us, a plant that Mrs. F.G. got last year at a local plant sale.  We weren't sure what it would look like.  It's widely considered an invasive species if it gets out of gardens into natural wetlands.  I don't think that will be an issue here.

We discovered evidence of leaf cutter bees this morning, bees that are very beneficial as pollinators.  I'm now reading about them.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Flowers of the Field

Welcome to Summer!.  Right on time those flowers of the field or meadow (what many people call 'weeds'), have started to bloom.  Some of my favourite things to watch for over the next few months.

The Buttercups beat the solstice by a few days, but now there are lots.

 Dame's Rocket is out in the ditches, a flower I loosely called Phlox until recently.  It's actually easy to tell them apart.  Dame's Rocket has 4 petals as in this picture.  Phlox has 5.

Bright yellow Bird's-foot Trefoil has started to bloom; soon it will be all along the infrequently mowed boulevards.  If I remember when it goes to seed I'll show you why it's labelled 'Bird's-foot'.

The deep purple Tufted Vetch has shown up in the tiny little patch of meadow I stop at.  Not many bits of meadow left here in town.

Red Clover, used both for its nitrogen-fixing and as an alternative medicine.

I missed the bright yellow flowers of the Yellow Goat's Beard, but these are the seed heads, like giant Dandelions.  The three green trumpet-like structures are closed flowers.  Goat's Beard is 'heliotropic', meaning the flower turns toward the sun.  In my experience they also open early in the morning and are mostly closed like this by noon.  I never see them because I go for my rides after lunch.

And in a look forward to the coming weeks, the Milkweed flower bud clusters are developing.

Even this grass is in bloom.  Grass 'flowers' are wind-pollinated, so they don't have to be showy to attract insects.  At first glance they hardly look different from the grass seedhead the rest of the summer, and they are very fleeting, lasting only a few days.  But those are the light-coloured stamens hanging loose and blowing in the wind.  This is Orchard Grass, one of our most common.

We've had a run of hot sunny days and I actually got a little sunburn yesterday after sitting out in the sun on Friday and going for a long ride yesterday.  Now I'm just well-started on my summer tan!  Mrs. F.G. has been busy watering the garden as we haven't had a good rain for 10 days.