Flowery Prose

Growing words….


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Show and tell: Rose edition.

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Thursday morning found me up on Nose Hill again, where I discovered a large pocket of white wild roses.  Our two wild rose species, Rosa acicularis and Rosa woodsii, usually flower in various shades of pink, and I was delighted to come across white ones that were not simply pink blooms washed out by age or sunlight or drought.   Very pretty!

Other than a miniature rose with gorgeous pink blooms that my former landlady “lent” me about a decade ago, I don’t grow any roses at our apartment complex.  Fortunately, the mini hangs on from year to year with my minimal care - although it was touch and go this spring.  For awhile there, I actually feared it had finally been done in by the weather, but it surprised me with its perseverance.  Good thing, too, because my former landlady still lives in my building and she regularly checks on the plant (which was a gift from her granddaughter).   It’s just starting to put on flower buds now, much later than usual…but I’m just so relieved it’s still alive.  Here’s a photo from 2006, when it was fairly new to the garden. (I’m surprised to find that I don’t have any recent pics of it – I will rectify that once it blooms.  Of course, it’s not a whole lot larger now than it was back then!).

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Okay, it’s your turn to brag about your roses…let’s hear about the ones that are performing best in your garden this year, the ones that you love most, the ones you’re dreaming about!  Please feel free to put up a link to your blog in the comments if you want others to check out any posts you’ve made about your roses – I know I’d certainly be delighted to see them!  


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Alberta snapshot: Canola fields and sky.

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Photographed 7 July 2014, near Hanna, Alberta.

Even though canola fields in bloom are a common sight on the Prairies at this time of year, there’s no way I could ever grow tired of those brilliant swaths of yellow. I once had a summer job at the museum in Fort St. John, British Columbia, where I learned to work the till in the gift shop. With our location on the Alaska Highway, we were a popular spot for tourists to drop in for maps and other information, and I remember that the postcard I sold the most copies of featured a canola field under a stormy grey sky. “What are those beautiful yellow flowers?” was the third most popular question, behind “Do bears eat people?” and “Where is the washroom?”     :)

Is canola or rapeseed a common agricultural crop where you live?

What is canola?


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Alberta snapshot: Yellow lady’s slipper orchid.

 

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Yellow lady’s slipper orchid, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.  Photographed 27 June 2014.

I’m still trying to work out the specific epithet on this beauty: it appears that older literature lists it as Cypripedium calceolus (Eurasian yellow lady’s slipper), but there seems to be a more recent gravitation towards different names for the North American species (of which there are more than one). I’m going to go with C. parviflorum on this, but I’d definitely welcome more information.

No matter what the name, it’s definitely a treat to come across these lovely orchids in the wild!

What kinds of wild orchids grow where you live?


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Bugleweed. And “friends.”

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Some gardeners steer clear of plants like bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) - but in my case, ‘Black Scallop’ was the perfect choice for a large space that needed a pretty cover. And although it may appear that the bugleweed  is gunning for the lawn in this photo, rest assured it is actually the other way around and unfortunately presents clear photographic evidence of my faulty weeding practices.   Sigh…just keeping it real!   ;)

What are your favourite ground cover plants?  Which are big no-no’s?  Are there any that you particularly favour for difficult spots (ie: under trees, in shady locations etc.)?


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Interesting facts about dandelions.

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Dandelions, dandelions everywhere! The City has reduced its herbicide use over the past few years, which is a very good thing, but it means that the yellow and white is going strong. While the proliferation of dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) probably doesn’t impress our neighbours who own homes, living in an apartment has its perks: we don’t do our own lawn care so I can actually regard dandelions without disgust or despair.

Just for fun, I dug up some Interesting and Occasionally Contradictory Facts about Dandelions:

The name dandelion comes from the French “dent de lion” – lion’s tooth, which refers to the serrated leaves.
Taraxacum officinale is a perennial, but there are some dandelion species that are biennial.
Dandelion pollen cannot cause allergies – the grains are far too large to be bothersome, but you can get contact dermatitis from the milky sap (latex) that the plant contains.
Dandelions open in the daytime and close at night.
Dandelion seed can travel up to 8 kilometres (5 miles).
Dandelion flower heads can be used to make dye – oddly, in the purple colour range (unless you do not use a mordant, in which case it is yellow).
Dandelions have a taproot which can extend up to a whopping 4.5 metres (15 feet) underground, although you’ll typically find them top out at 45 cm (18″), which is still pretty long.
The taproot of dandelions is very useful to reduce compaction in garden soil.
Dandelions are dynamic accumulators – that means they can draw nutrients such as nitrogen from the soil and concentrate them in their leaves and roots.
The parts of the dandelion apparently represent the celestial bodies: the yellow flower head is the sun, the white seed head is the moon, and the seeds are the stars as they spread all over the galaxy (read: your lawn).
What we think of as the petals of a dandelion flower are actually individual flowers themselves. They will produce fruit called achenes, followed by the tiny, barbed brown seed and it’s accompanying “parachute” that helps it disperse in the wind.
Dandelion flowers do not need to be pollinated to form seed.
Dandelions likely originated in Eurasia 30 million years ago.
Dandelions are high in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Dandelions are known as ruderals or pioneer plants, the first to colonize disturbed land (such as after a wildfire).
Apparently dandelion latex has been historically used to treat warts, clear skin complexion, and heal blisters. (I don’t know how it can help the complexion when it also causes contact dermatitis, but…?). I read that there is some sort of idea to use it in the future to make rubber tires for automobiles – we’ll see how that turns out.
Dandelion roots can be used as a coffee substitute, much like chicory.
I had no idea, but dandelion roots can also be used to make beer – here is one recipe I found, which also uses burdock roots.

 

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I found this strange dandelion specimen this morning out on Nose Hill – it looks like it might be a type of fasciation.  The fifth flower head actually drove through the centre stem, which was massively enlarged and already sported four joined flower heads. 

Do you harvest dandelions for use?  Or are they the bane of your existence?


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The don’ts of bird photography.

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My hubby says these two are likely in the avian equivalent of the witness protection program. I’m thinking I need photography lessons or new eyeglasses or both. ;)

Hope you have a wonderful, sunshine-filled Tuesday!


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Baby jackrabbit.

We have an…erm…flourishing population of white-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii) around here this spring and with their clearly discerning tastes, they would far rather munch on the free buffets everyone’s gardens than the gazillion luscious dandelions popping out of the lawns.  The adult rabbits are big, too – much larger* than a housecat and many dog breeds, and they have this steely look in their eyes that suggests you don’t want to mess with them when they’re chowing down on your tulips.  They’re so used to people that they barely blink when you try to shoo them away – sometimes you really have to make a fuss to get them to run.

This little one is going to be a problem one day, but for now, he’s the cutest thing in the neighbourhood.  Our landlady hasn’t planted up the boxes in the doorway at the back of our building just yet, so he’s taken to snoozing in one, casually pretending that no one sees him when they enter and exit. I guess having his back to the bricks makes him feel very secure.  He certainly didn’t move a muscle when I took a photo over the stair rail a few evenings ago.   I just can’t get over how long his legs are compared to his body size – he’s going to be one huge bunny.

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*In Wayne Lynch’s article “More Than Fluff: The Curious Behaviours of Rabbits and Hares” in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Alberta Conservation, he writes that white-tailed jackrabbits can reach a hefty 3.5 kilograms.

Are rabbits a problem in your garden?  What have you done to try to deter them?

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