The monoliths of artist Beverly Pepper’s Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels are an impressive feature of Ralph Klein Park in Calgary. You can read more about Pepper’s work here. I took this photo on a stormy, sticky-hot and mosquito-heavy August morning last year – as we walked in the park, we saw a small funnel cloud in the distance, far to the east and travelling away from us.
Ralph Klein Park is actually pretty impressive all-around. Named after the province’s colourful former premier (d. 2013), the park is part of the massive Shepard Wetland: the largest constructed stormwater treatment wetland in the entire country. The wetland is 160 hectares in size and can hold up to 6 million cubic metres of stormwater, if necessary. (You can read more about it here). The park also contains a public community orchard and the incredibly beautiful LEED Gold-certified Environmental Education and Ethics Centre, which rises above the water on stilts and has accessible catwalks and decks for visitors to wander. (It’s also home to artwork from Peter von Tiesenhausen and shows off attractive and useful gabion walls, inside and out). All this…and it’s home to a huge variety of bird species!
Yet another week of not-spring has gone by…but I’m feeling optimistic. Looking very forward to sunshine-filled summer hiking trips and a possible sighting of this fascinating Alberta wildflower, striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata). To find out why this plant isn’t green, check out a previous post I did about coralroots way back in 2013.
Enjoy your weekend! What projects are you working on (gardening or otherwise)?
Over the Family Day long weekend (February 17-20), Calgary held its inaugural Glow Festival downtown. For four evenings, you could walk around a course of a few city blocks and enjoy various light sculptures and art pieces. Some of them, like The Door (artist Paul Magnuson) were interactive: you opened up a door that sat in the middle of the sidewalk, to be greeted with a blast of visual and sound effects that changed each time the door was reopened. Some were cute inflatable bunnies (Nibbles, a series by artist Amanda Parer):
And my very favourite was an amazing lighted sculpture made by Jeremy Tsang, called Chopsticks=Chandelier. This stunning piece was made completely of clear chopsticks and chopstick rests and was lit both within (by a rope light) and from without, by flood lights. According to the Glow brochure, “This work explores the Chinese culture and the migrant workers that build the Canadian Pacific Railway, while celebrating the Centennial Year in the winter season through a visually stunning outdoor chandelier sculpture.” Absolutely beautiful, creative work.
And I do mean FLOWERY! I was digging through my photo files a couple of days ago, when I came across this shot of one of the large perennial beds at the Silver Springs Botanical Garden here in Calgary, photographed on a trip I took out there in July of last year. A sight for winter-weary eyes, that’s for sure!
Today’s flower is an interesting one (and a native, to boot!) – woolly gromwell (Lithospermum ruderale). According to Plants of Alberta (France Rover, Richard Dickinson), there are only thirty species of the Borage family growing wild in Alberta, of which this is one. In early summer, the west slopes of Nose Hill here in Calgary are dotted with these strange spiky-leaved plants, in full bloom.
What ruderal plants are common where you live? I always think of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium, syn. Chamerion angustifolium) – in mid-summer, it is simply spectacular in roadside ditches and in mountain meadows.
Yes, it’s not a plant most people are fond of here; there’s a very good reason quite a few species are on our province’s invasive plants list. But I have a fascination with thistles – there’s all that geometry and architecture about them, especially when they’re not in full flower – so when I found this specimen in an overgrown back alley a block from my home in early July of last year, I was keen to get some photos of it. This isn’t the ubiquitous Canada thistle (Circsium arvense) – rather, I think it is Carduus nutans, nodding thistle, sometimes called musk thistle.
Of course, while I was hunkered down on the ground with my camera, busily snapping away, a city bylaw officer drove into the alley to investigate. What he thought of my antics, I’ll never know, as he (thankfully!) didn’t stop the car to talk to me…but I do know that less than a week later, that alley was sprayed very thoroughly with weed killer.