Deluge.

I’m not thinking about gardening right now.

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It’s the first day of summer and I should be happy.  (After all, winter was obscenely long, and spring was just plain weird…).

Unfortunately, the city of Calgary and about 20 outlying communities are under a state of emergency right now due to massive flooding – the kind of flooding that hasn’t happened in nearly a century, if ever.  Two rivers – the Bow and the Elbow – flow through Calgary and pretty much all of the downtown core and any neighbourhoods near the banks are completely underwater. Up to 100,000 people have been evacuated in Calgary alone.  Thankfully, the neighbourhood where my hubby and I live is on high ground, distant from the rivers.  But the destruction is difficult to fathom, and it’s even worse outside of the city.  I can’t believe the videos and photos I’ve seen on the ‘net from towns such as High River, Canmore, and Bragg Creek – they’re incredible and heartbreaking.   The stories of loss and all of the amazing acts of kindness and generosity are overwhelming.

And it’s still raining in some of the affected areas. 

I just hope everyone in the flood zones will be safe, and that we can all pitch in to lend a hand wherever needed!

I sure hope you’re having a better solstice than we are in southern Alberta!   What are your plans (gardening or otherwise) for the weekend? 

UPDATE (as of 23 June 2013) – More links:

As the sun starts to emerge on the city of Calgary (The Road Trip Hound)

Judgement (one + one stones)

Calgary’s state of emergency (Biggest Ball of String)

Witnessing a flood disaster (Time with Thea)

Blue sky over Calgary Alberta (jmeyersforeman photography)

Ha Ling Peak and roseroot.

In early July, my hubby and I hiked up the south face of Ha Ling Peak, a popular trek in Canmore, Alberta (located about 105 km west of Calgary).  You can climb the peak on the north side, but we’re hardly that intrepid!  🙂  As it was, the elevation gain of 700 m was plenty enough for an utter lazy bones like me to tackle, and the multiple stops for water and to catch my breath afforded me the chance to do some wildflower hunting.  Near the summit, growing in the gravelly scree and heavy rocks at almost 2,407 m, we spotted this gem, Sedum rosea (aka Tolmachevia integrifolia):

According to the resource Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies by George W. Scotter and Halle Flygare (reprint 2000, Alpine Book Peddlers, Canmore), this perennial is commonly called roseroot – not to be confused with Rhodiola rosea, another roseroot of northern climes that is purported to have all sorts of medicinal benefits.  (Of course, it just so happens the two plants are very closely related, and Sedum rosea is/was also known as Rhodiola integrifolia.  Having fun yet?)    Another common name for Sedum rosea is king’s crown – but it isn’t the same plant as the lovely tropical Justica carnea, which has the same moniker.  Ugh!  Plant names!

Although the plants we saw possessed only clusters of bright red flowers, the male flowers can be either yellow or red, while the females are always red.  Both male and female flowers may be present in each cluster.  The plants are small, befitting their alpine setting – the ones we saw were no taller than 10 cm.  The succulent leaves are apparently tasty in salads when young, although given that Scott and Flygare list the plant as “rare,” I wouldn’t want to dine on them.  (I’m not certain if the plant is rare only in this part of the world, as a site I found out of the States designates them “common”).

And, yes, we did make it to the top of Ha Ling Peak – here are a couple of shots of the incredible view: