Alberta snapshot: Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels.

RKPFPNormandeau

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!

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Alberta Snapshot: Nature Preserve at Carseland.

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This absolutely incredible view is from the top of the Bow River escarpment at the Agrium Nodwell Nature Preserve near Wyndham-Carseland Provincial Park in southern Alberta (photo taken in late September).  The Preserve was created in 2008 and is comprised of 59 acres of prairie grassland and riparian areas.  Best of all, it is fully accessible to the public – foot traffic only, of course!

The Preserve is home to 300 different species of native plants.  I’m eager to do some more exploring when the wildflowers are in bloom. An amazing place!

If autumn is in full swing where you are, where do you like to go to take in the spectacular colours?  If it’s spring where you live, what favourite flowers are blooming right now?

Cicer milkvetch seed pods.

I am fascinated by the black mature seed pods of Cicer milkvetch (syn. chickpea milkvetch, Astralagus cicer), an aggressively-spreading legume that was originally introduced to North America from Europe with the idea that it would serve as a good foraging and hay crop.  Cicer milkvetch is now naturalizing in many areas, and while the plant doesn’t have a provincial designation as of yet in the Alberta Weed Control Act, it is listed as one to watch on the Alberta Invasive Plant Council’s website (check out the fact sheet for cicer milkvetch here).   The black seed pods rattle loudly when you shake them, and supposedly contain large orange seeds (although I haven’t opened up any cases to confirm).   I think they would make interesting accents in a floral craft project.

I know many of you use plants in crafting and art – what types of projects do you like to make?   Do you gather plants from your garden, or forage for them in the wild?   

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Cicer milkvetch, West Campus Park, northwest Calgary

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Aggressive?  Who, me?