The winter blues: elm tree in winter.


It was a sparkly, frosty day here in Calgary – but just look at that brilliant blue sky over this young elm tree!

I was recently doing a bit more reading about the origins and history of Dutch elm disease, which has decimated elm trees worldwide. (This information at this link is particularly fascinating).  We are fortunate here in the province of Alberta that, due to rigid pruning restrictions and strict monitoring, our elms are currently free of the disease. Hopefully this tree and its kin stay healthy and thrive into old age. ♥

Calgary snapshot: Scabiosa.


A late bloomer – really late. I can’t say I’ve ever had anything blooming in my garden at this time of year – and this is the only plant that is. It’s November 16th and there is a single Scabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta’ flower merrily swaying in the frosty, foggy breeze.  How sweet and beautiful is that?

Alberta Snapshot: Valleyview farmland.

Sept 2015 061

Fence and farmer’s field – Valleyview, Alberta – 6 September 2015

Is summer over already?  We have heavy frost in low-lying areas here this morning, and we’ve already had snowfall in the city twice since mid-August.  I ran out to the community garden last night to cover my zucchini and some of my herbs, so hopefully all made it through the night.  I’m not ready to put the garden to bed just yet!  But the leaves are changing colour very quickly (accelerated by the drought and heat stress from the summer) and the farmers are scrambling to get their crops off the fields.  It was a terrible year for farming in the province, and the frost and late rains are now making things worse.

Environment Canada has stated that we’re going to have a long, hot, dry autumn – guess we’ll see!  The birds and the insects and the plants (and the weather!) seem to suggest otherwise….

Warm thoughts: spring stirrings.

I headed out to Nose Hill and Whispering Woods shortly after sunrise this morning and spent a couple of sun-filled hours meandering on the trails…I am so thankful I had the forethought to put my ice cleats on my boots or I would have had to turn back right at the gate to the Hill.  Even with the extra grip, I was still skidding all over the place.  (Who needs to go out to the mountains for an ice walk experience when there are such excellent opportunities at home?).   😉

Yesterday was humid and cold and so the trees were all caked in frost, but as I walked I could feel the warm air currents slip down into the valleys, and the sunlight quickly burned off the ice.  The aspen were so strongly scented they made me think of spring thaw.   And that’s a very pleasant thought, indeed….



Frost…no frost…. 


Very green aspens in Whispering Woods

IMG_0789Thistles may be annoying, but boy, do they have winter interest! 



I flipped on the tube the other morning and the TV weather forecaster was using the highly technical term “diamond dust” to describe what’s been going on here in Calgary over the past couple of days.  It made me think of little fairies flitting about at sunrise, their delicate wings catching the light just so as they sprinkled the trees with icy filaments of sparkling snow conjured from the still, cold air.  And then I got to wondering if maybe we ought to use science-based language for weather reports, you know…just because.


I remember when I was very young and we were having a cold snap during the winter – it was consistently minus 40 something degrees Celsius for over a week.  We lived out in the country at the time and remote car starters weren’t a thing back then so my Dad had to go outside and start the vehicle to warm it up before driving into town to work.  One morning he walked inside, shaking frost off of his coat, and announced that the air was so cold “you could cut it with a knife!”  I was absolutely captivated by this expression, I kept rolling it around in my head and trying to figure out how a person would go about doing something like that.   Did you need a sharp steak knife, or would a flat butter knife do?  Did you just go outside and start slashing away or should you choose a specific piece of the air to cut?

I’m not sure what I would have done with the concept of frost as “diamond dust.”  I guess that’s how stories and poems get written.  And weather reports, apparently.  😉



Snow in summer. No, not the flower.

Well…we already had frost last Wednesday night, and an intense cold front moved into southern Alberta late yesterday.  Heavy rain overnight is expected to turn to snow flurries by this afternoon (it’s apparently already coming down in the north), and the whole mess is supposed to persist through Wednesday.

I picked all of my tomatoes yesterday morning – vine ripening at minus 2 degrees Celsius or colder is a pleasant concept, but tricky to achieve.  Anyone know a good green tomato recipe?  (I’m not keen on them fried!).


(From the Capitol Hill Community Garden, Calgary, Alberta – photograph taken 6 September 2014)

I know this chilly blip on the weather radar won’t last, and we’ll have more sunshine and warmth before long, but this zinnia and I are thinking about packing our bags and heading south.  Like South Pacific south, where spring is just arriving.  I was talking with someone a couple of days ago and we were laughing about how weather-obsessed we Canadians are – but you can’t blame us, can you?

Okay, you know I’m going to ask it:  How’s the weather where you live?

Wildflower consolation.

This is what our local news station posted on its Facebook page last night:


Seriously…frost warning?  I really don’t think I can handle this…and I know my garden DEFINITELY isn’t ready!

While we weren’t quite in the frost zone here in Calgary, we’re currently sitting at a (balmy!) 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) this morning and I know I’m going to need to wear my jacket to work.  And maybe my mittens, LOL!  I’m a tad worried about my zucchini plants, as our community garden has some nasty frost pockets.  Last year, in early September, a not-quite-frost came through and blasted all of the squash plants to blackened mush.  I’m right in the middle of Zucchinipalooza and it would be sad to see it end so soon.  (Speaking of which, does anyone have any favourite zucchini recipes to share?  I’m having such fun trying out new ones!).  🙂

Despite (because of?) the vagaries of our weather, the wildflowers are still blooming merrily away.  I recently took a walk up to my favourite neighbourhood haunts, Nose Hill and Whispering Woods, to enjoy the sights:


Wild Bergamot – Monarda fistulosa


Prairie Coneflower – Ratibida columnifera 


Fireweed – Chamerion angustifolium  Sigh…this just reminds me that I didn’t get around to making fireweed jelly again this year.  It WILL happen in 2014! 


Northern Crane’s-Bill – Geranium bicknellii


Smooth Blue Aster – Symphyotrichum laeve


What wildflowers are blooming in your part of the world?  Which ones are your favourites?