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!
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.
These sweet little yellow columbines (Aquilegia flavescens) make me smile whenever I come across them. This one caught my eye last June while out at Grotto Mountain, and the photo is an absolute bright spot for me on this snowy, blustery day in January.
I hope everyone had a joyful holiday season and that the start of 2017 has been good to you! I will be taking a hiatus from Flowery Prose at least until the end of January and possibly until mid-February to tackle a bunch of projects…I look forward to catching up with all of you then!
This wasn’t planned, of course – it was a case of “I’ll just stuff this plant into that currently unoccupied bit of soil” – but the colour combination of ‘Flashing Lights’ dianthus and yellow flax makes me smile. Especially as it is now the end of November, and June, when I took this photo, seems like a very distant memory….
Here’s a flashback to a gorgeous sunny morning in mid-June, and these new Supertunias from Proven Winners were really putting on a show in my garden. What do you think of the brilliant green edge on ‘Picasso in Purple’?
(You can preview the 2017 collection from Proven Winners here).