Wildflowers and Wild Life

July 14th, 2019 | 14 Comments »

Some wildflowers are called weeds… but often those ‘weeds’ have pretty flowers. Consider crown vetch, for instance. Its purple flowers are lovely from a distance and it is useful as a temporary ground cover to prevent erosion. But it’s also a menace, in some cases covering and shading out native plants.  Chickweed, on the other hand, isn’t a problem, although people who yearn for perfect lawns may disagree.


It's chickweed but it's actually quite nice.
It’s called chickweed because chickens love to eat it. People can too, and its flowers are quite nice.

A few years ago I threw out some seeds of a flower I saw growing alongside a road. It is some form of scabious, I think, and has happily seeded itself all around the Skating Pond in the Upper Field.


For a wildflower to seed itself all over a field ... how lucky is that!
For a wildflower as pretty as this one to seed itself all over a field … how lucky is that!


Some kind of tiny butterfly obviously finds it appealing.


Butterfly or moth? What's the difference?
Butterfly or moth? What’s the difference?


Also dismissed as a weed is milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Yes, it spreads easily which can create problems, but take a look at the flowers — aren’t they pretty enough to make up for that?


A close up shows the tiny blossoms that make up the single flower.
A close up shows the tiny blossoms that make up the slightly pendulous round umbel. There can be as many as 100 flowers on each.


Common milkweed forms large groups by clones, and that is happening in some of the fields at Glen Villa.  I don’t mind, though. The flowers smell good and common milkweed is the host for monarch butterflies as well as being of special value to native, bumble and honey bees.


Can someone tell me what's going on here, on the underside of the leaf?
I think the orange and black creature is the milkweed leaf beetle. Not surprising since it seems quite happy on the underside of this leaf. But is it eating something else as well?


It’s obviously attractive to all kinds of wild life.


Can someone identify this little guy?
Can someone identify this little guy?


Native Americans used milkweed as a source of fibres, and during the Second World War children in northern states were encouraged to collect the floss for floatation in life vests.  Who knew?

Even stranger, the floss is now being used as insulation for winter coats! According to Wikipedia, the first milkweed insulated winter coat was produced in 2016 in collaboration with Altitude Sports, a Canadian online retailer, Quartz Co., a Canadian brand producing high-quality winter coats, and Monark™, a Quebec-based company cultivating milkweed fibres.

Just a pretty picture.
Just a pretty picture.


The best way to get an up close and personal look at the milkweed growing at Glen Villa is to visit the garden next Saturday, July 20. On that day only, we are opening the garden to the public as a fundraiser for the Massawippi Foundation and Conservation Trust. Tickets are selling fast so buy yours on line today through  the Massawippi Foundation. 

Tickets will be available on site unless all are sold before then.  No dogs and no picnics, please!




Words on the Land

July 7th, 2019 | 7 Comments »
I deliberately made the questions difficult to read in order to slow people down.
A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the old saying goes. But sometimes a word says all that needs to be said. Or perhaps, more than a thousand pictures can convey. Words label each section of Timelines, the 2.9 km trail that we are opening to the public for the first time on July 20, as a fund-raiser for the Massawippi Foundation. (You can buy your tickets by clicking here.) Words begin the journey at In Transit/En Route, where signs ask questions   [caption id="attachment_7711" align="alignleft" width="5184"] I deliberately


Introducing Mr. Albert Stumpson

July 3rd, 2019 | 6 Comments »
stumpy (2 of 5)
For many years a pine tree towered over an old house where a tenant farmer once lived.   [caption id="attachment_6230" align="alignleft" width="4000"] You can see the tall pine tree behind the house in this photo from 2009.[/caption]   In search of the sun, it gradually leaned farther and farther away from the house. Until one day, it fell.   [caption id="attachment_6221" align="alignleft" width="4316"] The screened porch on the farmhouse is the perfect place to sit on a summer's evening.[/caption]   When the branches were removed, my son-in-law noticed that the


Favourite Things

June 27th, 2019 | 6 Comments »
The many petals of this peony capture raindrops.
Sometimes, pictures of pretty flowers are enough. I took these photos in a garden in Knowlton, Quebec that I visited last week. It was a grey, rainy day but the gardens were glorious! The flowers in one garden were the stars of the day.   [caption id="attachment_7653" align="alignleft" width="5184"] Raindrops on roses are nice. Raindrops on peonies are even better. I'm not sure how to rank whiskers on kittens.[/caption]   Bright copper kettles are no competition for the WOW! of this poppy. Talk about gorgeous!   [caption id="attachment_7652" align="alignleft" width="3765"] The


Canada Geese Go Home!

June 23rd, 2019 | 15 Comments »
Canada geese are gorgeous birds to look at. But why, oh why, do I have to see them here at Glen Villa? Towards the end of May I saw two adults swimming with their little ones. How many babies were there?   [caption id="attachment_7636" align="alignleft" width="1790"] Talk about getting all your ducks in a row....or your geese in this case.[/caption]   The goslings swam in and out of sight, and each time I counted I got a different number. But I could see there were a lot of them. The next


La Seigneurie

June 16th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Ken is pouring canola seed into the back of the seeder.
In the 1600s, when Quebec was known as La Nouvelle France, land was divided into seigneuries, properties under the control of a seigneur, or lord of the manor. Fields farmed by habitants were arranged in long narrow strips fronting onto the St. Lawrence River, making it easy to transport goods by water at a time when roads were few. [caption id="attachment_7576" align="alignleft" width="500"] This drawing from Wikipedia shows the layout of a typical seigneurie. Established in 1627, the seigneurial system was officially abolished in 1854.[/caption]              



June 9th, 2019 | 11 Comments »
Looking back shows the pink crabapples that mark the beginning and end of La Grande Allée.
Last week I showed a tiny speck of white at the end of the La Grande Allée. [caption id="attachment_7539" align="alignleft" width="5184"] You can see the drone camera easily in this photo. The speck of white at the end of La Grande Allée is much harder to make out.[/caption]   In that post, I promised a closer view of that hint of white. And here it is.   [caption id="attachment_7572" align="alignleft" width="3792"] Oh, my!  Could you tell from a distance that it was a chair?[/caption]   The white crabapple trees along


Crabapples in Bloom!

June 3rd, 2019 | 19 Comments »
untitled (2 of 14)
The crabapple allée is in full bloom and boy, is it gorgeous! The long line of trees are stunning whether you look from the side ...   straight down the middle ...   or up close.   Last week my friend Tim Doherty came over with his drone camera to give a different point of view.  He launched the camera from a flat piece of cardboard he put on the ground.     He controlled its speed and direction from his computer, [caption id="attachment_7530" align="alignleft" width="5184"] If you look closely you can


Is it Spring yet?

May 26th, 2019 | 12 Comments »
Daffodils scribble their way across the grass at the Dragon's Tail.
Spring is here, finally, with the promise that summer is a-comin' in. Or so it feels today. And maybe it will feel the same tomorrow, but who knows? Oscar Wilde said that conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Not so for gardeners in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where I garden. Weather means more for us. This year at least it means ground so soggy that farmers still can't seed their fields. It means trees still struggling to leaf out.   [caption id="attachment_7506" align="alignleft" width="5184"]


Open Garden Day Tickets on Sale!

May 20th, 2019 | No Comments »
Saturday, July 20 is the day and you are invited!   Come and explore the wonders of the garden and landscape when Glen Villa opens to the public as a fundraiser for the Massawippi Foundation and Conservation Trust. All proceeds from your admission fee go to support land conservation, community projects and a network of trails that lead through pristine woodlands, preserved in perpetuity by the Conservation Trust. Buy your tickets now for a morning or afternoon visit!