Tag Archives: wildflowers

Flowers, Fields and Food

June 8th, 2020 | 1 Comment »

An assortment of photos shows the variety of what is happening now at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Flowers are blooming everywhere. One that I am particularly fond of is columbine. The native variety, Aquilegia canadensis, grows freely in many spots in the garden. In the photo below, it complements the colour palette of new growth on a spirea, Spirea ‘Magic Carpet,’ a shrub that the deer ignore. (Hooray!)

 

aqui with spirea (1 of 1)

 

Years ago, I started various columbines from seed, including some seed I brought back from Australia. I think this deep blue one is from a B&B where we stayed and I’ve named it after that historic building, Purrembete. (Checking on-line, however, I find that it may be only the common columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris.)

 

aquilegia purrembete (1 of 1)

 

Wildflowers are also appearing. Lupins and ragged robin (Lychis flos-cuculi) cover the hillside above the driveway.

 

lupin (1 of 1)

 

Wild strawberries are growing in abundance in parts of the Big Meadow.

 

wild strawberries (1 of 1)

 

The patch of red, or sheep, sorrel (Rumex acetosella) in the Big Meadow gets bigger every year, growing as it does on acidic, sandy soils. Sheep sorrel is considered a noxious weed and while it isn’t very attractive close up…

 

dock (2 of 2)

 

… it makes quite a show from a distance.

 

dock (1 of 2)

 

But the most beautiful wildflower at the moment is the blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium). It is in full bloom alongside La Grande Allée, and its abundance makes up for this year’s disappointing show from the crabapple trees.

 

blue eyed (1 of 1)

 

I have several projects on the go at the moment, one of which is La Seigneurie. Last year we planted the seigneurie field with a mix of canola, flax and barley. The colours weren’t as strong as I had hoped, nor was the pattern of long, narrow strips intended to reflect the planting practices used when Quebec was a French colony. So I decided this year to create alternating bands using only two kinds of seeds, oats and red clover.

We seeded the field on May 28 and, happily, it rained that night, giving the seeds the moisture they need to germinate.

 

La Seigneurie (2 of 3)

 

Less than a week later, new growth  was starting to appear.

 

La Seigneurie (3 of 3)

 

I titled this blog Flowers, Fields and Food. Flowers I’ve shown in abundance, plus one field.  But what about food?

Perhaps you saw the photos I posted last week showing a new-born fawn. Since then I’ve now spotted the baby several times, alone and with her mother. The best sighting was a few days ago, when I was fortunate enough to see the doe nurse her fawn.

 

fawn, doe (1 of 1)

 

I watched the pair for more than 15 minutes, staying well away so as not to disrupt their intimacy. But even though I wasn’t close, I felt connected to the mother and child, not as a voyeur but as another living creature, part of a momentarily peaceful world.

 

fawn 2 (1 of 1)

 

If only such peace would last.

It’s Beginning!

April 27th, 2020 | 7 Comments »
This is a strange year. Like most of you, I've been spending far more time than usual at home, inside, seeing almost no one apart from my husband. I've wasted time and saved my sanity by reading, baking brownies and doing jigsaw puzzles. [caption id="attachment_8665" align="alignleft" width="5184"] This 1000 piece jigsaw of a pointillist painting by Georges Seurat was particularly difficult to do.[/caption]   The weather has been strange too. Spring came about two weeks earlier than usual but overall the  month has been cooler than normal. This means that snowdrops

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Wildflowers Rule!

September 9th, 2019 | 6 Comments »
Labour Day has come and gone, which must mean that summer is over. But the wildflowers blooming so exuberantly in the fields around Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec's Eastern Townships, say that isn't so.   [caption id="attachment_7991" align="alignleft" width="5184"] Joe Pye weed has taken over an unused field... and every year I thank it for doing moving in.[/caption]   Ok, perhaps that's wishful thinking. The Joe Pye weed that was so gorgeous a few weeks ago is faded now, and while that has its own style of beautiful, it

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Wildflowers and Wild Life

July 14th, 2019 | 16 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.   [caption id="attachment_7731" align="alignleft" width="2773"] It's called chickweed because chickens love to eat it. People can too, and its flowers are quite

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The Middle of August

August 13th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
In the middle of August the garden at Glen Villa is just beginning to emerge from an unusually long dry spell. A few days ago we had rain -- buckets of it that washed out our driveway and threw a section of bank into Lake Massawippi. (We repaired the driveway; the lake itself may take care of the landslide.) Before the rain, plants were wilting badly. The leaves on a catalpa tree we planted years ago first drooped, then began to curl up and turn brown; thankfully they are now starting to recover.

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Midsummer Medley

July 23rd, 2018 | 14 Comments »
Mid-July is truly the middle of summer in North Hatley, Quebec, when both the flowers in the garden at Glen Villa and the wildflowers in the fields strut their stuff. The Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' at The Aqueduct is still blooming, a month after it began. The Eremurus 'Cleopatra' that provided such a wonderful vertical accent has faded now, but its candles remained lit for several weeks. Only in the last few days  have they been extinguished.     Nearby, a clematis (Clematis 'Inspiration') with the same colour tonality as the

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What’s in a Name?

June 1st, 2018 | 4 Comments »
I saw this wildflower in the woods last week and was surprised to learn its botanical name, Cardamine diphylla.     I was surprised because only a week or so ago, I looked up the name of another plant, now growing in damp areas in the garden and in the fields at Glen Villa. Its botanical name is Cardamine pratensis.   [caption id="attachment_6380" align="aligncenter" width="3264"] Lady's smock or milkmaids is growing beside the Glen Villa pond. It has bloomed for several weeks.[/caption]   What is the relationship between the two Cardamines? Are

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The Big Meadow, Year 3

May 24th, 2018 | 13 Comments »
In 2016, in order to discourage Canada geese from 'littering' the  lawn, we began to transform it into a meadow. We didn't follow the advice given by experts on how to create a meadow -- their process involved too much work and too much expense. Instead we simply stopped cutting the grass. We let it grow throughout the season and cut it only once in the fall, to mulch the leaves and to cut down any trees that were taking root. Now, entering the third year of this experiment, it is fascinating to see what is appearing. From a

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The Big Meadow, 2017

September 25th, 2017 | 8 Comments »
Is it accurate to call The Big Lawn at Glen Villa The Big Meadow? If you use an American definition, the answer is yes.  If you consult an English dictionary, the answer is less clear. Webster's Dictionary defines a meadow as a tract of low or level land producing grass which is mown for hay,  and that definition fits precisely. Allowing the sweep of grass beside our house that was tended for decades to remain untouched produced six large bales of hay last year, the first year we didn't mow regularly.  Those bales were

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Garden Envy

June 20th, 2017 | 19 Comments »
Coming home from a tour of English gardens I felt a short, sharp shock. Everything in my garden looked inadequate, not up to the standard I had come to expect. I moped. I complained. Why can't I grow the hundreds of plants I saw and admired?  Some of them must surely suit my climate. So why don't the garden centres around Glen Villa stock them? Then I faced the facts. My garden will never match the perfection of an English estate that employs six or seven full time gardeners.  The garden centres will

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