Out in the woods – falling leaves

The ‘colourful leaves’ spectacle is getting close to an end in this part of Ontario; all we can do is to enjoy the last  warm, golden- russet hues which make the woodland glow. Green spots of moss boulders and Hepaticas, the fragrance of the dry leaves, the soft light – all so lovely!

Falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly.
                          John Bailey



Awaiting for the hummingbird

September Wildlife Wednesday

September – the hummers are more visible and feeding more often trying to fatten up before the flight back to their winter homes. Although they are ‘punctual’ for their meals they are hard to catch on camera though; it seems they are picky on the daily menu: Hibiscus, Delphinium, Kniphofia, Phlox…. They are fun to watch but so frustrating to photograph!

In waiting for the hummingbird, I will show first more pictures of swallowtails and the hummingbird moth, all captured while feeding one afternoon on Vernonia – Ironweed (probably V. noveboracensis). It was quite crowded! I don’t have this plant in the garden, so it is on top of my wish list (there are seeds, no worry… :)


Giant swallowtail – Papilio cresphontes; said to be the largest butterfly found in Canada


Eastern black swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes (there are a few subspecies, but let’s not go into details here)

The Hummingbird clearwing moth behaves like the hummingbirds, showing around the garden at the same time for the feeding. According with wiki, this moth is considered to be a hummingbird mimic and is frequently mistaken for it! It collects nectar from a variety of species, using a long proboscis. I’ve also seen it on Phlox and Monarda, and it seems to prefer purple and red flowers.


Hummingbird clearwing – Hemaris thysbe

And since we’ve waited for the hummingbird, here it is my best shot taken yesterday just by pure chance. The female of the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris) or Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), I cannot tell for sure; feeding on a Delphinium.


As always, there is much more to read and many beautiful pictures with birds and other pollinators for this Wildlife Wednesday meme, at Tina’s wildlife friendly Blog!


In between

In a temperate continental climate there is always a stretch of time called by those with an optimistic inclination – early spring. Surely it’s not winter anymore, and it’s not spring yet; this is the ‘in between’.

A whole plethora of plants will fast come into bloom as soon as it gets warm: snowdrops, crocuses, winter aconites (Eranthis), Cyclamen coum, some Helleborus, Corydalis solida, to name just a few. Others like Stylophorum, Corydalis nobilis, Lathyrus vernus, Hepatica, Primulas will show up wearing tight future flower buds – a tantalising promise.

The ‘in between’ can bring great joy and also even greater disappointments when very low temperatures return abruptly.

But even so, every day means one more step that helps to cross the ‘in between’ – to spring! :)

All images of yesterday (before the last night temperature of -9˚C!)

*Primula species were grown from seeds, and I eagerly await for P. elatior ssp. meyeri (a wild collection from Abkhazia) to flower!

Unforgettable 2015

Part 3 – Light celebrations

I am jumping to August unforgettables, which are very appropriate for showing in this day of the winter solstice when the celebrations of light begin. Dahlia coccinea plants which had started to flower in the usual dark-red colour in July, surprised me with also some yellow flowers; this rarely happens! This is because it was grown from seeds, kindly gifted by Gill from Off the Edge Gardening two years ago. I would have never attempted to grow a Dahlia from seed otherwise (which by the way, is very easy).

Dahlia coccinea yellow
Then it came along Berkheya purpurea! I couldn’t take my eyes of this plant when visiting the Aspen Grove Gardens in early August. Grown from seed, in its full splendour and in the right light – it was simply stunning!
I wouldn’t have tried this South African plant, which is said to be hardy to zone 8! So, here’s to a more adventurous seed person than myself :) Watch here a video with this most beautiful garden, which incorporates a natural woodland setting typical for SW Ontario – Aspen Grove Gardens.

Berkheya purpurea

Berkheya purpurea flowering at Aspen Grove Gardens

May the light shine into your homes and hearts at this time of year!Berkheya purpurea single headA Merry Christmas to all!

You can also read more about Berkheya purpurea here.

Unforgettable 2015

Part 1

Waiting in line at the grocery store, one is always forced to stare at magazine racks overflowing with the latest gossip. Today, while gazing absently at a title – “Unforgettable persons of the year”…my thoughts jumped to – unforgettable plants and garden moments of the year.
There have been quite a few of them, and I will make a summary over the next weeks.

Seed growing wise, I germinated for the first time Epimediums and Helleborus and was amazed how easy and delightful they are to grow from seeds.

The winter was interminable; by early March on the shady side of the patio pots were still encased in a 10 cm layer of ice. And so were Primula frondosa, Hepatica americana and few others…

Slowly, signs of spring and more buds and flowers started to appear. I gathered most of my seedling production and donated it to the ORGS sale; kind souls took in for babysitting many of the remaining ones while we got ready to sale our place.

May came and Helleborus ‘Cherry Blossom’ flowered; an unforgettable sight every year…

Helleborus 'Cherry Blossom' 2015

Helleborus ‘Cherry Blossom’ 2015

An apple a day

Once again I prepared a bit late for the Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina, who very kindly gathers together and inspires all the ‘wild gardeners’ on her My gardeners says blog. But later is better than never and a short break from the seeds is also good.
Throughout November we encouraged everyone to eat at least an apple a day, since an old apple tree has provided a bit too many of them and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus obviously saw the health benefits in doing so…


Tamiasciurus hudsonicus – American red squirrel

And off we go, more work to do for winter-proofing the nest!


My pictures are not really good but I hope to illustrate well enough our ‘plump-up’ for the winter squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis). With the long and warmer than usual fall, there are reports from all over Canada about this ‘phenomenon’ – certainly a situation that has become of national concern :)



The rabbit didn’t get any apples; he has tried to fool me with a good behaviour, but it didn’t lasted long…I can’t tell if it is the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) or the White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii). Given the size, I incline more towards the later.

6 (2)I am not doing too well, bird feeding wise; once in a while the cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) comes and sits reproachful on our only bird feeder (inherited actually from the previous owners). I don’t think he likes it, so I started a birds ‘wish list’ for Santa. Besides the chickadees and doves, a junco family (Junco hyemalis) has made its home for the winter here; they also enjoy picking up seeds from the ground rather than eating from the feeder.

And, very important, we finally have a ‘bug hotel’! I mean a real one, since the lady bugs have taken property into possession in a corner of the shed. There is a wood pile nearby, but it seems the comfort of the shed won over their customary way of spending winter. On the account of their past and future exemplar garden service, they are allowed to stay for free until spring…(there is even an extra blanket, ie. a bag with leaves, if necessary).


Ladybugs huddled together for the winter

To all followers of the Wild Wed., birds and butterflies, bugs and lizards, ants, squirrels, rabbits and all the others, I send my warm wishes for a happy holidays season and a new year full of nectar, pollen, seeds, worms, nuts, apples, and of course, lots of wildflowers!!!

Thanksgiving colours

Thanksgiving was celebrated this year with glorious reds, yellows and oranges in many shades: foliage, fruits and even a few flowers. The forest was at its glowing best!

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras albidum

Click on the thumbnails images to open the gallery:

Very distracting but I also managed to collect some seeds…

Monarch butterfly larvae on Asclepias syriaca

Wildflowers Monday follow-up

Only a picture to prove my point on milkweeds (read more) –  Not that I really need to but for just in case…(and to buy time until I process the seeds collected over the weekend ;)

Monarch butterfly larvae feeding on Asclepias syriaca (probably last stage before pupating) – Hmm, so hungry! I’ve read that the typical monarch increases in mass by 2,000 times while a caterpillar (from the tiny larvae emerging from the eggs to the fat one in the picture); such an amazing transformation that takes place in only about two weeks!

Wildflowers Monday – Pink and green Trillium

Wandering in the woods through masses of white trillium (T. grandiflorum) at peak flowering is a privilege.Trillium grandiflorumAn even greater and exciting treat is finding its pink form – Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum and interesting green variants. The pink flower form can be usually found mixed in large populations of ‘normal’ white trilliums. Scouting for them has to be done early because later almost all of the “whites” will also turn slightly pink when fading.

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum

Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum3Trillium grandiflorum f. roseum2

The greening of the White Trillium flowers is believed to be caused by infection with a plant pathogen belonging to the genus Phytoplasma. Phytoplasmic infections are usually confined to phloem and often result in the transformation of floral parts to leafy green structures, potentially leading to sterility of the plant. But there is more research to be done until all will be clear regarding this subject.

Trillium grandiflorum green variant1

Trillium grandiflorum – green variant No.1

Trillium grandiflorum green variant2

Trillium grandiflorum – green variant No. 2; I think ‘Green Feather’ would be a good name for it…

Trillium grandiflorum green variant3
Trillium grandiflorum – the No.3 green variant, arising from a carpet of wild-ginger leaves

I can only watch closely my variants to see how they evolve and if they’ll form fruits/seeds. There is something beautiful about their ‘infection’ ;) At least the No.3 looks very happy and thriving.


Wildflowers Monday

A very late spring arrival made it that early wildflowers, especially the ephemerals, will be in a rush from flowers to seeds. I almost missed the flowering start of Sanguinaria! This is the “joy” of a temperate continental climate – long winter hibernation is followed by a fast sprint which is merely a transition into the summer. Meet the future parents…

Spring wildflowers of Southwestern Ontario

  • Sanguinaria canadensis


  • Caulophyllum thalictroides

    Blue cohosh

  • Claytonia virginica

    Eastern Spring beauty

  • Eryhtronium americanum


  • Dicentra cucullaria

    Dutchman’s breeches

  • Claytonia caroliniana

    Carolina Spring beauty

  • Symplocarpus foetidus

    Skunk cabbage

  • Trillium erectum

    Stinking Benjamin, Wake robin

  • Viola macloskeyi

    Small white violet

 More to come…

I forgot to include in the slideshow an interesting finding – one nicely coloured and early blooming Arisaema triphyllum; all others were just showing up.

Arisaema triphyllum - early flowering form1

Arisaema triphyllum – early flowering form