Pine Tree Pollen

 

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Rays of green needles,

With squirming pink pollen worms,

And new needle growth.

 

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When I arrived home in the early afternoon today, the sun was shining brightly – perhaps to make up for the last three days of clouds and rain?

I glanced around the yard to see what was different, and my gaze landed upon a large pine tree.  Its growth pattern has intrigued me ever since we first transplanted it as a two-foot tall sapling many years ago.

I noticed some colour dotted in and among its needle-filled branches and went up closer to see.  And it was generously laden with clutches of these pollen “worms.”  And with new light green needle growth visible as well.

It seemed a bit puzzling to me, as in previous years I HAD noticed the new needle growth spurting outwards but never with the pollen in all of its splendour.

Somehow I must have just missed that part?

 

 

First Flowers of Spring!

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Popped up from the ground,

Tiny green stems holding up

White flower greetings!

 

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The start of every new spring season I always keenly await those first brave little bulb flowers who cheerily greet me with their delicate white faces.

Such a joyful sight to behold amid the backdrop of last year’s brown and dried vegetation.

Just now I went outside to capture some of their beauty to share with you.

I hope you like them!

The flower in the photo above is a snowdrop.

 

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These next ones are called “Glory in the Snow” and also “Striped Squill.”

(….the names I found as I was googling…..  🙂 )

 

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For me it’s an endless pleasure to gaze at these tiny white spring flowers.

Here are more snowdrops…..

 

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Nature’s Delicate Side

With icy and snowy landscapes greeting me as I look out the windows, I sometimes go poking through older photos with some of them taken in the warmer seasons…..just for that occasional break.

I came across these two last night.

 

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In a patch of downtrodden grass

Stands a sentinel.

Reaching tall….reaching for the sun’s warmth.

A splayed fan of fine, grassy wisps at the top.

In a burst of bright green,

Saying, “I am here!”

 

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Little girl in white

With a bouffant of pink hair;

Dancing with a friend.

 

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The first photo was taken during a visit at a wildlife reserve in August 2015 up in the Yukon.  Our group had walked over to where some caribou were grazing in their sufficiently large area – we could watch them with a wired fence between us – and in between taking photos of the caribou, I also found some other beauties in this spot….like that little grassy shoot.

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The second photo was taken of bleeding hearts blooms in the front bed of my garden in the spring of 2015.  I had actually waited too long, and many of the fuller clusters had already passed the height of their generous blooming time.

 

 

In Praise of the Tamarack

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Green in the summer,

Its needles turn bright yellow,

Then drop completely.

 

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Do you know the tamarack?

It’s a coniferous tree that grows abundantly in Canada.

Tamaracks are among my favourite trees!

Once the many deciduous trees have impressed us with their spectacular fall dresses and then shed them, these modest trees – known as deciduous conifers, also called Tamarack (from Algonquian) and larch, suddenly explode into vibrant yellow colour!

They are the only conifers in Canada whose needles change colour and also get dropped!  I have been enthralled with these trees ever since I first learned of their unique quality years ago, when one of our older neighbours, Ross, told me about them.

I love seeing these yellow lovelies along all the country roads I drive these days, when everything else begins to look more brown and grey and bare, before winter sets in.

 

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Note:  The word tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means “wood used for snowshoes.”

 

Surprise in my Compost Bin!

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Solitary plant —

A stray seed took root this spring

In my compost bin.

 

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As I’d go visiting my compost bin over the summer, I noticed at one point that a plant had taken root and was seemingly doing quite well.  It had its share of sun, and I checked that it had enough moisture ie. water.

The leaves and look of the plant puzzled me, so I didn’t know for a while what it would turn into, although I suspected perhaps a flowering plant?

A few days ago, when I went to look again and saw that leaves were starting to wilt with the cooler autumn temperatures, I looked more closely and realized that what I had thought might be that Chinese lantern plant with its papery “flowers” was actually….a ground cherry plant!!

I am relatively new to ground cherries, although ever since I first bought them via a farmer’s market a couple of years ago, I have become an avid eater of them!   Whenever I find some, I will get a pint.  They are usually sold with their delicately light, “papery” covers enveloping them (you can see some in the photo above).  And the ground cherries quickly disappear on my drive back home.  Yes, they are just SO good!!  For nibbling!  Tart and bursting with juice.

I suppose that a stray seed from one ground cherry last year found its way into my compost bin and germinated this season…..?

What a lovely surprise!

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This modest-looking plant produced a good two dozen yummy ground cherries – that clearly was a gift from Mother Nature!

Note:  I just did some quick research.  Ground cherries are classified under the name Physalis plant (in the nightshade family).  And I have learned that there are some connections to the Chinese Lantern (aha!), the tomatillo, and the native gooseberry.  That explains a lot!  I have bought tomatillos from a local organic farmer as well, and just recently I came across another farmstand selling the gooseberries.  Gooseberries share a tartness to the ground cherry but have a little bit more sweetness in them.

 

Autumn Wildflowers

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Sprays of blue asters,

Clustered along the roadside,

And pink clovers, too.

 

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There’s a back roads route I have been taking all summer up to the White Lake area – it’s a good 35-minute drive to my destination.  Winding here and there….with wildflowers and fields and forests and occasional wildlife to be seen.

Now that autumn has been setting in, not only do the tree leaves start changing their colours, but the later blooming wildflowers have their showy time.

For the past few days, those tiny bluish flowers have been smiling at me, as I drove by – looking like a sea of pale blue – and I didn’t want to miss out on looking at them up close, so on my drive back home two days ago, I stopped to take some pictures and to admire and enjoy their beauty.

 

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They are such cheerful pretty flowers!

 

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And then finally the wide view  of them along the roadside….

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The Mallow

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A deepest of reds,

Lovely when fully opened;

The Mallow flower.

 

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When I was visiting my parents two weeks ago, I spent some time walking about in their backyard garden, to gaze upon and admire all the various flowers and plants that my Dad lovingly tends.

This was the first time for me to see one of their favourites – the mallow.  The flowers are huge and enthralling to look at.

Here is a close-up of its center….

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The beauty of nature in its finest of details and design….

I had meant to take a photo of the flower with my hand beside it to show perspective, but in the excitement I forgot to do that, so my parents kindly sent me one from their collection.

In this final photo, you can see the comparative size of one of the mallow flowers with my Mom’s hand next to it.

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