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June update and some provincial flowers

The Tuesday Café is rather quiet these days. You may have noticed that I’ve only been posting monthly for the last little while.

That’s because I’m hard at work on the next book in my WEDDING series. This one should be available by October 1st. It is the prequel to ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING. I’m just wrapping up the final chapter and then I’ll let it simmer for a bit before sending it off to my editor. Next, the fun will begin with choosing a cover.

Besides writing, I’ve been doing some traveling. At the beginning of June, I spent a week in Regina and the Saskatchewan countryside.

Prairie for miles and miles

Nothing but prairie for miles and miles.

Here is the grain elevator in the little town of Limerick. The hotel in this town makes the best chicken wings in the world.

Saskatchewan’s provincial flower is the western red lily, also known as the wood lily or prairie lily.

provincial flower - western red lily

western red lily

Last week, I was in Ontario for the annual family reunion. We are fortunate to have a great photographer in the group who happens to have a “drone” and so we even got some aerial shots this year.

Everybody wave!

One of the farms I visited had peaches ripening in the beautiful Ontario sunshine.

peach tree

As usual, I visited Pinecroft for lunch with some of my cousins. And I bought an art card of trilliums, Ontario’s provincial flower. I’m holding the card here.  

at Pinecroft

I intend to frame it, maybe with a double mat, some white and a bit of green. Trilliums have three large white petals and they bloom in the springtime. Here’s a picture of trilliums up close. My sister has some in her backyard. I wish I could grow them in Alberta but we don’t have the climate for it.

provincial flower - trillium

trillium

Alberta’s provincial flower is the resilient Rosa acicularis, otherwise known as the prickly rose, the wild rose and the Arctic rose.

provincial flower - Alberta rose

Alberta Rose

This little flower starts blooming in late May and will often continue to bloom into August.

Do you know what your provincial (or state) flower is? Got any growing in your backyard? Do you have an annual family reunion?

 

Ontario trillium from bigstockphoto #164564648
Saskatchewan western red lily from bigstockphoto #164564648
Alberta rose from depositphotos #47112519_l-2015

Daylilies

dayliliesI grew up on a mixed farm in Southwestern Ontario.

My dad rotated crops of corn, wheat, beans and occasionally sunflowers. My mother grew a garden of carrots, asparagus, string beans, leaf lettuce and a few tomato plants. There was a flower garden right in front of the living room windows with lots of petunias and morning glories. Mom used to put strings in front of the windows and “train” the morning glories to climb.

One year I saw her sprinkle morning glory seeds at the base of an upright juniper beside the lane. The morning glories topped the trees by the end of the season.

Everything grows well in the rich soil of Southwestern Ontario. Across the road, a few yards away from our lane, there was a ditch filled with orange daylilies. They are not technically wildflowers, but somehow they got started there. Since they are very hardy, they don’t need a lot of care. They manage to survive the intense heat of the summer even if there is little rain. They’re not fussy about the soil and the bugs don’t seem to bother them. And they bloom from early spring until the frost comes in the fall.

Notice that is one word. Daylilies.

The scientific name for these flowers is Hemerocallis. This comes from the Greek words hemera (day) and kallos (beauty). An appropriate name, since these perennials only bloom for a day, opening in the early morning sun and withering by nightfall.

Although they look like lilies, they are not of the lily family. True lilies grow from bulbs and daylilies have tuberous rootstocks. And, of course, the cut blooms of real lilies can last a week or more.

As children, we would pick bunches of daylilies and bring them home where they sat in mason jars and wilted by nightfall. Still, we kept picking them and our mother kept putting them in jars.
mason jarsAlso across the road, and down about a quarter mile, was another farm where the bachelor Gordon lived. He was a soldier from WWII who had taken up farming, and like many farmers, he supplemented his income by working at the steel factory in the city about 30 miles away. He didn’t have a phone so if the factory needed to get a message to him, they phoned our farm and one of my brothers or sisters delivered the message.

Every Christmas, the factory gave him a huge turkey. Since he lived alone, he gave the turkey to my mother and she cooked it and invited him to dinner.

Gordon also had a pear tree—a single pear tree that stood in the middle of a field. He must have liked that pear tree because he drove his tractor around it as he worked the land. Each October, that tree produced the most beautiful yellow pears I have ever seen. We would go across the road and bring back bushel baskets of the pears. We ate a lot of them and my mother canned some.
yellow pearsI was back in the area this summer, and I drove past the old farm. The pear tree is gone. Maybe because the new owner didn’t like the inefficiency of driving around that single tree. Or maybe the tree died.

But in the ditch, although not as abundant as I remember, the daylilies are still there.
daylilies
Daylilies from MorgueFile
Mason jars from Bigstockphoto #9102760
Pears from Bigstockphoto#98820719
Daylilies from Bigstockphoto #95722331

Prairie Crocus

Prairie Crocus

Every spring, the Prairie Crocus is the first plant to bloom on the prairie—even when it’s still snowing, like it has been in Calgary.

The Prairie Crocus has many names. I’ve been looking through my four plant identification books and, while they all refer to the Prairie Crocus, they don’t seem to agree on a botanical name. Some say Pulsatilla patens. Some say Anemone patens.

The Prairie Crocus is also called Cutleaf Anemone, Prairie Anemone, and Pasqueflower. But in Calgary, we call it the Prairie Crocus.

The flowers are usually pale blue or mauve but sometimes they are white or light yellow. When they open they are 1 ½ inches to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

Prairie CrocusGenerally, flowers have Sepals and Petals. A sepal is the outer part of the flower. And the petals are within the sepals. Sepals are usually green and their job is to protect the tender petals inside.

In the case of the Prairie Crocus, there are no petals, only sepals, 5 to 7 sepals. These sepals, of course, are not green. They are the showy colours we see on the brown prairie hillsides.

Each stem holds one bloom. The stems are about 4 inches high and they are “hairy” or “woolly” as though Mother Nature decided to dress them warmly so they can tolerate the cold spring.

Prairie CrocusIn fact, the Prairie Crocus knows a lot about staying warm. The sepals create a saucer shape, allowing the crocus to direct the sunlight on the inner stamens and pistils. Not only that, this intelligent plant follows the sun as it crosses the sky, collecting warmth all day long. The warmth helps the pollen and seeds develop, and provides a warm place for insects on a chilly spring day.

The Prairie Crocus is found in the dry prairie grasslands throughout the Prairie Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Manitoba has adopted the flower as its floral emblem, and it appears on this stamp with Manitoba’s coat of arms.

2014-05-06-canstockphoto6572872Do you have Prairie Crocuses where you live? Is that what you call them? Or do you give them a different name?

Crocuses from Rolf Stengl
Stamp from Canstockphoto.com #6572872

Silver Springs Wildflowers

Silver Springs Wildflowers

~ Woolly Groundsel and Northern Hedysarum ~

On the Silver Springs hillside, above the still flooded Bow River, the land has never been ploughed.

A few days ago, the hillside boasted 31 varieties of blooming wildflowers. There are many other wildflowers there, but 31 of them were in bloom. That’s what you get with natural prairie.

The yellow ones are called Woolly Groundsel (senecio canus) and the pinks are Northern Hedysarum (hedysarum boreale). The pinks are also called Northern Sweetvetch, but I like Hedysarum better. A pretty word for a pretty flower. Maybe even a name for a character in a story . . .

What’s blooming where you live?

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

I think everyone can identify the clover wildflower, but there are many more wildflowers that most of us have never heard of. I don’t know why I find wildflowers so interesting but I do.

Last year, my husband Rolf canoed down the Bow River, landed on an island, and started taking pictures of the wildflowers. You might not consider them “flowers” – you might think they are “weeds”. It’s just a word and the reality depends on your perspective.

So there he is, tracking Water Smartweed, and he trips and drops his camera into the beaver pond. This is sad, because now he needs to buy a new camera. Not only that, he can’t photograph the Water Smartweed.

That was last year. He bought a new camera, a Panasonic Lumix LX5, and he paddled down the river again. And damn, he couldn’t find the Water Smartweed! But, on the other side of the island, he did manage to find Pale Smartweed. This is what it looks like.

Wildflowers - Pale Smartweed

Pale Smartweed

Imagine writing a fantasy universe and having to come up with a whole set of names for the vegetation on that world. It could take days of work.

But why bother? Hardly anybody knows what the stuff on this planet is called. Like our neighbour Bruce, who has a few weeds in his alley. Rolf was out there talking to him and telling him what his “weeds” were called. And then Rolf found one he didn’t recognize so he took out his trusty camera and got a photo. After checking four reference books, he discovered it was Prickly Lettuce. This is what it looks like.

Wildflowers - Prickly Lettuce

Prickly Lettuce

I had no idea this was Prickly Lettuce and I’ll bet you didn’t either. So now we both know what it looks like.

This naming of Wildflowers may seem to have no apparent purpose, but it does.

  1. It’s useful for creating a realistic sounding alternate reality.
  2. If you are ever on a Game Show, you at least know Something.
  3. If you have grandchildren, you might impress them.
  4. And, best of all, it’s a friendly interest in the universe.

How about you? Do you have a favourite weed or wildflower? Can you hardly wait until Rolf can find and photograph the Water Smartweed?

clover from bigstockphoto #229975936