Perspective – Grass Islands and Paths

The grassy paths from here to there.

‘Out Back’ is a fenced in area where the deer and the moose are NOT allowed to wander. For many years it was mostly grass because it was where our septic field was until the field got flooded with abundant rain. We moved the field to higher ground – which gave us more landscaping freedom. I started by letting the grass grow taller in some areas, creating wide, sweeping grass paths. The grandchildren loved racing along them and playing hide and seek.

A few years ago I started letting more and more grass grow taller, creating a series of grass islands. I started planting perennials, bushes and trees in the islands. This is what it looked like last fall, from the perspective of someone just over 5 ft tall…

Enter The Car Guy, who had bought himself a Drone and was looking for photo projects. At this Drone height, you get a better idea of what my project looks like.

Higher still, and another perspective. You can see the industrial warehouses that are starting to ‘creep’ out our way.

Way, way up – a clear view of nine of the ten grass islands. Over the next few years we can mow less pathways, add more shrubs and trees and let the islands get bigger.

Hopefully everything will have matured by the time the farm behind us is developed into an industrial park!

The aspen and spruce wooded area at the top of the photo is not fenced. It forms a small part of a large wooded habitat that is home to deer, moose, fox, coyotes and many other mammals and birds.

I can hardly wait until spring time – so many outdoor gardening plans – and not a single one of them depends on the stage we are at with this pesky virus!

Fall Colours – Cotoneaster

Two more plants that grow prolifically in our woods are the Cotoneaster (it is such a temptation to call it a ‘Cotton Easter’ bush…) and the wild raspberry. Both arrived in our woods from bird droppings.

Red Cotoneaster leaves, green wild raspberry leaves
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Plant Profile
Common Name: Cotoneasters (pronounced ‘co_TONY-aster’)
Scientific Name: Cotoneaster; family Rosaceae
Growth: Full sun to partial shade; very adaptable to both dry and moist locations; hardy to zone 2A
Blooms: Clusters of shell pink flowers along the branches in mid spring

Fall Colours – Dogwood

Red Twig Dogwood
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Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
-Albert Camus –

Plant Profile
Common Name: Red Osier or Red Twig Dogwood
Scientific Name: Cornus spp.

Dogwood, which can be native to Alberta parkland forest understories, is a relatively easy bush to grow. It has interesting flowers in the spring, nice berries in the summer, great fall colour, and beautiful bright stems for winter colour.

We have several on our property. They arrived via bird droppings. I think that is quite amazing, actually. Who knows how far away the bird was when it ate some seeds (berries) from a dogwood. The seeds had to have been at just the right stage of ripeness. Then the bird flew some distance and pooped on a piece of ground that was a receptive host. The dogwood seed had to germinate, put down roots, and out muscle the plants around it in order to survive.

This year the dogwood got big enough for me to see it. It is about 3 feet (1 meter) high. It is not too far from a path I walk regularly – not hard to miss when the leaves turned bright red.

In contrast, there is a red-berried elder on our property that grew to be four times that size before I finally discovered it. It was delivered by bird poop too, but not in a location that it can easily be seen.

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
-Author Unknown –

Fall Colours – Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper
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Plant Profile
Common Name: Virginia Creeper
Scientific Name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

This vine is a prolific deciduous climber, reaching heights of 20–30 m (70–100 ft) in the wild. It climbs smooth surfaces using small forked tendrils tipped with tiny strongly adhesive pads 5 mm (3⁄16 in) in size.

We have Virginia Creeper growing, under strict supervision, in two locations. The one in the photo is in a large planter box. It has been growing there for 20 years or so. I shear it back a few times each year so that it doesn’t take off across the patio and out onto the driveway. If left to do what it does best, it would engulf a small car in just one growing season.

The other location is next to a quonset steel building where it (and six of its siblings) are supposed to climb up the side of the building. To date, the strong adhesive pads are not having much luck climbing the shiny metal. Maybe next year.

Fall at my Alberta Home – Aspen

Trembling Aspen Leaves
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Plant Profile
Common Name: Trembling (Quaking) Aspen
Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides

Trembling (aka Quaking) Aspen is the most widely distributed tree in North America, and is known for the distinctive rustling sound its leaves make in the breeze. It is also the preferred wood for that most Canadian of animals – the beaver. These industrious creatures use it as a food source and as the main structural wood in their dams and houses.

Trembling Aspen reproduces by root propagation. This creates clones of the original tree, which can produce pure stands covering a large area. The clones are considered as one individual so these colonies are some of the largest and oldest living organisms on the planet.
– Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement –

We have a four or five stands of these trees on our property. Each stand has dozens and dozens of trees of various ages. This was an exceptionally good growing year for them because we did not have many aspen leaf roller caterpillars. Instead, there are dark spots on the leaves – perhaps a fungus of some kind. Aspen are susceptible to many insects and diseases, which is why mother nature gave them the ability to grow up fast to compensate for the fact they die relatively young.

Trembling Aspen – fighting for domination with the spruce trees
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Trembling Aspen stand – no spruce trees to compete against
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Proust and a Palo Verde Tree

You know how it goes. You start with one thing, and that leads to something else, and you end up somewhere you didn’t expect to be.

I started with a photo of a forest clearing (actually it is in the Arizona desert ‘highlands’ and the saguaro cactus is a clue that it isn’t a traditional forest – but the Palo Verde tree in bloom makes it seem foresty.) Then I ran the photo past a few filters to see what might pop out. I overlaid a quote by Marcel Proust to the original photo because it seemed to fit.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
– Marcel Proust –

Then, because Proust said a lot of interesting things, his words kind of slipped in with the rest of the filtered photos.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
– Marcel Proust –

Like many intellectuals, he was incapable of saying a simple thing in a simple way.
– Marcel Proust –

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.
– Marcel Proust –

There is no one, no matter how wise he is, who has not in his youth said things or done things that are so unpleasant to recall in later life that he would expunge them entirely from his memory if that were possible.
– Marcel Proust –

One cannot change, that is to say become a different person, while continuing to acquiesce to the feelings of the person one has ceased to be.
– Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way –

The Palo Verde is the State Tree of Arizona. Like life, it is kind of messy. It can shed it’s leaves twice a year and it creates a blizzard of yellow ‘debris’ when it drops it’s flowers. The flowers are pollinated by bees. You might see as many as 20 species of bees at the tree at one time if you are brave enough to stand under a whole tree that is buzzing. (There are more than 1,000 species of bees in southern Arizona.)

French novelist Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922) is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Many of his observations, like the ones above, seem to be as applicable today as they must have been when he wrote them. What say you?

Crabapple

If you have a Crabapple Tree in your yard, you know there can be such a thing as too many crabapples. If you offer your crabapples to the local wildlife –  deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, bears, raccoons or coyotes for instance –  you won’t ever have to deal with too many crabapples. You might end up with wild life problems, however…

I planted six Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple trees a few years ago. This year we harvested the three crabapples you see in this photo. Too many crabapples might not be a problem for some time.

Plant Profile
Common Name: Purple Spire Columnar Crabapple
Scientific Name: Malus x ‘Jefspire’
Hardiness: to Zone 3
Growth: Purple foliage; full sun; 10 to 20 feet tall (8 meters); 5-10 feet wide (2.5 meters); columnar form; slow growing
Blooms: Sparse pink flowers in spring.
Fruit: Flavorful but often very tart
Origin: A seedling from the controlled cross ‘Thunderchild’ and ‘Wijcik made by Dr. David Lane of the Summerland Research Station in British Columbia

If you plant crabapples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.
– Author Unknown –

Mountain Ash Berries

Sorbus genus
Mountain Ash Berries
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The Mountain Ash tree is a member of the Sorbus genus. The fruit is not only safe for humans to eat, it is a favorite of many types of birds. Mountain ash berries hang on the tree well into the winter, making it a good source of cold-weather bird nutrition.

In Celtic and Norse folklore, the Mountain Ash was called a Rowan or Witchwood tree because it was believed they had magical properties.

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If you have read the Harry Potter books, you might remember that Rowan Wood was prized for making wands.

It is commonly stated that no dark witch or wizard ever owned a rowan wand, and I cannot recall a single instance where one of my own rowan wands has gone on to do evil in the world.
– Mr. Ollivander, Harry Potter books –

This site about Wand Woods was of particular interest to me because the Red House woods not only have a Mountain Ash tree, they have numerous other trees that are good for making wands: several apple trees, many aspen, dogwood, larch, pine, poplar, spruce and willow. If I was inclined to start a wand making business, I would have lots of wood to choose from.

Have you ever started writing a post and found you headed off in a direction that was entirely different than where you started going? So it was with this post, which was simply going to be about photo filters that blur, add textures or shift colours. I thought I’d add the Latin name for the Mountain Ash tree and before I knew it, I had found sites about the many uses for the berries and, of course, wand making… and witches.

Most people think witches are a coven of lesbians dancing naked in the forest celebrating the semen stolen from imprisoned hypnotized males, which they then use to inseminate one another using turkey basters in order to create a legion of demon babies. Well, that’s only part of it. We are also active in community outreach programs.
– Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not, a satirical novel by comedians Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert –