Tag Archives: wildflowers

“Garlic Mustard”

“Garlic Mustard” - Alliara petiolata

Alliara petiolata

What at first glance looks like a scraggly weed, growing in profusion along railway tracks, turns out to be a beautiful, interesting plant close up. I find myself guilty, of late, of not taking the time to look at some of the more mundane plants that grow in my area, north of Markham, Ontario.

This is a prime example. I’ve seen vast patches of Garlic Mustard but never taken the time to really look at it.  I’m learning daily to appreciate the little things, which surprise me, when given time.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/400 sec, f/16.0 ISO 400

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“Allegheny Foamflower”

“Allegheny Foamflower - Tiarella cordifolia”

Tiarella condifolia

The above is another of what I categorize as the ‘second’ wave of spring blossoms. This, like the others I’m posting are predominantly white. The foamflowers are quite abundant this year. I really had no idea how beautiful they were till I got in close.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/80 sec, f/16.0 ISO 400

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“Broad Leaved Toothwort”

“Broad Leaved Tooothwort - Cardamine piphylla

Cardamine piphylla

With rainy days, busy workdays, as well as event filled weekends, I seem to have missed several days of spring blossoms. Despite this, the ‘next wave’ of blossoms is now starting to show. These tend to be primarily white flowers, starting with trilliums, which are well advanced as I write this.

These Toothworts are plentiful, yet I seem to have overlooked them in previous years, unless this is an exceptional cycle for them?

I’ve made a point, since photographing wildflowers, to research the names and habits of the flowers I photograph as well as to expand my ability to visually identify them. Fortunately, I have lots of books and online resources available, though I’m finding many books have sadly inadequate photos to help me identify the plants. I’ve also joined a local group of amateur field botanists, where I can post photos and ask for help in identification and hopefully, be able to provide good photos to the group for their own enjoyment.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/40 sec, f/18.0 ISO 400

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“Wild Ginger and Blossom”

“Wild Ginger and Blossom”

“It’s life that matters, nothing but life—the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Oddly enough, I’ve gone out looking for these and stepped over them, not making teh connection. Yet, this past weekend while photographing a group of Wake-Robins, I noticed this fuzzy broad leafed plant with a little ‘bud’ or nodule at the base. Curious, I took a closer look and noticed that the ‘bud’ was actually an unopened flower. When I got back home I looked at one of my plant books and discovered that this was, if fact, the elusive Wild Ginger I had been looking for.

So, today at lunch, I made the quick walk to the forest and re-visited the plants, to be pleasantly surprised that the flowers were in bloom. How I could have missed them in the past still puzzles me, but as I looked around, I noticed that this small grove  is quite limited in size. I’ll have to get back out on the weekend and see if I can find some more.

In the meantime, I am quite happy to have found them and be able to document their unusual blossoms, which are quite firm and bulb-like. The petals, similar to the Wake-Robin are a dark red to maroon colour, similar to flesh. This seems to be a common trait with some early blooming wildflowers which are pollinated by flies. The flower looks like a piece of meat. I did not stoop down to sniff them.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/115 sec, f/16.0 ISO 400

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“Blue Cohosh Buds and Flowers”

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
― Anne Frank

A few days a ago I went to a large grove of these early spring bloomers for a few more shots of the unusual tiny purple flowers. This particular grove contains thousands of these plants and the forest floor almost looks burnt with the density of Cohosh growing here, interspersed with freshly emerging trillium and wild leeks.

I had no idea just how complex the structures were until I started shooting them with my 90 mm macro lens and can’t seem to get enough of them.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/50 sec, f/11.0 ISO 100

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“Virginia Spring Beauties”

“Virginia Spring Beauties”

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

One of the unique features about the area that I live is that it is surrounded by pockets of what is known as “Carolinian Forest”, that is, many of the plants and animals in the area can usually be found in the warmer climates of Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio.

This means that I have access to plants and wildlife not normally associated with Canada. I suppose to this point I have pretty much taken that for granted. But now, as I focus more and more on the complex ecosystems within this biosphere, I appreciate it more and more.

I have also become quite attuned to the progressions of these plants. Meaning; when I notice one blooming, I have a good sense when the next species will bloom and start actively looking for them. The sequence begins with Coltsfoot, the first yellow flowers of the season, followed by Blue Cohosh, and the Virginia Spring Beauty pictured above.

Spring Beauties are just that, beautiful, delicate plants with lovely flowers which vary a bit between pink and light purple. Around here, they seem to prefer growing at the base of beech trees. I enjoy them so much because they are the first real show of colour, other than yellow, to emerge from the cover of dead leaves.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/80 sec, f/45.0 ISO 400

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“Forest Floor Companions”

“Forest Floor Companions”

“I am learning my way toward something that will make sense of my life, and I learn by going where I have to go, with whatever companions I am graced.” 
― Dean Koontz

At the base of a dead beech tree, these companions add brightness and life, among the dead and decomposing elements surrounding them.

For some unknown reason, the large beech trees in this local forest all died a few years ago. Many of them are very large and old, so it may just be a cycle, as there are many younger trees thriving in the same area. The die-off started a few years back and most of the elders are gone now, the bark peeling off their massive trunks,  branches falling to the ground with every passing winter. I also suspect a new housing development nearby may have altered the water table, ever so slightly, as to affect the older trees. The forest seems a bit ‘wetter’ than usual.

Yet, among all this death, spring offers her bounty of fresh life, in the form of wildflowers, growing in abundance at the base of these dead trees. There are Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica), also known by some as May Flowers or Fairy Spuds (the roots and flowers are edible), with their bright pink faces and delicate stems. Then there are also Trout Lilies with their mottled leaves and bright yellow flowers. Mixed in among them, though not pictured here are red and white trilliums, to name the most predominant in my area. It seems every year there are more, which is wonderful to see.

To think a few short years ago I would walk these same trails and never notice anything but the white trilliums. There is something to be said for slowing down and just looking. It’s amazing what we can see, if we take the time.

Nikon D800
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

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