Autumn in the Gatineau Hills

Autumn in the Gatineau HillsThe fall colours are spectacular, as always. This is a scene in the Gatineau Hills, north of Ottawa. The temperature got up to 25 degrees today, which is a record high for October 14. Much of the day was spent gardening and landscaping — putting things to bed for the season, and anticipating great things for the garden for next year. All in all, a beautiful day.

A Garden Visitor

Mushroom at Mont CascadesWith any skill or field of knowledge, there is always a greater expert than you. Take this mushroom, for instance. There are people who can walk through the woods, and tell at a glance if a mushroom is edible, inedible, or poisonous … a useful talent! I don’t have it, but my dear Nana did. She learned all about mushrooms — and much practical wisdom besides — while growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and from her parents, who were immigrants from Galicia (now Ukraine). The mushroom you see in the photo here was a visitor to the garden at Mont Cascades.

A Bountiful Harvest

A Bountiful HarvestBehold the cornucopia of the urban gardener! My balcony planter, containing yellow waxed beans, will provide me with sustenance for hours, at least, as you can see. I actually consider my modest crop to be admirable, emerging as it did surrounded by concrete, asphalt, glass and brick, and far away from any real farm that grows what sustains us in our cities. By the way — delicious!

The white trillium, floral emblem of Ontario

Trillium grandiflorumThe white trillium is the floral emblem of Ontario. It is on my driver’s licence, and appears in many other places as the logo of the government of my native province. This beautiful three-petal wildflower grows in deciduous forests throughout eastern North America, particularly where maple trees are common, and is a harbinger of spring. We often say that when the trilliums come in it is the start of black fly season, and when they go out it is the start of mosquito season!

If you look carefully at the tip of the right-most petal of the trillium in this photograph, you will see a bothersome black fly — quite apropos. I actually found this specimen on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Because the maple-dominated deciduous forests in which trilliums thrive are threatened by urbanization, the trillium is listed as “vulnerable” by the province of Quebec. A web page on the vulnerable status of the “trille blanc” (in French) is here.

An Urban Garden

An Urban GardenEven in the middle of the “concrete jungle” nature can thrive, given the slightest encouragement. A tiny oasis has emerged on my balcony this summer. House plants that survived the curtailed light of winter have their reward in the long sun-filled days we now enjoy; herbs have sprouted and now are providing a fresh addition to tasty salads; and native wildflowers and grasses poke up from odd corners of pots and planters.

Here is a resident of my urban garden that I cannot identify. It is supposed to be a native eastern Canadian wildflower, but I am open to the possibility that an exotic interloper has found its way into my balcony planter. As you can see, it is now (in mid/late-August) sprouting these beautiful midnight blue flowers with pointed petals. The bees have already discovered it, and are happily gathering its pollen. I am only an enthusiastic amateur gardener, and I am sure that some expert out there can set me right about this unexpected but delightful wildflower that has made its home amidst the brick and concrete of downtown Ottawa.