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Posts Tagged ‘green’

sensitive ferns

Sensitive Ferns

Ferns add a touch of freshness and elegance to Nova Scotia’s forest floors in late spring.  These beautiful green plants can also be found growing along ditches and in rock crevices.

Ferns first appeared on the planet hundreds of millions of years ago and are still thriving.   They reproduce by spores or rhizomes and are quite resistant to disease.  Ferns provide the surrounding soil with mineral nutrients while the structure of their rhizome root systems reduce soil erosion.  The sensitive leaves of these bioindicators are easily damaged by acid rain.

Cinnamon Ferns

Even in Nova Scotia’s temperate climate, ferns can grow to several feet in height.  Their leaf litter is so great that mounds are often formed in forest areas where they thrive from year to year.

polypody ferns

Polypody Ferns

Moisture, shade and acidic soil attract the growth of both ferns and mosses.  Polypody ferns, shown above, crop out of rocks near the salt marsh.

Bracken Ferns

In springtime, many people enjoy eating fiddleheads, the shoots of young ferns.  Ostrich ferns are especially tasty.  However, the safety of bracken ferns, shown above, is questionable.  Its consumption has been implicated in cases of stomach and esophageal cancer, especially in Japan where it is widely eaten.  Water from sources near growths of bracken ferns is also considered suspect.  (For more information on the toxic effect of bracken ferns on water, see The Fatal Fern).

Northern Beech Ferns

Shaded northern beech ferns, shown above, capture bits of sunlight through gaps in the forest canopy.  The effect is enchanting.

In Finland, gathering fern spores on Midsummer’s Eve is believed to give the gatherer the ability to become invisible.  Also, if one was to perchance acquire the elusive fern bloom on this special night, one would be able to uncover the treasure hidden beneath the magical lights of the Will o’ the Wisp.

Even if you don’t believe in the magical powers of ferns, or partake of fiddleheads in spring, they nevertheless make a wonderful contribution to the biodiversity of the forest ecosystem.

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Have you seen the Green Man? His tracks are everywhere these days…  in the yard, in the woods and around the salt marsh.  He’s been busy engaged in activities that are too often attributed to Mother Nature.

From the trail I can see where he’s been doing his business in the woods, carpeting the forest floor.

Even areas with standing dead wood seem to come to life with him around.

The Green Man has been laboring in secret for thousands of years.  Besides greenery, his signature work includes flowers like forget-me-nots that are frequently found growing out of bounds.

Through the ages, he’s been known by many titles, among them Pan, Silvanus, the Wild Man, Skanda and the Green Knight.  But Mystery’s always his middle name.  He’s busy wherever it’s spring and summer on the planet, spreading his seed and encouraging unbridled growth.  His drawn, painted, or  sculptured image is found worldwide in various cultures dating back to ancient times.  His face is often covered with leaves.

Though you may not get to see him in person, you’re probably familiar with his work.  It speaks to all of us who are looking for a rebirth of the spirit (and the garden) at this time of year.

For more information about the Green Man, see Wikipedia’s entry.

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october vines

Overnight winds have pulled many of the leaves off the trees and beaten the vine leaves repeatedly against the bricks.  Many are now on the lawn.  It won’t be long before November’s bareness sets in.  But not yet.  There’s still time for one last look at October’s stunning palette of colours.

vine palette

I’ve taken squares of colour from the photo of vines above to create a palette of hues representational of this time of year.

colour wheelIn art theory, red and green are considered opposite one another on the colour wheel.  These are known as complementary colours.

Some of the vine reds appear purplish and there is also some yellow present.  Purple and yellow is another complementary combination, as is the combination of orange and blue.

blueorangeblueWhether it’s a light or bright blue,  October’s sky contrasts beautifully with orange tinged leaves.  Their warm and fiery hue manages to balance the crisp coolness of the clear blue sky, making autumn seem less chilling.

complementary pairs

When unmuted complementary colours are placed next to each other in a painting, the line between them may appear to vibrate.   Despite the mutedness of some of October’s colours, the juxtaposition of pairs of complementary leaf and sky colours in the landscape still produces a visually vibrant liveliness that exudes warmth and excitement.  No wonder this time of year can inspire so much awe among onlookers.

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front door

The color green evokes a sense of peaceful growth.  Its use on or around a front door enhances a home’s ability to communicate a calming and soothing atmosphere. Although my front door is painted a very light greenish grey, it’s surrounded by much green foliage at this time of year.

Last week, while delivering a package, the postman commented that he would soon need a weed wacker to get through the doorway.  The vine leaves have grown very large and hang low by the front door.  In order to pass through the threshold you have to bow your head.

open door

Having to do this reminds me of a story I once heard  about an East Indian worker who had hung a curtain across the top of the doorway to his office.  It required that he bow down his head whenever he entered his work space.  The act of bowing was a reminder to him to be reverent in his approach to his daily tasks.  There’s certainly room for all of us to integrate more reverence into our lives, both at home and in the workplace.  We so often take for granted the sacredness of home and the work of our hands and minds.

mountain ash

Earlier this spring, I transplanted a mountain ash tree from the backyard to a spot just right of the front door.  This type of tree is very similar to Old World rowan trees which are customarily planted near front doors to ward off evil spirits.

Without words, nature can communicate warmth and welcome in many ways.  Mystery and the wonder of growth are inexorably woven into her message.

However much you knock at nature’s door, she will never answer you in comprehensible words.

~ Ivan Turgenev

For more information on mountain ash, see Rowan Trees.

For more information on vines, see Dragon Claws on Vines.

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green window
The living room window is covered with a curtain of green vines at this time of year.  I feel like I am looking out into the world from the shelter of a forest cover of green.  The layers of Boston Ivy leaves insulate the house from the outdoor heat during these summer months. Later in the autumn, they’ll turn a brilliant red.

To humans, the green wood element refreshes the spirit in springtime and provides food in the summer and fall.   It represents growth and life, attracting and nurturing living creatures within its environment.

If I keep a green bough in my heart,
the singing bird will come.
~ Chinese proverb

wood montage

This montage of images from our scavenger hunt shows how beautiful wood is in all its stages of growth and decay: from young seedling or shoot, to leaf and fruit laden bush or tree, to aged tree stump and driftwood found along the seashore.  It can be pliable but also sturdy.  The wood element thrives with water, is harmed by metal, destroyed by fire and draws its strength from the earth.

Montage images were taken from the Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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red leaf

Five elements are thought to exist in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of interpreting environments.  These are:  earth, water, fire, metal and wood.  Colors are also believed to represent these elements.  In the image above, a blazing red leaf gives the impression of fire. Its fire quality is emphasized even more by its triangular shape which is reminiscent of the tongue of a flame.

stones

Brown garden stones, shown supporting one another above, represent the earth element, a symbol for wisdom.  Along with browns, yellows and oranges also allude to the nurturing earth.  Square shapes emphasize this element even further.  

green stems

The wood element, which symbolizes growth, is ubiquitous in a forest landscape where it is revealed in a variety of greens.  Yet, even near the ocean or in the city, green growth is not difficult to find.  The branch shape in the green floral stems above, found along a salt marsh, underlines the wood element in this image even further.

grey rainbow haven

White, grey, silver and gold reveal the metal element in nature.  Positively, this element can communicate strength and solidity.  Negatively, it can suggest sadness, as in the image above, of an overcast and rainy day at the beach.

Blue Flag Iris

Water can be represented in a landscape by a pond or stream, but also by the presence of cool, dark blues as shown in the Blue Flag Iris at left.  A bed of black tulips planted in the shape of a meander would be especially representational of the water element.

Like nature, color can be both simple and complex.  It never ceases to amaze or arouse wonder in those who seek to understand it better.

This post is written to provide further insight into the relationship between the elements and color in nature, as first introduced in my earlier post about a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
~ Georgia O’Keefe

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In this my green world
Flowers birds are hands
They hold me
I am loved all day
~ Kenneth Patchen

bumblebee
Refreshing rains and sunny skies have transformed the outdoors into a green wonderland. Though you may have seen each type of plant and creature many times before, everything looks brand new and is a joy to behold.  Ferns and small woodland plants cover the forest floor. Each one is so delicate that you hate to crush them beneath your feet as you walk through the woods…

green

june 8
These bright white flowers will transform into perky red bunchberries later this summer.

This year’s new light green growth adorns the evergreen trees. Eaten by deer, hares and squirrels, they are full of vitamin C. Hemlock, balsam fir and spruce needles are all edible and suitable for teas. Simply steep a few tips in a cup of hot water.

new growth
balsam fir
Snowshoe hares dine on the dandelions growing in the lawn.  They eat the green leaves, stems, flowers and puffballs.  I wonder if they taste as bitter to them as they do to us.  Hopefully there will be baby bunnies in the rosebushes again this year.

rabbits in grass2

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mint-and-chives

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.

~ Hal Borland

mountain-ash

April’s promise of spring has unfolded in a flurry of activity this month.  New growth is everywhere:  in the yard and in the woods.  Strawberry flowers are already in bloom along the Salt Marsh trail.  As much as I look forward to this time of year, it still seems to catch me by surprise.  Did I somehow believe it wouldn’t happen?

Bird activity is constant.   The chatter is especially noisy  in the early morning hours.  It’s not unusual to hear a pheasant crowing in the yard at 3:45 am.  Grackles, doves, woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, sparrows and robins hang out around the feeder well past our supper time.

The squirrels are either chasing each other around, eating at the feeder or  scolding intruders.  Their presence is made known throughout the day. 

Spider threads and webs are everywhere in the woods, created in anticipation of the black flies and mosquitoes that are surely going to be out in full force soon.  The insects will also provide food for the baby birds soon to be hatched.  

He that is in a towne in May loseth his spring. 

~George Herbert

spider-threads

red-squirrel

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