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Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Waves of purple, pink and white lupins splash across Nova Scotia this time of year.

Their spires decorate the wayside and abandoned fields.

Although they’re not our provincial flower (the mayflower is), their image is often found on postcards and their seeds are sold at shops catering to tourists.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
~ Iris Murdoch

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Violets have been blooming in the woods and yard for the past few weeks. Their time is coming to an end… Soon I’ll be able to mow the lawn without having to worry about cutting them down.

Wild white violets growing in the lawn

They’re so delicate and small that they’re frequently overlooked.  Perhaps it’s their half-hidden shy nature that makes them so endearing.  The Lucy in Wordsworth’s poem must have been a wild violet…

SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh,
The difference to me!
~ William Wordsworth

Tame violets, on the other hand, are a deeper more showy purple with large leaves that are easier to spot in the flower bed.

Tame violets

If you have the patience to pick them, wild violets are edible and an aromatic addition to teas.  They can be dried or eaten fresh.

A violet tea with sponge cake

Violets are a reminder of slower times, when people took a moment to take notice of the gentler arts on a regular basis.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make an effort to take back some of these enjoyable moments, if only each year at Violet Time.

You can learn more about the Manners of Wild Violets in a previous post here.

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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May is one of the best times to see plants in bloom along the Salt Marsh Trail. The experience is not one to miss. Barely visible from the trail, bog rhododendrons, shown above, look rather exotic for these woods.

wild strawberries in bloom

Simpler wild strawberries are in bloom on the ground.  They seem especially numerous this year.

The soft pink of the flowering apple trees is a special treat for the eyes against the dark green of the woods and a bright blue sky.

Pin cherry trees are barely noticeable at other times of the year but right now their blooms allow them to stand out from surrounding greenery.

Up close, an elderberry bloom looks like an ornate chandelier.

Most ubiquitous of all are the delicate service berry blooms.  Unfortunately, they’re the most susceptible to being blown off their branches by strong winds.

Perhaps it’s this quality about them that makes them seem so fragile and ephemeral.  Like springtime itself, they never seem to be around long enough.

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The seasons wait for no one.  In Nova Scotia, this is especially true with our springs and summers, which always seem too short. 

Looking back on a summer that flew by more quickly than most, I notice myself scrambling to find a few small things to take with me into the cooler seasons ahead.   There may not have been any long hot days at the beach to look back on, but that’s ok…

Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

~  Winnie the Pooh 

Children playing in the sunshine, a warm breeze enjoyed while hanging out the laundry and flowers glimpsed coloring the wayside… these are the little things that will still provide warm memories of summer next January. 

Perhaps it’s their vulnerability that endears these small things to us.  Wild roses growing on the edge of a busy road…

Or tiny caterpillars crossing the trail…

Perhaps it’s because the blooming time for many small wild things is limited to just a couple of weeks a year.  

 Come the dark days of November, their presence will seem to have been as fleeting as that of a butterfly.

And the rising summer sun a brief kiss of light.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved,
To have thought,
To have done?
~ Matthew Arnold

This post was inspired by Summertime written by Isabelle at Isathreadsoflife’s Blog.

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maple leaf mandala

Through the ages, mandalas have been employed by Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Native people the world over to create sacred spaces and focal points for prayer and meditation.

seastone mandalaOften painted, they may also be made of stone, colored sand or stained glass, such as in the rose windows found in Gothic cathedrals. Some, like Tibetan sand mandalas, possess an impermanent quality, as their deconstruction is also part of the ritual surrounding their creation.  Mandalas might be intended as representations of the universe, the unconscious self or the relationship between the inner and outer realms. 

Mine are simple creations made with natural materials found in my yard:  leaves, flowers, twigs and tree cones.  The first mandala shown at the top of this post was made from the colorful leaves of a sugar maple and a yellow birch.  The second was created on my gravel driveway from sea smoothed stones gathered near the ocean.

peony leaf mandala

This peony leaf mandala also includes fern leaves, purple asters and two-flowered Cynthia blooms.  A curled up wooly bear caterpillar is at its centre.

fir cone mandala

Above, heal-all flowers have been arranged with balsam fir cones around a mushroom centre.  The creation of each mandala gave me an opportunity to reflect on autumn’s beautiful colours and textures.  I’m thankful to live in a place where nature’s palette is ever changing and fresh.   

My mandalas will slowly fall apart, be moved by the winds or wild creatures, decay and return to the earth.  Their ephemeral quality only serves to enhance their present beauty.

Have you ever considered using natural materials to create a mandala outdoors?

 

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Finding the name of a mystery flower can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  It’s often a  frustrating task.  Where do you start?

If you’re doing an online search, two other keywords besides color can be helpful:

  • A flower’s habitat. Is it growing in a meadow? a pine forest? a bog? on a lakeshore? a seashore?
  • The English or Latin name of the flower’s family. There are 7 floral families (listed below), each with a specific set of characteristics.

yellow small

Mustard Family Cruciferae

– 4 petals
– seedpods follow a radial pattern around the stalk
– pods open from both sides to expose a clear membrane in the middle
– all edible

 

 

 

 

mint smallMint FamilyLabiatae

– 5 united petals
– square stalks
– leaves grow opposite one another
– usually aromatic
– all edible as long as they smell minty

 

 

 

 

beach pea

Pea or Legume Family
Leguminosae

– irregular shaped flowers with 5 petals
– pea-like pods
– pinnate leaves
– vary from being barely edible to barely poisonous

 

 

 

 

star of bethlehem

Lily Family Liliaceae

– flowers with parts in 3s with 6 stamens
– sepals and petals identical
– parallel leaf veins
– produce bulbs
– some edible, some poisonous

 

 

 

 

small pink hollyhock

Mallow Family
Malvaceae

– 5 separate petals
– column of stamens in middle of flower
– moist and sticky texture
– edible

 

 

 

 

oxeye daisy

Aster or Sunflower Family –
Compositae

– composite flowers
– disk-like head
– each petal is an individual flower
– edible

 

 

 

 

lace small

Parsley or Carrot Family
Apiaceae or Umbelliferae

– radially symmetrical (5 petals, sepals and stamens)
– compound umbrella-like design
– usually hollow flower stalks
– many are not safe for eating and can be deadly

 

 

 

You may still have to look at several images before you’re able to find the exact flower, but these keywords should help you narrow your search.  At the very least, you should be able to identify its family.  Good luck!

For more information on floral families, see:
Learning to Identify Plants by Families

For more information on flowers in northern North America, see:
Ontario Wildflower

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