Monday, September 30, 2019

Woolly Bears

This was a good year for Woolly Bears. It was also a relatively good year for White Admiral and Monarch Butterflies. I saw a bunch of woolly bears on the trail up to Lusk Caves yesterday.

Bats aren't supposed to live in the Lusk Caves but even so the informational panel advised us to wash footwear and clothing to avoid spreading the White Nose Syndrome. I was happy to see a couple of bats along the berm earlier this year so I'll give those shoes a bleach treatment. Can't hurt.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

High Summer

This summer the sumac has grown gang busters. It has filled in the 2009 planting area so much that I've abandoned many of my old paths around the bushes and trees in favour of passing under the sumac. It looks like the sumac has also convinced the mowers to abandon mowing around some of the crabapples. This is the second summer that the mower hasn't attempted to mow around these trees.

I planted a Manitoba Maple out in the 2011 planting area today that I had rescued from my lawn earlier this year. The ground was surprisingly dry for what has been a relatively wet July. Hopefully he does well there. The 2011 trees had a drought their first year and the area has remained much more open than the other areas. I think the winter winds and road salt may also have a greater effect in the 2011 area as it is relatively exposed.

This coneflower is I believe the lone survivor of a packet of wildflower seeds I planted a couple of years ago. I was surprised to find it this year.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


This truck mud flap has got to be the heaviest piece of wind blown trash I've ever found. It weighed about 20 pounds and was about 80m from the road in the middle of a thicket of buckthorn tangled up with a scrap of tarp. I figure it must have been blown there in the tornado last fall as there is no way a person would have carried it into that thicket.

This spring picking up trash suddenly became trendy. According to the Clean-up-the-Capital website, over a thousand groups organized clean-up events in and around Ottawa this spring. It is great to see this activity picking up popularity, and I feel like Ottawa really did an excellent job cleaning the place up after 5 long months of winter. I've been picking up trash for years along HuntClub Road and this May was the first time I came back with only a half full bag because there just wasn't enough trash.

A sparrow is raising a family in my birdhouse! I put up the birdhouse in the fall of 2016 and this spring is the first time I've noticed someone using it. I was walking by it today and the momma bird startled me by bursting out of the house just as I passed it. I heard the faint chirps of the chicks and quickly retreated. I was a bit surprised because I've been on the lookout for activity at this birdhouse and another that was put up last spring and thought that they weren't occupied. Perhaps I should go take a closer look at Katherine's birdhouse.

I spent a bit of time today pulling up Dog-strangling-vine from the patch at the end of Newhaven. I pulled up over 300 plants and there is at least as much still to be done. I've been attacking this patch for several years now and it keeps on coming back. I don't think I've let many go to seed but it doesn't seem to matter. They must be coming back from the roots.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

10 years

It was 10 years ago this May that the first trees were planted by Manordale School kids. The first few years were quite hard on the trees. Some got smothered by the grass, some were girdled by field mice, and some just failed to thrive in their new location. Other trees arrived, either as volunteers or as new transplants. As the years have passed the survivors have established themselves and I have grown to know many of these trees as individuals. Each spring I nervously check to see who was attacked by the darned field mice over winter. I haven't noticed any girdled trees so far this year which would be a first if it holds up. Sometimes the girdling is hidden by grass until later in the summer when the drier conditions make the lack of connection to the roots much more apparent.

10 years of watching this area develop has given me an appreciation of how slowly mother nature can move. Even violets, a nuisance that spreads all over the garden and lawn at home don't spread quickly once you let Mother Nature be the gardener. The violets in the above picture have basically stuck to the same location where I first noticed them 10 years ago. The clump is a bit bigger, but they haven't spread more than a few meters. The trilliums I rescued over a decade ago are still exactly where I planted them. I understand why people are instructed to not pick the trilliums; the great glades of trilliums you can see in the woods each spring are probably the product of centuries of growth. I don't think the little patch I planted can sustain even the odd rabbit who comes by each spring to see if trilliums are tasty.

This spruce tree is one of the surviving seedlings planted by the kindergartners 10 years ago. The child is probably as tall as this sapling now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Red Maples

Female Red Maple Flower

Spring is at a full sprint now. This week-end I snapped pictures of the flowers of a few of the trees in bloom. Initially I thought the above and below pictures had to be two different species of maples, but when I got back to the house to consult the books they turned out to be the male and female versions of red maples.

Male Red Maple Flower

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Melting 2019

15C! It won't take too many more days like today for the snow on the north side of the berm to disappear. When I took a walk there today the snow was practically all slush and I got proper good soakers.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Winter Breaks

There has been lots of snow this winter so I haven't visited the trees much since mid-January. I took this photo around the start of March when the knee deep snow had crusted up and every step was a chore. I imagine the starlings I saw that day hanging out high up in the poplars are more impatient than me for Spring to finally get going. We finally got some melting this week but it will take quite a few more days of melting before we see any bare ground.

Saw my first robin on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Christmas 2018

New Years Day was a lovely day for a walk along the berm with every twig sparkling in the sunshine.

This year the snow and cold arrived in the middle of November and never left. You've got to get out and enjoy the beautiful days that do come.