Every morning after I wake up I slip into some sweats, pull on my rubber boots, and take the dog for a walk. Sometimes we meander through the property before heading onto the Trans Canada Trail, a section of which runs alongside the bottom edge of our property. Other times we head to the forest next door. I’ve taken a keen interest in learning about the native plants and trees in this region, and on my walks I mentally identify those I’ve come to recognize, while taking samples of those I haven’t. In winter, when we first arrived, it was harder to identify those without leaves. But now that spring is in full force they are making themselves known. I also like watching the cycle of the seasons begin anew – it’s my first time, too, in this place.
I enjoy reading about the plants and animals other would-be farmers are dealing with on their new properties. Chile chews about life in Arizona, a climate vastly different from my own temperate rainforest. While she is dealing with foxtail on her new acre, Jenna and Jer at No Name Farm have been tackling mesquite and cactus since they bought their 15 acre plot. So I thought some of you might be interested to see what lives in my neighbourhood.
One of the first plants to rear its head in early spring were the Stinging Nettles, which I soon harvested. Next came these interesting subjects:
These are Vanilla Leaf, also known as Deer Foot. Each cluster of three leaves grows on a single tall stalk that rises about 1.5 ft above the ground. They are a lovely pale green and grow in carpets-like patches. When dried, they smell somewhat of vanilla and apparently will repel flies if hung in doorways, etc. I have dried a clump of them, to me they smell not half as lovely as real vanilla, and we’ll see how well they keep the flies away when it’s warm enough for open doors and windows. But they do look very pretty in the ground.
Around this time I also began to notice some flowering plants. This is a Western Trillium, so named because of its three leaves topped by a three-petal flower. They are quite large and, I think, have a primordial look about them:
Another flowering plant that showed itself at this time is Pacific Bleeding Heart. The flowers are interesting in that they form a sort of bubble (the petals spread apart then come together at the tip) which is heart shaped. This specimen is growing up against the skirt of our home, but it is abundant in our woods as well:
We have lots of ferns here. Many are evergreen species but lately I’ve noticed a different kind of fern sprouting from the ground. Here’s a shot of two different species:
The one on the right is a Sword Fern, an evergreen. The fronds grow from ground level. On the left is a Bracken Fern, a deciduous plant. These begin growth as a single stalk that reaches upward from the ground while side branches begin to unfurl. I’ve noticed these for a couple of weeks now and they are getting taller and taller. I read they can reach upwards of 3 – 5 metres!
Also in the last couple of weeks, the Pacific Dogwoods have begun blooming. It is strange to me to see flowering trees here even though I know they are native (the dogwood is the official flower of British Columbia); I’m used to evergreens. They are gorgeous trees when in bloom; we have several in our yard but they are also growing abundantly in our woods. I snapped this photo from a tree that was growing sideways, presumably to catch the sun, but they can grow quite tall:
I’ll finish up with a picture of some of the more mobile residents of our neighbourhood. The elk have returned and are staying longer to feast on the new grass. I snapped this photo yesterday from the end of our driveway: