Sunday, July 20, 2014

Castillejas, Evergreen Road, July 11, 2014

Back to my favourite local population of Castillejas! The only species listed for my immediate area is C. miniata, but there are several other species in the foothills, and/or farther north/south. It has been suggested that this population (and there are apparently others like this) represents some type of natural hybrid- even though it seems the species would have crossed some distance away, and the hybrids spread on their own (since there are no other species close by, at least not that I have seen).
Whatever they are, they show a very interesting range of colours- typical miniata salmons, corals and scarlets, through pinky-true reds to near white, near yellow, and bi/tri colours.
They are growing at this site at the edge of a fairly mature mixed but mostly poplar woodland, among and beside young trees. I assume if the woody cover continues to mature, the plants under the saplings will become shaded out, but they have room to expand farther into the grassy area toward the road, where saplings were cleared a couple of years ago- assuming that area is not sprayed for weeds too much by the county.
This is a wonderful site, with many other common and locally uncommon flowers of woodland and woodland edge/meadow. For more photos , check out this album

Later I will add another album with more of the other plants at this site.
Here are some close-ups. Most of the plants fall into the normal colour range for miniata, but of course the ones that do not are more interesting to me!

Hard to capture the true pinks and reds for me, but this is close..

Love this colour.

Nearly white, some of my favourites.

Probably the best yellow I saw.

These mixed colours are especially fascinating.

There are a few of these nearly/ yellow. A couple of the likely candidates for the hybrid with miniata are yellow species..

A few overviews of the site.
The really intense truer reds  and real pinks (vs orangey) are also not that common.

Standard colours- salmon/coral/orangey through scarlet- still predominate here, though there are plenty of the others.

Standard colours- salmon/coral/orangey through scarlet- still predominate here, though there are plenty of the others.

As you can see, all the colours grow together. I've collected and distributed seed several times, but have not yet grown any myself, so no idea how common the non-standard colour seedlings are.

Hard to see in this shot, but the Castillejas are just in front of and among the small trees and shrubs.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Flowers

Nothing new here, these are reliable favourites on the windowsill, but always nice to see them flowering, especially now in early spring when the outdoor garden is more hope than fact....
Aloe 'Lizard Lips' a miniature hybrid; Haworthia sp. (not the one behind the flowers), Weingartia, 2 no-name plants,Orbea umbomboensis.

This one is a less frequent flowerer, but usually gives a couple of flowers per year (they do a lot more under better and brighter conditions): Gymnocalycium baldianum; The flower wasn't open when I made this post earlier, but later when I was outside I saw it open and photographed         through the window!    


Sunday, December 4, 2011


One of the things I miss about city life is the night. Not so much 'nightlife' though that was very important to me in the past, I was not going out that much for a few years before I left the city. Simply being out walking around after dark. I have always tended to be up late, and while I love the sun and daylight, I also love the dramatic and fractured light and shadow of streetlights, neon, houselights and shoplights and the way they illuminate (or not) buildings, trees, streets, water, snow, people.....
Here, when its dark out, its dark out! We have lights on the outside of the house, which are sufficient to bring in wood, see if the cat's outside, walk over to mom's house, but not much more, and really there isn't anyplace to go at night- I'm not going to stroll into the bush or off down the gravel roads in the dark.
Snow actually makes the night less dark- moonlit nights become bright enough to see some distance in the open! and house lights extend their reach much further with the great white reflector on the ground. There still isn't much reason to be out at night, but on occasions when I've stepped out for firewood or to do a little snow shovelling near the house, I've stopped to marvel at the glittering of a million diamonds on the ground and draping the trees. You'd think I'd want to take photos,  but I've been too lazy to play around with tripods and extended exposures and never used flash much- so really, once the sun goes down, my camera goes to bed! Recently, my housemate was out early shovelling and took some flash photos which were kinda cool- lighting up the snow-covered trees, so I thought I'd try my hand, and went out after dark on a snowy night..
Some of the images are quite fun, especially while its snowing, and the flash catches individual flakes- the trees seem to be floating amongst the stars! Many of the images have an intriguing flatness, more like an engraving than a photograph...
Here are a few, full album at:

many are unaltered, a number are cropped, and just a few enhanced for contrast....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alberta Rocky Mountains, May 31, 2011 sets E,F

After Abraham Lake, the road continues on deeper into the mountains, towards the Banff National Park boundary, and the Saskatchewan River Crossing, where Highway 11, The David Thompson Highway, which has brought us all the way from home (running more or less east/west, though that varies in the mountains), ends at the junction with Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, running between Banff and Jasper townsites, more or less north/south.

Typically we stop for some very expensive, mediocre quality refreshments at The Crossing- restaurant, cafeteria, pub, gift shop, motel, gas. All we've ever taken advantage of are the cafeteria, mainly, gift shop, occasionally, and gas, rarely...

A little roadside lake/pond that has a nice assortment of interesting plants, a bit later in the season- just getting started now.

Parking lot with a view at The Crossing.

The Crossing
Full album:

After the crossing, the Icefields Parkway heads north, mostly following valley level at a not very high elevation, until it reaches one massive switchback and suddenly climbs to a level not far below treeline. Up there, May 31 is still early spring, with only a few of the earliest plants active.

Halfway around the switchback.

One of a couple of stops at the top of the switchback, where you can look back down at where you came from, and out across the valleys in a couple of directions..

Among the few active plants this early, a pussywillow, Salix sp
Among the few active plants this early, Fragaria virginiana- flowering from  home all the way up!
Among the few active plants this early, Taraxacum sp. at this altitude, maybe a native?

Behind the viewing area, a wooded section with a  small waterfall; some nice plants back here in summer, but still under snow!

Snow well below tree-line still..

Arriving at the Columbia Icefield.
Full album:

Alberta Rocky Mountains, May 31, 2011 set D

 Another spot we've stopped a couple of times, still along Abraham Lake, this almost hidden turn-off is a little 'toe' of the mountain that has been cut off by the highway carving through. Although not a large area, there is a nice range of plants, some typical of higher elevations growing on the limestone bedrock, and plants common through the foothills and montane zones growing in sections of the site with deeper soil.

Androsace chamaejasme, occurring at a wide range of altitudes in some pretty dry and exposed  locations 

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi; an extremely widespread species- occurring in the mixed-forest  zone bordering the prairies, dryland habitat, and even up to alpine sites; several subspecies..

Dryas integrifolia; much less common than the common D drummondii, but still quite widespread; I think  this is my favourite Dryas, on account of the tiny pretty leaves.

Potentilla sp. there are a number of plants at this site, in flat gravelly soils as well as this crevice dweller; I haven't been there for full bloom on all of the plants.

Eriogonum - id'd  as E androsaceum (not by me) there are a number of plants at the site, though hard to see in summer colour- in fall they are an almost shocking pink; I've never been there for significant flowering..

Perhaps surprising at this rather dry site, but there are some extensive colonies of Viola adunca.
 Full album with more pics of these and others:

Still at the same site, a separate album for a couple of Brassicaceae family plants I have not identified:

A tiny thing! (see next photo, different plant, same species)  maybe Lesquerella sp?

Still a smallish plant, but huge compared to the previous! Also  unnamed by me...

Finally for this site, views and mountain sheep! The sheep come down to these lower altitudes fall through spring, moving up, up and away when the snow goes and alpine plants grow! They spend quite a bit of time in this relatively dry winter montane zone- you can see droppings in many places, and certain plants, such as the small sedges, are clearly cropped low..
View away down the highway, you can see a simila slope coming down on the right.

Sections of the site are bare rock like this or open gravel/scree; some are natural to the mountain, others probably scraped/dug during road construction.

You can see here the variations between deeper  soils, wind deposited  and built up onsite by sedges etc and areas of bare rock, gravel.

Looking out over Abraham Lake (man-made lake from a hydro-electric dam)

Looking down from the higher part of the site, parking area in the middle, grassy area with sheep hanging out below, then rocks leading down to the lake.

Grassy area with sheep hanging out in the lower part of the site.