Travel Journal

Dunster - May 24-25 - a flora lesson

(Saturday 26 May 2007) by Karin
Wednesday start with bringing all the flower baskets out of the greenhouse where they still spend the nights as do the vegetables. Still night frost so too cold to stay outside overnight. Then a walk over the property with Ernie and a flora lesson.
First the different evergreens: fir, spruce, pine and cedar and how to tell them apart. Spruce needles are under 3 cm in length and 4 sided. They are prickly to the touch, and can be rolled between your fingers. Fir needles grow in singles and are flat, fun and friendly. Pine needles grow in bunches of two to five, and have long stiff needles. And cedar, a coniferous tree, has branches spreading to hanging but upturned at tips. Red cedar is a characteristic species of the Columbian forest. it has been heavily logged for its redwood and is rapidly disappearing in BC as the trees are not replanted.
In the leafy department we found White Birch (also called paper birch) and Trembling Aspen. The bark of the white barch is white, sometimes discolored to grey, always reddish on smaller branches and usually peeling of the trunk in sheets, hence the name 'paper birch'. In the Rockies, birch is not a very tall tree and it looks rather like aspen. Tell the two apart by the peeling birchbark and the leaves. Birch leaves are larger. Trembling aspen is the most common leafy tree in the Rockies. It has a smooth white bark. The bark is alive and photosynthesizes. A powdery white material on the trunk of aspens is produced by the tree as a defense against ultraviolet radiation.
Mountain lady's-slipper
Mountain lady's-slipper

We also found some beautiful Mountain Lady's Slipper, one of the Rocky Mountain orchids, Indian Paintbrush, Arnica, wild strawberries, Common Horsetail and probably a few more that I cannot remember.
In the afternoon we started preparing the vegetable garden for planting and I learned about "harvesting rocks". The annual rock harvest is a crop that farmers could easily do without. However, it is a fact of life for anyone whose acreage happens to lie in a region that was under the weight of glaciers, that is most of Canada. As they scoured the surface of the earth thousands of years ago, the glaciers scooped up any number of stones, rocks and boulders. As the ice retreated, these were deposited hither and yon. Nowadays, the rocks are subject to frost action. Every winter, they heave to and fro; Some break the surface, where they can damage farm machinery and interfere with spring planting. Alas, there is not much you can do but add this year's harvest to the vast piles of rocks and stones from earlier years. Mike, I know you really would like me to bring you some but really, they are too heavy to carry so I just added them on my pile from yesterday, near the barn. Kept me busy for a while.
Today I finally finished pulling and cutting the mint. Got me a nice blister from that. I also continued digging up some rocks to make some space for the sweet peas. Weather was hot and sunny so I enjoyed the outside. What I enjoyed a lot less are those mosquitos. I'm sure they all choose Dunster to vacation. I've never been bitten as many times as here and never used as much insect repellent. They won't leave you alone for a second.
KK
My little birdsnest
My little birdsnest
Bird on nest
Bird on nest
Same bird again, a Dark-eyed junco
Same bird again, a Dark-eyed junco

PS. The birds nest I found has 4 little eggs now. And it is a Dark-eyed junco, belonging to the Oregon race.

 


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