Pontaderia invasion

The Pontaderia cordata in the pond is in full bloom at the moment and looking gorgeous at the foot of the waterfall.  For some reason it’s common name is pickerell weed, but I prefer Pontaderia.

Interesting factoid:  “The flowers of the species are tristylous, meaning the styles of individual plants occur in three different morphs, with most populations containing all three”.

20160721-001 20160721-002


We have a well-established clump of Vervain growing in the garden that on hot days like today (32degC/feels like 42C) is bursting with flowers and attracts all sorts of insects … including, sadly, the evil Japanese beetles.

Another of those muck-and-mystery herbal cure-alls, a claim one can take with a pinch of salt, but better than that (quote): “Vervain is a vampire’s most well-known weakness. If a vampire makes physical contact with vervain in any form, it will burn them. If a human ingests or holds vervain somewhere in or on the body (such as holding it in a hand or pocket, or wearing it in jewelry), the human is protected from vampire compulsion and entitled to free will.”  So if you are troubled by vampires this summer, feel free to drop by.

Cultivated vervain

Cultivated vervain


... with Japanese beetle attendant

… with Japanese beetle attendant

Wildflowers in the Garden

Wildflowers but not “weeds”.

There are two interesting plants here for consideration today. The tall, yellow one is a Toadflax, but it’s hard to know which species. It seems probable (ie: it ticks all the boxes) that it is Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) also known as ‘butter and eggs’ – technically it is an invasive plant with a bullying habit but as it was introduced to the continent from Eurasia sometime in the 1600s for medicinal purposes, I rather think we can assume it has made its home here.

The orange flowered plant is a milkweed and possibly Butterflyweed (Asclepia tuberosa) which is a native milkweed that we acquired from a friend who has been cultivating it along with other milkweeds for the purposes of helping out the monarch butterflies.  In this north-eastern part of the continent this is the specific milkweed that Monarchs lay their eggs on and which the caterpillars feed on.  It is supposedly difficult to transplant once established, but we succeeded!

Yellow Toadflax

Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)


Butterflyweed (Asclepia tuberosa)

England 2016 – a Photographic Sampler

Although not a birding trip, there are birds to be seen; rather more often there are gardens and vistas. The first ten days or so of May were spent visiting friends and family in England. Let it be said that this post is for our own amusement and reference but it has wider appeal, we know, so read on … be assured that the number of photographs have been carefully selected and drastically reduced in number from the rather greater number actually taken.

As usual, click any thumbnail image in a set to open up a full size version. Some images have captions that will pop up as you mouse over them.


Stop Number One – Hertfordshire

A few days with friends who go back to college days in the late sixties included the world’s most desirable greenhouse, the worlds most amazing, ancient bluebell wood, two “open gardens” and a graveyard. Something for everyone.


Stop Number Two – Huntingdonshire & Cambridgeshire

This was our old home for 25 years before coming to Canada and so there were many friends to catch up with, two RSPB bird sanctuaries to check out (Fen Drayton and Fowlmere), the morris side (Fenstanton) we danced with for many years and the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge.


Stop Number Three – Berkshire

Time for a family visit to a small town west of London that included some good pub meals and the Saville Gardens outside Windsor






Morris Dancing with old friends – life before birding

For some 20+ years we both used to dance and play the concertina for Fenstanton Morris, I did a lot of dance teaching too … but then I departed for Canada, life moved on and the birds moved in. On May 4 we were having a short vacation in England and visiting some old friends from those days who arranged for us to spend a happy evening catching up and doing some clumsy dancing (one gets stiff without regular practice). I used to be a good bit fitter when I did this every week and my hair was less white too so now, instead of capering I write about capering.

I know most of my Canadian friends have only the faintest, haziest idea of what English traditional dance forms are all about so, in the spirit of cultural enlightenment, here are a collection of photographs taken that evening together with four videos of the side performing. If anyone wants copies of any of this, just get in touch.

Four videos of Fenstanton Morris are below followed by a set of photographs:

…. and here are the photographs. Click any thumbnail to open a gallery at full size.

Earth Day in Baie-D’Urfé

I got myself involved in organising the town’s Earth Day events this year … and it has gone very successfully. We based ourselves in the Red barn near the lakeshore, the sun shone, free trees given away by the town for gardens got people out (lines were forming shortly after 8:30am to claim the best) in droves. There were information tables from local environmental and conservation groups such as Bird Protection Quebec, the Garden at Fritz, the Green Coalition and several others and well attended illustrated talks were given on home composting, native trees and wildlife in the town. At the end there was an official launch of the town’s new programme for collecting green waste and diverting it from the landfill (another initiative that has involved me as chair of the environment committee).

Very successful – and the sun shone too.

(click on any thumbnail below to view the pictures at full size)