My Photo Journal: Signs of Spring at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
Mark Twain

Well, yesterday was a wild one, weather wise. Rain, slush, a smattering of snow that I thought was going to turn into hail... Yet somehow, I felt more cheerful than I would have even if I had encountered the same conditions a month and a half ago (when I thought winter would never end).

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
Doug Larson

No kidding, Doug! Isn't spring wonderful? Here are a couple of shots of emerging peony shoots at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden that I took last year. I haven't been back there yet to take pictures of them this year because it's been so wet and windy but I think I might just try today. The sun is out and I feel like whistling as I meander down some peony paths...

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My Photo Journal: Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily or Adder's Tongue)

Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn.
Terri Guillemets

I took the picture above while on a family walk at Toronto's G. Lord Ross Park, located in the West Don River valley north of Finch Avenue. This is a great park for a long walk with the dog as it has an extensive nature trail. We especially love it in the spring when you can see the vegetation coming back to life and in the fall for the amazing colours on the trees!

Also called adder's tongue, the yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) is one of the earliest wildflowers you will see in spring, sometimes appearing even while there is still snow on the ground. This particular picture is somewhat unusual because it shows the flower with its head tossed confidently back, unlike its usual tendency of nodding shyly on its thin, gangly stalk, its face hidden away from you. Since the blooms are diminutive and shrink timidly into the embrace of deep layers of dead leaves, you really have to look closely to detect this ephemeral wildflower. You will have better luck locating it by looking for its green and brown spotted leaves that makes the plant look like it has tied an army jacket around its waist!

Here is a wonderful article on this little flower's name origins and how to propagate trout lilies in your backyard garden from the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Have you ever spotted this plant? Leave a comment and let us know!

© 2020 All rights reserved. (Originally published in 2016.)

My Photo Journal: As Maples Bloom

The maple trees are in full flower in Toronto, lighting up the surroundings with their sunny blooms. Individually, these flowers are small, barely even covering the palm of my 3 year-old daughter's hand. Collectively, they shroud each maple tree in a cloud of golden yellow and can be extremely striking from a distance. These flowers mature into maple "keys" which soar easily when the winds blow them helter-skelter, and are great fun for kids as they fling these "helicopters" and watch them spin through the air. Probably not as much fun for an ardent gardener as these keys take root very easily wherever they land!

I really liked the Rainer Maria Rilke quote that I used in the second picture, and tried to find the poem where it was supposed to have been taken. After scouring the Internet, I discovered that he never actually wrote those exact lines! The closest version I could find was a translation by Robert Temple of the following stanza from "The Sonnets to Orpheus":
Spring has come again.
The Earth is like a child that has learned to recite a poem;
No, - many, many.
And for the difficulty
Of learning them now, the prize is bestowed.

It was quite disconcerting, in a way, and I wondered if I should use the more accurate translation. In the end, I decided to leave the quote as-is since it appears quite frequently in popular quotation databases, and I felt that the sentiment suited the image nicely! Let's just chalk it up to poetic licence! :)

© 2019 All rights reserved. (Originally published 2012.)