Part of enjoying walks in the forest all summer long, is the world of ever blooming wildflowers. We thought we would share some of the wildflowers Lucy has photographed across Canada. As she read up about these plants she learned that many of them are considered noxious weeds, so Lucy labeled them as such. We are learning through this blog that there are so many invasive species all around us, not just the purple loosestrife commonly reported. Later in this blog are planting suggestions of good local alternatives to noxious weeds.
Lucy used her new iPad to identify these plants by opening the photo, tapping on the information button and the “look up” button and the computer labelled each flower for her. Clearly this new iPad is much smarter than her old laptop! Lucy is really still learning the names of the flowers and is trusting the computer to be correct, but apologies if there are some mislabeled. Another app you can put on your phone will identify the flowers as you walk. It’s called SEEK. Have fun enjoying the great outdoors, and smelling the wildflowers!
Invasive Species Centre of Canada Report for 2022
Not all wildflowers are welcome species. Here is how the Invasive Species Centre describes what is invasive and how these plants (and trees and shrubs) are harmful:
Here are a few of the invasive species found in Canada as listed in 2022 by the Invasive Species Centre.
What Can We Do to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species?
First of all it is important to get to know your invasive plants. Some plants like giant hogweed and wild parsnip can cause human health issues though direct toxic effects, and burn your skin, so do not just go out and pull out the plants without knowing what you are dealing with. Practise prevention, by knowing what you are buying as plants and seeds, by never releasing aquarium plants, and by purchasing mulch or soil from a reputable supplier. When landscaping, minimize soil disturbance and retain shade trees to prevent establishment of invasive plants. Burn local firewood, do not move firewood. Recreationally, inspect and clean mud and plants from recreational vehicles, pets, hiking boots and equipment before leaving any site and returning to your home. You can report invasive species to your ministry of natural resources or provincial hotline and share the knowledge locally with your neighbours and others. There are so many more detailed ways to deal with invasive species on your property if they are an issue, and so we encourage reading online.
Just reading about what to plant in Edmonton, the oxeye daisy posted as a wildflower above can harbour crop diseases and choke out other native plants so is not a great plant to have in Edmonton’s ecosystem and is considered a noxious weed or invasive species. As gardeners we are encouraged to plant as many native species in our gardens as we can. In this article called “Plant This Not That” the Edmonton and Area Land Trust suggests the following best choice of plants:
Instead of Creeping Bellflower plant Tall Lungwort
Instead of Himalayan Balsam plant Spotted Jewelweed
Instead of Dame’s Rocket plant Common Yarrow
Instead of Purple Loosestrife plant Meadow Blazingstar
We are called upon to be better stewards of our fragile natural world, even as we are invited simply to be open and present to receiving its wonders, inspiration and healing powers for body, mind, and spirit. “Nurturing nature” flows two ways.
This blog shares various tree-themed snippets that got us noticing, marvelling and contemplating nature and our humanity.
North Vancouver Western Red Cedar
“You are encountering one of the largest and oldest living things on this planet,” he said. “It’s almost like seeing a blue whale or a northern white rhino — this piece of this rich, wild world.” (CBC – https://bit.ly/3aDNMvn)
Imagine a tree so wide it would “barely fit inside the cabin of a Boeing 747”. Astonishingly, this western red cedar, found by biologist Ian Thomas in North Vancouver, B.C., has been alive for 1,000 to 2,000 years.
The tree’s actual diameter is in the process of being officially verified. “According to the University of B.C.’s Big Tree Registry, a tree 5.8 metres in diameter would be the fourth widest on record.”
“The largest trees on Earth by volume, giant sequoias soar upward like natural skyscrapers and are simply mesmerizing in their immensity.”
“These trees have a limited range, though: They’re found only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.” (CNN – https://cnn.it/3z45IIU)
Unfortunately, these awe-inspiring ancient trees are on our radar this week because they are being threatened by the annual event of summer fires in California. Fortunately, as we learn in this CNN article, the Yosemite National Park “and the firefighters on the ground have done as much as possible to protect the trees.”
“The combination of the removal of the hazard fuels and the prescribed burning that we’ve done, with the temporary sprinkler system that is in place, we are confident that’s giving those giant sequoias the best protection available,” Nancy Phillipe, a park ranger with Yosemite Fire, told CNN on Monday.”
” ‘Fire is important, in fact it’s critical for giant sequoias for them to have the seeds come out of the cones, to regenerate the soil, provide habitat for animals. … But it’s these high intensity fires that are causing the damage,’ he said, citing the devastating Creek Fire which consumed nearly 400,000 acres of California’s Sierra National Forest area for several months in 2020.” (CNN – https://cnn.it/3z45IIU)
Fighting Fire with Fire
Fire fighters in Yosemite National Park are using ‘prescribed burning’ as part of their toolkit for protecting the ancient giant sequoias. “Fighting fire with fire,” is also an approach used by indigenous knowledge keepers and fire ecologists, including the Interior Salish Firekeepers Society in B.C., who “set fires to fight wildfires and ‘cleanse’ the land,” as this CBC piece describes – https://bit.ly/3P9ZexJ
“Scientists who study fire say it’s time Canada learns from other fire-ravaged places on the planet that are aggressively using fire to fight fire.”
“Cultural or Indigenous burning to mitigate wildfires is seeing a resurgence from California to Australia as the climate crisis makes summers hotter and drier, upping the ferocity of wildfires.”
“Gilchrist says setting controlled fires helps reduce fuel for wildfires where the land is so dry little rots.”
“Traditionally, Indigenous fire keepers — often a hereditary position — lit fires to clear debris that can fuel angrier fires. This was done to renew crops and grazing land and for safety. Examples of the practice can be found around the world.” (CBC – https://bit.ly/3P9ZexJ)
Nobel Peace Prize – Wangari Maathai
We are inspired by the actions of one woman, Wangari Maathai, which ultimately have given rise to the Green Belt Movement (GBM) to plant over 51 million trees, and along the way, impacted the path of Kenyan history for empowering communities, especially women and girls, and “fostering democratic space and sustainable livelihoods.”
“Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree.…Wangari Maathai was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976-87 and was its chairman in 1981-87. It was while she served in the National Council of Women that she introduced the idea of planting trees with the people in 1976 and continued to develop it into a broad-based, grassroots organization whosemain focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life.” (nobelprize.org biographical – https://bit.ly/2V0KR5Y)
The inspiring story and journey begun in 1977 of Professor Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Noble Peace Prize (2004), is profiled in this 8-minute YouTube video produced in 2022 and available as part of “Plant Seeds for Peace” Lesson Plans on the Nobel Peace Center’s website —
“What I Learned from the Trees”– L. E. Bowman poetry
GoodReads review – “What I Learned from the Trees delves into the intricate relationship between humans and nature, and how these often overlooked, everyday interactions affect us as individuals, families, and communities. With a backbone rooted in primordial imagery and allegory, and a focus on how the growing disconnect with our own wants, needs, and fears creates deeper divides in our relationships, this collection is notably relevant to today’s society and the struggles we face with the ever-expanding detachment between humans and the natural world…” (GoodReads – https://bit.ly/3PJFzF1)
From the opening page – food for body, mind, and spirit —
“Trees speak in a language of whispers,
of subtle glances, of flickering light.
All quiet and stillness and somehow still dancing.
All reaching down, digging deep,
and somehow still moving closer to the sky.
Their language isn’t complicated,
but we can’t seem to learn it.
The simplicity is daunting,
The gentleness difficult for a human to grasp.
The understanding that just being is our purpose.
The realization that existing is enough.” (L. E. Bowman)
From the backcover and one of the collection’s closing poems:
“Have you ever seen dust dancing in sunbeams?
How it glistens like flecks of gold?
Maybe that is the true alchemy.
Not changing what something is,
but seeing it in a new light.” (L.E. Bowman)
The old growth forest of Hemlock trees that need protection at Catchacoma Lake, Ontario.
What is the True Value of a Tree?
CBC What on Earth recently posted an article/podcast called “What is the True Value of a Tree?” So far trees are priced not including their environmental benefit value, and some say this needs to change. To read this article go to Whatonearth@cbc.ca