Lily Lion Heart

Monday, 29 April 2013

Hepatica- Liverwort

I adore Hepatica. They are one of the harbingers of Spring, in the month of April. They are lovely to watch as their flowers form at the base of the plant, and then slowly mature, and unfurl revealing their hairy inflorescences. The colours are lovely, but what I really enjoy are their anthers. They are so delicate, and ethereal. Hepatica acutiloba and americana are native wildflowers. Hepatica transsilvanica from Eastern Europe blooms in March, however I have two colour forms, the first is a lighter purple in my post dated April 7th, and the 2nd is this deep purple form, which blooms a bit later. As the flowers finish blooming, the leaves which resemble the shape of the liver appear, hence the genus name Hepatica.

Hepatica acutiloba

Hepatica americana

Hepatica transsilvanica dark blue form

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ferraria crispa v. nortieri

Ferraria is genus in the Iridaceae family. There are approximately 15 species mainly growing in winter rainfall region. Their range extends from the southern tip of the African continent at Cape Agulhas to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in tropical Africa. They have deep-seated corms, and are grown for their wildly coloured, and ephemeral blooms. Although the flowers of the Ferraria genus are generally described as foul smelling, crispa has vanilla-scented blooms. Mine has bloomed for the first time, and next year should be even more buds. This for me, is one of the most bizarre, and beautiful flowers I have ever seen. They resemble a starfish, and have beautiful crinkly petals like a woman's ruffled blouse. The petals are brown, maroon, almost black, cream, or pale yellow, with a variety of stripes, blotches, and speckles. This August-September I return to South Africa to the Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Namaqualand. I can't wait to see them in habitat.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere

I just passed the most splendid weekend! Where do I begin? Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is a sensory experience of sights, sounds, and colours. It is one of the most beautiful things to behold, the colour of the sky, the lengthening days. I could go on...

 I went birding yesterday, despite bitter cold, and high winds. I felt as if the wind was going to blow me right off one of the promontories of Lake Ontario. This is the best time to see birds ,as many have flown north from their southern latitudes to breed. Their plumage, behaviour, and songs indicate their intentions. I saw the usual waterfowl species , and never tire of watching them. A Mute Swan was incubating her eggs, while flocks of Cormorants flew over. What was very special was the Common Loon, and the Red-Necked, and Horned Grebes that have arrived to breed.

Today, was another cold day, but winds were calm, and the sun shone. I was potting up some alpines, and my summer growing South African bulbs. My backyard was teeming with bird life. The Downy Woodpeckers were pounding on the trees extracting insects. Northern Flickers were busy. This is one of the only North American Woodpeckers that will forage on the ground for invertebrates. The Cardinal was serenading me all day. Eastern Phoebes were here, birds that I have not seen in  many years,  various warblers, robins, and red-winged blackbirds were all engaged in a flurry of activity.
I enjoyed the power of the suns rays, and closed my eyes as the sun washed over me, warming me. A sea of red washed over me.

God It feels good to be alive! Some garden images taken today.

Draba aizoides

Hepatica acutiloba
Jeffersonia dubia emerging

Synthris missurica

Dionysia involucrata 'alba'

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Tussilago farfara -Coltsfoot

This is one of Ontario's native plants, albeit introduced from Europe. It has a wide range in Eastern North America, and blooms in Spring. It is a rhizomatous plant with 1 yellow flower head atop a scaly stalk. I look forward to seeing them emerge each year as they have such as intense, rich yellow colour only opening with the sunshine. The common name 'Coltsfoot' refers to the supposed resemblance of the leaf to a colt's foot. They can be invasive , however swathes of them are quite welcoming to see. The leaves are produced once the flowers goes to seed. The Latin name 'tussis' (cough) alludes to the plants reputation as a cure for coughs. An extract of fresh leaves can be used for making cough drops, and the dried leaves can be steeped for tea.