Friday, September 27, 2013

A Few Things....

 Well, only two.

You've heard me talk about the Shaw Woods. It's a very special place, with an old-growth maple/beech/hemlock grove, huge glacial erratics, a pine plantation, a steep rock ridge, nesting Eagles..... and now, trails and interpretive signage for visitors.

On October 6th, a week this Sunday, the Woods will host a series of guided public tours. One hike will concentrate on nature photography, with an experienced photographer sharing his tips to improve your photography, another will be specially geared for families with children, and others will offer short or long hikes to suit every interest and fitness level.

Shaw Woods is less than 90 minutes west of downtown Ottawa, near Cobden. Getting there is simple - just take the 417 (which becomes Hwy. 17) West to Cobden, turn left at the traffic lights on to Eganville Road/County Road 8, turn right at the stop sign 12.3km later onto Bulger Road, and look for the parking lot at 2065 Bulger Road. There will be signs!

You do have to pre-register and it does cost $10 per person, but the money is for a good cause, building a shelter for school programs to use when they visit Shaw Woods.

You can get more information, and register, at Shaw Woods.

I'm looking forward to it - signed up for the Long Hike - hope I can walk that far.....


 I'm getting some feedback about my little quiz about Fall Fruits. Not all of it good! So I'm giving you the answers here, but I warn you now, next year I'm going to make it hard!

In order:  1. Hairy Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum pubescens. There are two very similar wild Solomon's Seals; you can tell this one by the short hairs along the veins on the undersides of the leaves. OK, maybe I can see why nobody got this one.
                2. Cedar cones. A bumper crop this year! The squirrels love them and the ground under some of the cedars (Eastern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis) is a carpet of short fans of foliage with cones attached.
                 3. Cranberry, Viburnum triloba. My bushes are so filled with berries that the branches are bent down to the ground.
                  4. Aha, gotcha. Maybe that was tricky of me, sorry. These are the fruits of the elegantly named (not) Horsemint or Wild Coffee, Triosteum aurantiacum. The flowers aren't much, small and dingy purple, but the fruits are quite showy and the bush itself has presence. It gets about 3' tall and has large yellowish-green leaves. Easy to grow, but will flop if it is growing in easy conditions. Neglect is the answer.
                   5. Riverbank Grape, Vitis riparia. There are other species of wild grapes, but we only have this one. The others grow south of here. The berries are too sour to eat, but make great jelly. 
                   6. Doll's Eyes, or White Baneberry, Actaea pachypody. Sorry, I know it has been re-named but I can't find it's new name just now. The berries look spooky and can cause serious stomach upsets but taste so bad nobody is ever going to eat a second one.
                   7. Spikenard, Aralia racemosa. These have been huge this summer! One in my Sampler Garden is about 6' tall and 8' across. I have to salute and click my heels together before it will let me by on the path. It's sort of neat how the berries ripen - one cluster at a time in a random sequence.
                    8. False Solomon's Seal, Smilacina racemosa. It doesn't seem quite fair to call something after what it is not, but there we are. The flowers are pretty in the spring, and have a strong lemon scent. The berries stay long after the leaves turn yellow and give a welcome touch of colour in the woodland.
                    9. A Red Trillium berry. T. erectum is the only one with a dark purple-red berry. This particular berry has a hole in the top and somebody (wasp? ant?) has removed all the seeds.
                    10. The beautiful laquered red berries of Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. These are so acrid nobody will eat even one. If you plant the whole berries the seeds germinate in the spring. If you clean the seeds off it seems they have trouble germinating, so just plant the whole shebang and step back.
                      11. Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides. The flowers come very early and are nearly black, small, but black, but the berries are beauties. The foliage isn't bad either, a neat clean shrubby thing about 2' high all summer.
                        12. This is the trickiest one, but the one most of you knew! Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. The leaves are a deep wine-red in the fall. The fruits, so oddly arranged on their stalks, have that sort of ugliness which is cute.

Sadly, nobody dared try to win the mug. We'll do it again next fall, and you have all winter to study!

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