Aflame

The only fire I wanted to see at the weekend – backlit paintbrush in the afternoon.

There’s a campfire ban in BC at the moment, which is fine with me as I don’t really care much for them. It’s much nicer to camp without all the smoke and haze to be honest. I couldn’t help but think of fire when I saw these paintbrush lit by the later afternoon sunshine; fire from the sun, and fire-red paintbrush. What you can’t tell from this photo is how many mosquitoes and black flies I was having to keep at bay while lying face down, shielding the lens from the glare of the sun and trying to keep the camera steady…

A week of glacier lilies

A departure from the usual posting style. Since I saw so many glacier lilies at the weekend, I figured it would be best to combine all those photographs into a single, all-encompassing glacier lily entry. Let the floral overload begin!

We spent the weekend in Manning Park, and found – to my delight – that the glacier lilies were out in force. Here’s one of many in bud we saw last Sunday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops. I was surprised to see them blooming even by the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak, and we were further surprised by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us!

It's that time of year again! The glacier lilies are out in force in Manning Park and should be good for another couple of weeks. Here's one of many in bud we saw yesterday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops (as was our tent!). After all the hard work we put in on Saturday to find some (which paid off handsomely I should add), I was surprised to see them blooming at the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak. Then we were surprised again by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us 🐻 🐻 🙂 Hike reports are on LiveTrails. What a weekend! #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #ManningPark #manningparkresort #ecmanningprovincialpark #bcparks #paintbrushnaturetrail #explorebc #wildflowers #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #ifttt #hikebc #bchiking

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

On Saturday we hiked the Skyline I loop, a 21-km hike with 900+ m of elevation gain. We’d been happily enjoying the wealth of blooms along the trail, but then we entered the last big meadow before turning back towards the car. This might be the most spectacular glacier lily meadow I’ve seen so far! Wow!

A trail runs through it – the path through the vast meadow in the previous photo is barely a boot wide, the glacier lilies and spring beauty doing their best to recolonize it. I looked back at photos I took of this section of the trail in August 2007 and there is no sign of glacier lilies anywhere.

And yet more glacier lilies along the Skyline I trail. There was still a bit of snow in places along the ridge but it’ll soon be gone. I find it amazing how so many can grow and yet all signs of their existence disappear once the main summer bloom gets underway. I’m convinced that most hikers never even see a glacier lily over the summer.

Finally, it’s Flashback-Friday, and I thought I’d finish this week of glacier lily photos with the flower that started it all – my very first glacier lily photo from way back in 2006!

That last shot has a lot to answer for…

The time of flowers

Couldn’t resist going back for another photo session with the fawn lilies 🙂 I even found a pink one! And yes, just one, hiding out among the false lily-of-the-valley.

I just knew it would happen – the draw of documenting this year’s fawn lily display was too strong and I headed over to Lighthouse Park once again with a bit of time in hand so I could crawl around on wet moss and grass in my attempts to capture the perfect flower photo. Quite a few of the flowers were past their peak, and one patch in particular that I was hoping to capture had already flowered and were now well into their seed-pod phase. But I still found plenty to admire, plus I found a couple of new patches off the beaten path to carefully investigate next year.

After my recent escapades with getting flower photos I’ve decided that our next camera absolutely must have a tilting or articulating/fold-out screen. It’s simply impossible to look through a viewfinder that’s anywhere from 4 to 12 inches off the ground without getting wet, muddy, or trampling other plants. I used Live View on the SLR for framing where possible, but even then it’s hard to see a 3-inch (vertical) screen so close to the ground. Worse, the reflections off the screen make it almost impossible to see what you’re framing, what the camera’s focusing on, or what you’ve taken. So once again I ended up using the compact camera for more shots than I expected, despite it being trickier to focus correctly (by which I mean it’s harder to get it to focus on the correct subject).

But as I mentioned above, this visit had one little surprise in store for me. As I walked back to the parking lot, I noticed something pink at the far edge of a patch of false lily-of-the-valley behind a big cedar. I leaned against the split-rail fence, zoomed in, held the camera at arm’s length and took a snap just for the record. It really did seem to be the only one as I couldn’t see any other leaves. I’ll be sure to look out for that again on future visits, and, if no one’s looking, I just might hop the fence for a closer look…

Coltsfoot close up

I hadn’t appreciated just how cute the tiny florets of palmate coltsfoot could be, especially since it’s quite a straggly-looking plant that favours wet, swampy conditions

I was pleased to find this flower a few years back (and posted a photo last spring as well) on account of it being a favourite of a late friend of ours, but I had to admit I didn’t really see the attraction. It doesn’t grow in pretty areas – I’ve mostly found it in boggy ditches – the flower head looks kinda messy, like it’s unravelling, and the overall impression is of an unforgettable flower. So when I saw them growing this year along the Capilano Pacific trail, I stooped to take a few snapshots (more out of a sense of duty than anything else) but didn’t really pay close attention to what I was photographing.

It was only when I got home and looked through the handful of photos that I realized what I’d got: for once, I’d captured the coltsfoot flower at the moment it actually blooms. All I’d seen before was just the pre-bloom flower when the florets look like budding dandelions (or similar). The tiny pink-and-white florets are really quite pretty little star-like flowers. So maybe that’s why our friend liked them so much? Either way, it’s given me a whole new appreciation of this flower, and I’ll be on the lookout for its alpine relative when it blooms later in the year.

Spring green

A floret of green – the soft, delicate leaves of Pacific bleeding heart dotted with raindrops.

It’s that time of year when I go in search of the first buds and shoots that herald the beginning of another spring. Based on a Musqueam story I saw at the Museum of Vancouver, I headed to Musqueam Creek to look for fawn lilies. I found no lilies, but I did see lots of false lily-of-the-valley (tiny green spears poking up through the soil), indian plum, skunk cabbage, and the subject of this photo, bleeding heart. The foliage of bleeding heart must be one of the softest things I’ve ever touched, especially when it’s this fresh.

Bird sightings/soundings included: Anna’s hummingbirds, Swainson’s thrushes, varied thrushes, robins, pileated woodpeckers, flickers, some kind of wren (possibly winter?), bald eagles, black-capped chickadees, a house finch or two, and possibly bushtits. Musqueam Park in the spring is definitely a good place to hear a lot of spring-time bird song!

Signs of spring II

It may not look like much at the moment but in a week or so this will be a beautiful white fawn lily, one of my favourite spring flowers. There was no sign of any shoots when I was in Lighthouse Park a few weeks ago, but I was inspired to go looking for them again after I saw a similar photo from @plantexplorer. I also found a few salmonberry flowers down by the lighthouse, so despite our recent weather, spring is definitely on its way!

I was wondering how soon the fawn lilies would begin to poke up through the pine and fir needles given the very wintry winter we’ve had. Turns out they’re pretty much right on schedule (unlike last year when they were ridiculously early). I imagine I’ll be making a couple more trips to Lighthouse Park to catch their peak bloom, but I also want to check out another area to see if they’re growing there too as I have an indirect suggestion that fawn lilies may grow there too.

As soon as I started taking photos I immediately lamented not bringing my tripod. Bending over in the wet dirt (on a steep slope) trying to get a compact camera to focus on the right part of the green-on-green plant was an exercise in patience and frustration. I took a couple of dozen photos in order to get just 3 or 4 that I consider to have worked! After all, I can even set up the camera and just use my phone to control when to take the picture with no need to kneel in the dirt. Next time…

Purple penstemon

Purple penstemon near First Brother along the Heather Trail

We were running out of time on our foray up the Heather Trail so I jogged on to see if I could find any remaining patches of glacier lilies. I didn’t find any but I did find this perfect patch of purple penstemon (trying saying that five times fast!), a notoriously difficult flower to capture. Even better, I could get the shot with the ridge of the First Brother in the background, one of the highlights of hiking the Heather Trail. Alas we didn’t have time to venture up there this time.