Flower season

If you don’t like wildflowers, keep scrolling! It’s wildflower Wednesday and the alpine flowers are beginning to bloom. Glacier lilies, spring beauty, western anemone, paintbrush, sulphur buckwheat, Sitka valerian, Columbia lilies, and white bog orchids can all be found in Manning Park right now along with many others I neglected to photograph!

I maxed out my allocation for this multi-photo post – I would have included more if Instagram allowed….

  1. A glacier lily backlit by afternoon sunshine – the perfect glacier lily photo! This photo was taken on our descent from Frosty Mountain and we arrived at this pocket meadow in the forest at just the right time for the sun to find a gap in the trees and light up the flowers. Beautiful!
  2. Of course, one is never enough but I like this one because it shows the under-appreciated (and hard to photograph) spring beauty, a gorgeous diminutive little flower that blooms alongside the glacier lily and anemone.
  3. Spring beauty in full bloom – see how pretty it is? It’s well named! We first encountered spring beauty when we lived in Maryland, though it was common in low-lying woodland rather than in the alpine (of which there wasn’t any really!).
  4. The glacier lilies may be my favourite, but the stars of the show up at Blackwall Peak were the western anemones which were blooming everywhere, and often right along the edge of the trail. That made getting photos very convenient!
  5. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the shot from the side or from above, so I posted both.
  6. I can never resist a photo of paintbrush either, especially when it’s still in bud like this. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much detail my phone camera captured, down to all the fine hairs on the reddening bracts.
  7. This was a nice surprise: sulphur buckwheat in bud. I like how the flower head is divided up into sub-flowers, each with their own collection of florets.
  8. Sitka valerian – the name conjures up the smell of autumn in the mountains as they have quite a pungent scent when they begin to fade. It was the shape of this one that caught my eye, and it was only later I realized I’d caught just a single flower blooming.
  9. This Columbia lily was blooming right next to our camp site, and taking its picture was the first thing I did when I got out of the car πŸ™‚ We saw many at the roadside as we drove into and through Manning Park; I’d love to have stopped and taken a few photos but that’s just not a particularly safe thing to do on such a busy highway.
  10. Lastly, a tall white bog orchid. As with the Columbia lilies, we saw some really good displays of these by the side of Highway 3. But I was happy with this one at the edge of the marsh by the beaver pond. I love the contrast of the green and white on these flowers.

As I alluded to in the caption above, there were many flowers that I either didn’t photograph or couldn’t feature in this little collection, although a good many of those were taken with our “real” cameras which aren’t as easy to post to Instagram. This is definitely my favourite time of the year now, where I’m torn between seeking mountain summits and spending hours photographing flower meadows…

Advertisements

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…

Snowdrops

I guess that’s why they’re called snowdrops.

A week or so ago I saw my first spray of snowdrops in someone’s front yard, and on our neighbourhood walk yesterday, I kept my eyes open for any poking through the snow. Alas it was mostly too deep but I did find one spot where the emerging flowers were slightly sheltered from the falling snow. Even better they were just budding, which I’ve usually missed. I crouched down and pointed the camera at the flowers – I couldn’t see quite what it was focusing on so I just had to trust it was doing it right. Sure enough, it missed my target bud by a small amount, but not enough to make a big difference thankfully. I know it’s “just” Instagram, but I probably should be a little more patient.

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.

Ghostly

Ghostly white salal flowers. Had a relaxing walk through Lighthouse Park today, spotting Columbia lilies, starflower, coralroot, wild rose, and salmonberry along the way. Plus we saw several very vocal eagles, Anna’s hummingbirds, an Audubon’s warbler, noisy wrens, and a gorgeous Western tanager (a first!) – and a sea lion too πŸ™‚ A pretty good haul for an hour and a half’s wanderings.

Salal flowers are most often tinged with pink so I couldn’t resist getting a picture of these pure white versions. We’d seen some white ones on the hike to Lynn Peak yesterday though none were in good light and I decided to just wait, given that salal is very common around here. Turns out that I didn’t have to wait very long πŸ™‚

It’s always nice to wander around Lighthouse Park, among the big firs and cedars, and constant birdsong, even when it’s busy and you encounter noisy groups complete with unleashed barking dogs. We turned off onto a few of the less-well travelled trails and left the noisiness behind.

Coralroot

Western coralroot is in full bloom all over the forest, but it’s easy to miss – unless the sun comes out πŸ™‚

Coralroot was one of the first flowers I remember seeing when we began hiking in BC way back in 2005. It caught my eye as it was unlike any other flower I’d ever seen, and it brightened up some of the dreary second-growth forest through which we were hiking. I now know it’s a true flower, relying on insects for pollination but it has no chlorophyll and therefore doesn’t photosynthesize – which is why there’s not a patch of green anywhere on the plant. Instead it derives its energy from decaying matter, of which there is plenty in a temperate rainforest! And it just lights up when the sun shines through the trees.