Spring flowers and carnivorous insects

I went for a short walk after work. Wondering if the white trilliums were out yet, since the reds were out a couple of days ago.

“There’s one!”. Nope, it was an escaped white daffodil, making for the woods.

I’m not sure how it got there, either a bird made off with a loose bulb and dropped it, or perhaps it’s from seed, which I hear takes about seven years. Anyway, at least it drew my attention to the open spot on the edge of the woodland that gets more sun so the trilliums are earlier. The red ones and the masses of white are in a shadier spot, so the whites will be another couple of days there.

Daffodil disguise
Daffodil disguise

We have about 200 daffodils in flower right now, they certainly multiply over the years.

White trilliums
White trilliums

Near by was the first trout lily I’ve seen.

Trout Lily
Trout Lily

There are lots of marsh marigolds growing along the banks of the Pigeon River, but since Laurie’s arthritis prevents her from venturing down there, I brought a plant up to the garden pond and it is early because it gets more sun. On our property, the river has trees on both sides.

Marsh marigolds
Marsh marigolds

Going further out in the water, the lily pads are already unfurling.

Lily pads
Lily pads

I have always been fond of ponds. I misspent a lot of my youth around ponds with a fishing net and could name about anything you could see with naked eye. My favourite was always Dytiscus marginalis, aka “Great Diving Beetle” so I was really pleased when after a couple of minutes looking at the smaller diving beetles, lesser water boatmen and tadpoles, I spotted one (well, maybe not marginalis as I assumed – there are some similar species in Canada, but where I grew up it was a fairly safe bet. This is a male, as you can tell from its smooth back. The other easy distinguishing feature, the sucker pads on its front legs, used for clasping the female, are hidden. But you can see the hairs on its hind legs that make them into such great oars. The Dytiscids are all great predators.

Great Diving Beetle
Great Diving Beetle

Here is a baby one. Isn’t it cute? It is also a fierce predator. Its curved jaws, that you can just see, are hollow. It injects digestive fluid into its prey and then sucks out their insides.

Great Diving Beetle larva
Great Diving Beetle larva

First trillium of the year

The first purple trillium came out today.

Purple trillium
First purple trillium of the year

The white trillium is Ontario’s provincial flower but it is usually a few days later than the purple ones. There are lots of buds for those so I’m expecting a good show by weekend.

The blue cohosh is not quite as spectacular but is another early arrival.

Blue Cohosh
Blue Cohosh

In case anybody noticed in earlier entries that there is always a small, flat rock on our back deck, here is why. The chipmunks and the red squirrels like it, either because it gives them a little height to watch for sneaky predators, or it gives some heat if it’s been in the sunshine, or both.

Chipmunk rock
Chipmunk rock

We had a bit of rain today, so got another spring first. Black flies.  Those I could do without.  No swallows or dragonflies yet to gobble them up.

I put this separately on Facebook and Twitter today but for those who just read this blog, here is an oriole that beat the hummingbirds to the punch.

I heard on the weekend they were down by the lakeshore so they should be up over the ridge in a day or two.

Finch pretending to be a hummingbird
Oriole pretending to be a hummingbird

For those who are interested, we live on the Oak Ridge Moraine, a big pile of sand and rock pushed to the edge of Lake Ontario by the ice sheet. We are about 100m above the lake so get cooler weather all year.  Most of that 100m comes when we ascend a ridge about 10 km south of here; the thermometer in my car usually drops a couple of degrees (Celsius) in the space of 2 km.

Laurie asked why I started putting a copyright watermark on my pictures.  A lot of people seem to pirate photos from the web.  “CC” is for “Creative Commons” – you are welcome to use my pictures as long as you attribute them, and the watermark makes it easy.

Hepatica and spring bulbs

The coltsfoot are always the first spring wildflower but I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those.  But Spring is such a short season even in central Ontario that the flowers arrive only a few days apart. This is especially true of the woodland flowers as they have to make as much as they can of the Spring sun before the tree leaves catch all the light.

The second flowers to arrive, the first woodland flowers, are the hepatica.  My ancient latin education still has a few words left so I wondered why they were named after liver so I looked them up on Wikipedia to find they were also called “liverwort” which is unfortunate because that word also refers to an entire division of the plant kingdom, more ancient than the flowering plants that now dominate the landscape.  However, the term “hepatica” does come from the fact that their leaves are similar in shape to the human liver, so medieval medics assumed that they must help with liver disease.  (They don’t, though they do have some medicinal use.)

Hepatica
Hepatica

Another woodland flower, the emblem of Ontario, is the trillium.  More latin, for the 3-lobed leaves (tres=3).  They will soon be out in their hundreds, just in our woodland. I’m assuming these are the rarer purple ones as they usually precede the majority white ones by as much as a week.

Trillium buds
Trillium buds

Those are they only spring flowers I have seen, though I haven’t had time to look much as I was in Baton Rouge all week. Although there are tree flowers that most people don’t recognise as flowers, like the willow and maple, because they are wind-pollinated so are not showy like the insect-pollinated flowers.

The early garden flowers are all bulbs.  This is because having a large store of energy underground allows you to produce a large flower much more quickly than if you have to grow yourself from scratch from a seed.

Glory-of-the-snow
Glory-of-the-snow
Striped squill
Striped squill
Scilla and some yellow flowers
Scilla and some yellow flowers

When I got home on Friday, we had about 4 daffodils out.  This morning, a day later, it was closer to 40.  I did try to get varieties with a range of flowering periods but because of the short season here, there are only a few days between them anyway.  The tulips are just showing buds, they do manage to take about a month between early-flowering and late.

 

Trilliums and violets in abundance

The mass spring wildflowers arrive in Ontario – trilliums and violets

I didn’t do much photography this weekend – food poisoning kept me in bed, in pain, for most of the weekend.

Nevertheless, nature kept up the spring rush with lots more flowers coming up.

We now have a lawn full of violets, but the biggest blooms are under bushes where the lawnmower doesn’t go.  In this case, a thorn bush, whose two-inch thorns will deter any mower operator.

Violets under thorn bush
Violets under thorn bush

The thorn bush will feature in a later entry – it has lots of flower buds on this year.  Here is a closer look at the violets:

Violets under thorn bush - a closer look
Violets under thorn bush - a closer look

This is also probably the peak weekend for trilliums, Ontario’s provincial flower.

Trilliums
Trilliums

The woods are carpeted with them.

I planted peas about a month ago.  Here is today’s picture, with last weekend underneath for comparison.  There are also some beets showing, but just the seed leaves (cotyledons) so far.

Pea Seedlings
Pea Seedlings

That’s all for this weekend since I am still recovering and only a few hours of daylight left, so I’m going to take a risk and plant a few seedlings from the greenhouse as well: the weather forecast shows above zero for the next two weeks so I should be safe with some hardy plants like snapdragons.