poetry and prose about place

coastal barren, coastal bog

with 11 comments

On our vacation to Nova Scotia last month, we revisited the Peggy’s Cove area near Halifax.  I spent a lot of time along this coast years ago, but I had forgotten the unique wildness and beauty of this landscape.

We explored two habitat types, the dry and rocky barrens, and the wet coastal bog.  As we found each new plant, I felt like I was greeting old and well-loved friends.

On the higher areas, growing in the thin soil on the bedrock were several species.  One of these included Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum L.), a small moss-like plant with spiky leaves and small pink flowers.  Later in the season, these will bear edible back berries.

We also found Three-toothed Cinquefoil (Sibbaldia tridentata (Aiton) Paule & Soják) with its three leaflets and the characteristic three teeth at the tip of each leaf.  The leaves are thick and outlined in red at this time of year.  Later in the year the leaves turn bright red.  The white flowers each have five petals, and are starry with stamens.

In the low-lying, boggy areas, we found a ‘merriment’ (my word) of Pitcher-plants (Sarracenia purpurea L.).

The leaves of these insectivorous plants are shaped like vessels.  Insects climbing into the leaves encounter downward pointing hairs.  They are trapped!  Eventually they drown and are digested in the water at the base of the ‘pitcher’.

We also found another carnivorous plant, the Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.).  The leaves of these plants are covered with tiny hairs… these exude a sticky liquid and trapped insects are slowly digested. For more information on the Sundew, please visit my post for October 31, 2011, ‘Round-leaved Sundew’.

All was not gruesome.  We also found Arethusa (Arethusa bulbosa L.), a member of the orchid family.  This beautiful pink orchid is also known as the Dragon’s Mouth.

Overall, our trip to Peggy’s Cove was a wonderful adventure.   We plan to return in the early fall, when the Crowberry and the other edible plants we saw have set their berries.

Have you ever been to Peggy’s Cove and what did you think of the coastal landscape and the plants growing there?


©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

11 Responses

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  1. Love your photos and drawing, Jane.

    I wanted to go to Peggy’s Cove, but it was one of those places we dropped off the list when we decided we wanted to spend a few days visiting Cape Breton. Next time. I hope. 🙂



    July 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    • Hi Robin. There is so much to see, I wonder how you decided. Cape Breton is beautiful and I think you made a good choice. You certainly drove a long way. Jane


      jane tims

      July 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm

  2. An interesting look into a different world- thanks Jane!


    Watching Seasons

    July 15, 2012 at 12:31 am

  3. I am learning so much about what we take for granted in the landscape. We’ve certainly been to Peggy’s Cove. I remember the first time: we were expecting quaint and instead found all those rocks! The last time we went was special because my cousin from Florida came to visit for the only time, so our sons both came and all did a NB-NS tour of our common ancestors’ roots. As a result I have a pic of Peggy’s Cove in
    My kitchen. I loved your line, “All was not gruesome.”


    Jane Fritz

    July 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    • Hi Jane. The rocks and the waves are certainly over-whelming at Peggy’s Cove. An interesting aside, when I was a student at Dalhousie, we used to go for a weekly trek to the next cove over, to collect small invertebrates (called Gammarus) to feed to the octopi in the Aquatron (10.6 meter deep ‘aquarium’) at Dalhousie. My life was so different then! Jane


      jane tims

      July 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

      • Aha, so at one time animals were part of your “menu”. BTW, how did your reading go, and how were the others? I’ll have to go next year. Jane


        Jane Fritz

        July 14, 2012 at 10:54 am

      • Hi. The readins were very relaxed. They were held in the Alumni Memorial Building, Tartan Room, so it was comfortable and not too hot. Lots of people read, perhaps 12, including five of the instructors. I read a poem I had worked on in Ian’s class called ‘High School Dance’ and one about rabbits in the garden called ‘Bad Bunny Bunch’ (title from one of Philip R. Craig’s mystery novels). Josephine and Ian both thought the changes I made had improved the focus and urgency of ‘High School Dance’ (I inserted a few tears). I wish you had been there, but next year will be another opportunity. Are you a member of NB Writers? There is a workshop scheduled for the fall, called WordsFall. Jane


        jane tims

        July 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      • HS dances can definitely be responsible for tears; ah, the angst of youth! You remind me that I heard enough about NB Writers this past week to think I should take that plunge. I’ll do something about that this coming week. Thanks for bringing that up, Jane


        Jane Fritz

        July 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

  4. There’s a Peggy’s Cove in Mass. too… My husband did some paintings there one year before I met him. I doubt the plants growing there were as prolific as it seems to me to have had considerable more traffic. This post of yours makes me think of a terrarium! It’s full of so much to wonder about.



    July 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    • Hi Merrill. I like your analogy of a terrarium… it is certaily a diverse and varied flora. As I look at some of my photos, I realise how many species are in such a small area. Jane


      jane tims

      July 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

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