nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘abandoned spaces’ Category

abandoned spaces: day-lilies

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The orange day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is also called roadside day-lily, outhouse day-lily, wash-house day-lily, ditch day-lily, and railroad day-lily, giving a hint of the spaces where it is found. When gardens containing the orange day-lily are abandoned, the flowers persist and spread on the site, and also escape to live in nearby ditches and fields.

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The day-lily is an herbaceous perennial with an extensive tuberous root. The flowers are borne on a long scape and each flower blooms and lasts only a day. It spreads via stolons and seeds. Although pretty, the orange day-lily is considered an invasive species. Its colonies can out-compete other native species.

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This time of year, orange day-lilies are everywhere in New Brunswick. In the abandoned community of Beaufort, Carleton County, orange day-lilies line the roadside on the way to the former community.

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the road to Beaufort … the long isolated road gives a hint as to why a community in the area was abandoned … a long way to other communities, hard winters with deep snow and few opportunities for young people

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The New Brunswick Archives says:

 … settled in 1879 following the adoption of the Free Grants Act: named for William Beaufort Mills who persuaded the government to give aid to Anglicans burned out in the Saint John Fire of 1877 and encouraged settlement in this area: PO [post office] 1881-1946: in 1898 Beaufort was a community with 1 post office and a population of 100.

Source: https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=232

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Today, there is only one, modern house in the community. But remnants of old gardens in the community still remain. we saw:

many apple trees at the roadside and in overgrown orchards …

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a young crowded stand of Balsam poplar, perhaps the hybrid Balm of Gilead …

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and a flower I have not yet identified … does anyone know what it is?

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Sad to think of the people who lived in Beaufort, planted their gardens and struggled to make their lives there.  But they left their mark, on the communities they moved to and in the plants they left behind, now beautifying the former community.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

escapes: Virginia creeper

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Virginia creeper, also call woodbine, thicket creeper and, in French vinge vierge, is a climbing vine with adhesive discs. Its leaves are palmately five-fingered and turn bright red in autumn. The plant has small purple fruit, poisonous to eat. The vine is common around abandoned homesteads where it persists or escapes to local woodlands.

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Virginia creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch.

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In woods

on Whites Mountain

woodbine

climbs the ash.

Persistent escape

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from homesteads

long-gone.

Thicket creeper

navigates itself

to better ground,

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higher trees.

Thick rhizomes,

adhesive discs.

Five-fingered leaves

spread to cover

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every inch of bark.

Maximize

exposure to sun.

Ancestral creepers

once draped

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zig-zag cedar fences

in autumn scarlet.

Caught the attention

of farmers’ wives

on community rounds.

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October 7, 2013 'Virginia Creeper' Jane Tims

~Virginia Creeper Whites Mountain

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

abandoned spaces: remnant plants

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On a drive towards the centre of the province, we found the property below to exemplify what happens to the surrounding vegetation when home sites are abandoned.

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On the property, I could see the old home, the roof fallen in, the tin roof rusted on the half that was not shingled. All around were wildflowers, most noticeable, the fireweed. There were also remnants of cultivated plants:

  • lilac
  • rose bushes
  • hops
  • orange day-lilies

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Street View, Google Earth gives a glimpse of the property back in 2009.

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remnants

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Not meant to sprawl but climb, hops

crouch between grass, fireweed.

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Recline, each five-fingered leaf

with spaces between digits.

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Remnants of pink rose bushes

and an apple tree, apples

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green but plentiful. Lilac

lifts spent and skeletal blooms.

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The two-track road still leads to

back pasture, woodlot beyond.

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Orange day-lilies echo

the rusty reds of tin roof,

the house fallen to decay.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

abandoned spaces: fireweed

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Lately, I have been thinking a lot about abandoned rural areas and the remnants of gardens left behind. Although these properties are still owned, the homes that once stood there are gone or left to deteriorate. The gardens, once loved and cared for, are left to survive on their own.

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When these home-sites are abandoned, the garden plants:

  • disappear (most annuals),
  • persist (perennials like day-lilies or roses), or
  • escape (lupins, mallow or other easily-spreading plants).

Native plants, those liking disturbed or cleared areas, may move into these sites.

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an abandoned site in Williamsburg, New Brunswick where fireweed has colonized

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As I find abandoned properties, the pink or pale purple flowers of fireweed are often present. Fireweed, an indigenous plant not usually grown in gardens, is often a first indicator a house may once have stood on a plot of land. Often fireweed stands side by side with orange day-lilies and other garden escapes.

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on this abandoned site in the Williamsburg area, the fireweed stands side-by-side with orange day-lilies (Hemerocallis fulva), rose bushes and other cultivated plants

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Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), also known as great willowherb, gets the ‘fire’ in its name since it is one of the first plants to colonize after fire. As a pioneer species, partial to open areas with lots of light, it also moves in to any cleared or disturbed area. After a few years, other plants will move in, out-competing the fireweed. However, the seeds of fireweed stay viable for a long time and may re-colonize the area if it is again disturbed or burned.

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Fireweed is one of many tall pinkish flowers growing in our ditches and wild areas. It is distinguished by its rather loose inflorescence, the flower’s four roundish petals and its seed pods which angle upwards.

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Fireweed spreads by the roots or by seed. In the later part of the season, the seeds are spread by the wind, aided by long silky hairs. Before dispersal the hairy seeds burst out along the seed pods making the plant look unkempt and hairy.

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Fireweed (pink) among brown-eyed Susans; the stiff, many-podded plants in the upper right-hand corner are the seedpods of fireweed, finished with their blooming

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In New Brunswick we are facing a demographic trend of movement from rural communities to cities in the southern part of the province and elsewhere. This means  many small communities that thrived a century ago are now abandoned. For example, in 1866 the community of Fredericksburg, New Brunswick was a farming community with 12 families (Source: https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=1367 ). Today only a couple of homes or camps are found in the area but foxglove flowers, that once bloomed in the gardens, thrive in the ditches. For more on the demographics of small New Brunswick communities see:

Lauren Beck and Christina Ionescu. ‘Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Small Communities in New Brunswick: An Introduction’, Journal of New Brunswick Studies Issue 6, No. 1 (2015).

https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JNBS/article/view/23057

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foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) flowers thriving in the ditch in the Fredericksburg area

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All my best,

Jane

showy wildflowers along New Ireland Road, Albert County, NB

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Last week we went for a drive on the New Ireland Road in Albert County, New Brunswick. Our purpose was to visit the graveyard and to see if we could spot any persisting or escaping flower species from flower gardens associated with the now abandoned settlement.

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New Ireland was once a community along the eastern section of the Shepody Road (now called the New Ireland Road).

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settled in 1816: PO 1857-1892: in 1866 New Ireland was a farming community with 68 families: in 1871 it had a population of 150: in 1898 New Ireland had 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 100: included the community of New Ireland Road: PO 1864-1903: in 1866 New Ireland Road was a farming settlement with approximately 25 families: in 1871 it had a population of 150: in 1898 New Ireland Road had 1 post office and a population of 30: included the community of Kerry which was named for County Kerry in Ireland: PO 1876-1931: in 1898 Kerry was a farming settlement with 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 75: New Ireland was abandoned about 1920 (Source: N.B. Archives, https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA ).

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Today, only the graveyard (St. Agatha’s Catholic Cemetery) remains.

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… Farmland has sadly returned to forest. Occasionally you can see a culvert that once led into a farmer’s home or field, and there is the occasional rose bush or wild apple tree struggling to survive amid reforested lands. (Source: http://newirelandnb.ca/irish-migration/ )

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Although the rose bush did not show itself, we saw old apple trees and two showy species, viper’s bugloss and golden ragwort. These could be garden escapes but perhaps are just wild volunteers on abandoned ground.

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Viper’s bugloss

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Viper’s bugloss growing at the Fortymile Brook crossing, not far from the former New Ireland settlement

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Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) is also known as blueweed, blue thistle, blue devil, snake flower. It is an introduced plant (from Eurasia) and is often cultivated as an ornamental. It is invasive and lives on calcareous or poor soils. At first glance the plant is like a scrawny lupin. Up to a metre in height, it is very bristly-looking. The tall stem has a number of arching lateral floral stalks where one flower blooms at a time. Flowers are briefly pink as they bloom, changing to blue. The stem and sepals are hairy and the long red stamens add to the bristly appearance. Viper’s bugloss is melliferous (honey producing) since it produces nectar and blue pollen loved by bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

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Golden ragwort

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Senecio long view

Golden ragwort growing along the New Ireland Road

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Golden ragwort (Senecio aureus) is a tall composite with flat-topped flower clusters. The flowers are golden with sparse rays. The basal leaves are long-stemmed and heart-shaped; the leaves on the flower stalk are elongated and finely divided. The plant is native, and grows on wet ground, in low woods and in meadows.

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Senecio leaf shapes

leaf shapes of Senecio aureus – heart-shaped (green leaves) and divided (reddish leaves)

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Senecio flowers

flowers of Senecio aureus

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These two plants will star in a poem about long-gone flower gardens along the New Ireland Road. Wandering along the road, taking photos and researching the flowers are the first steps to building the poem.

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I will be sharing the poem once I have a draft!

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 9, 2018 at 11:19 am

tweeting about writing

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Every day, I write. Today I worked on the story for Book Six in the Meniscus SeriesMeniscus:Encounter with the Emenpod. I also did some editing of an upcoming mystery novel I refer to as HHGG. Tomorrow I will be writing poetry for a series about abandoned communities and what happens to plants in abandoned gardens.

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Working back and forth like this between projects at various stages of completion is a great strategy for me. I never get bored, I never get writers’ block and I think shifting projects keeps my writing brain refreshed.

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Besides blogging, I participate in Twitter, sending a tweet almost every day to #amwriting … if you’d like to find out what my writing life is like, follow me at @TimsJane … I report on what I am doing and share a bit of writing wisdom. I’d love it if you would follow along!

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A little about the mystery novel since I tweet most often about it. HHGG is one I wrote in 1997. I have learned a lot since then, so editing makes me laugh. HHGG is about a woman and her two kids who seek summer solace at her old family home. She never dreams she is walking into a village rife with mysteries, some of them stretching back more than a century. I have a few human antagonists, but one who is anything but human!

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Hope you are enjoying your summer and your own writing life!

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All the best,

Jane.

abandoned buildings

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We are living in a time when many of our older buildings are reaching the end of their useful lives. Old churches, old covered bridges, old schools and old houses are everywhere, facing the indignity of old age. So many succumb, end up in landfills or as rotting derelicts. Yet these are buildings where history whispers. Buildings with stories to tell, our stories.

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abandoned church

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highbush cranberry

first, fruit hard and green

then, red, ready for wine

then shriveled raisins

hang on a leafless vine

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the wick of a candle stub

competes with cobwebs

for thickness, thin sunlight

oozes, amber glass, a saber

along the empty aisle

threatens motes

in stale air undisturbed

where stray wind never

finds its way

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deconsecrated and so

not desecrated when mice

squeeze under the threshold

gnaw at the pulpit, or when

vines whisper

vague obscenities

at the lintel, tap on glass

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stripped of cross and steeple

people, prayers

stained glass and benches

removed and sold at auction

mice pause at their industry

to assess ambiguous whispers

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the young girl who sat on the stair

sang a song to her mother

the warden who argued to fix

the seep in the roof

the Minister

who stuttered

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Written by jane tims

March 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

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