poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘biology

Niche: new poetry book

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Early this year, I set a goal, to pull my poems into a series of books. I have written many poems and I do not want them to be lost when I leave this planet.



The result is three poetry books I intend to publish in 2020. So far this year I have published one of the three: ghosts are lonely here. Today, I completed another of the books, niche. It will be available on Amazon by the weekend. I will have copies by mid-January.



In terms of biology, the niche is the quality of a space occupied by a living thing, the sum total of physical, nutritional, biological, psychological and emotional needs gathered together in one place. In human terms, niche can be a metaphor for home, community or personal space. One way of looking at the timeline of life is to think of it as a sequence of niche-spaces lived in, sought after, avoided, encountered, found, or occupied. 

These are poems about niche—the spaces where plants, animals and humans find home. The poems explore the niche spaces found primarily in Canada’s temperate zone where plants and animals have adapted to ecologies with a strong seasonal component. The poems explore the forests and coastal areas of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the prairies of Alberta.

As you read the poems, you may think about your own niche, its origins and the changes that have occurred.



My poetry book niche has a Foreword, written by my good friend Roger Moore (not the spy). Roger has guided and inspired my writing as a friend and teacher for more than 20 years.


The book is illustrated with my drawings.



The next book in the series will be entitled ‘blueberries and mink: summers on my grandfathers farm.’ It should be published by the end of 2020.


All my best,


garden escapes: vectors

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The term ‘vector’ has different meanings depending on the discipline. In university I took two engineering courses that occupied me in the study of ‘vector’ mathematics!


In biology, a ‘vector’ is any organism or physical entity that moves an element from one place to another. The idea of vectors is used in epidemiology, in reproductive biology, and in ecology. When I try to understand garden escapes, I am interested in vectors for seed or vegetative dispersal.


Once a garden is abandoned, the plants there will either die, persist or escape. They escape by way of rhizomes (horizontal roots), rooting of plant parts (suckering) or spreading of seeds.


Seeds or pieces of plant can be spread to other locations by various vectors: water, soil, air or animals. Seeds, for example, can be carried along by water in a ditch, or can spread by wind that carries seeds on specially adapted seed parts.


dandelion fluff 2

air as a vector for seed transport


Animal vectors include insects, birds, mammals (including humans). Some of this is deliberate (a squirrel burying acorns) and some is accidental (humans spreading seed by moving soil from one area to another).


squirrel as a vector

squirrel as a vector for transport of seed


The various garden escapes I have encountered usually have their preferred vectors.

  • lupines- seeds carried through air as a projectile
  • orange day-lilies- rhizomes through soil
  • yellow loosestrife- rhizomes through soil
  • creeping bellflowers- rhizomes through soil
  • rose bushes- roots through soil; humans who dig up and replant shoots
  • grape vines – suckering, seeds, humans


This is a poem about a human vector (me):


paths to come and go on


Old rugosa rose,

brought the stem and root,

across the ferry

from Grand Manan,

in a banana peel.

Every summer pale

pink blooms on an arc

of thorns, biggest hips

you ever saw. Rose

will outlast the house

and all who live here.


Virginia creeper

dug From the river bank

below the willow

on Waterloo Row.

Overcomes the pole

and every summer

the power people

pull the creeper down.

Red in the autumn,

sneaks across the lawn,

started down the drive

and along the road.


The staghorn sumac

pinnate leaves spreading

cast purple shadows,

give a tropical air

to the driveway.

Brought the root and slip

from the gravel pit

in Beaver Dam.

New shoots every year.

Headed direction

of Nasonworth,

last time I looked.


34 Olinville road pink roses crop


Note that this project ‘garden escapes’ is funded under a Creations Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board).


All my best!


Written by jane tims

July 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

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