nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers

pink lady’s slipper

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This time of year, my husband does an inventory of the Pink Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) on our property.

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This year, he found 10. He only saw three last year but there have been as many as 15 in bloom at one time. We never pick them and try to keep our property natural and wooded.

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The Pink Lady’s Slipper prefers acidic soil and partly shady conditions, making our grey woods an ideal habitat. Our flowers are often a pale pink or white variety.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

lupins lean

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Yesterday our drive in western New Brunswick was dominated by two things: the wind and the roadside wildflowers.

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Buttercups, bunchberry, bluets and lupins fill the ditches with bloom. The lupins  (Lupinus sp.) dominate – mostly purple and blue, but occasionally white, pink or even yellow. The wind was blowing so hard, you could use the flower heads and leaves to measure wind direction!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

June 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

in the shelter of the covered bridge – drawings

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As I complete my manuscript of poems ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge’, I am also working on the drawings to accompany the text. I have made a list of the visuals presented in the poems, so I have a specific idea of what drawings I need. Many are completed since I have a large portfolio of bird drawings, for example …

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Others are still to be done. This morning I completed a rather delicate drawing of the two kinds of roses growing beside the Darlings Island Covered Bridge and captured in my poem ‘tangle’.

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I love to draw. For me, it is like watching a movie as I see my hand lay pencil marks on paper. It is not a calm activity. Perhaps because my hand and arm are moving, I get quite agitated when I draw and I imagine my blood pressure rising as the work progresses.

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In order to have a body of work to choose from for the final manuscript, I aim to have more than forty drawings. I have completed nineteen. Lots to do !

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Copyright  Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

February 1, 2016 at 7:23 am

harvesting colour – Meadowsweet

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Last week, we finished installing the new gate at our cabin.  To make our leveling easier, we had to cut some of the Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) growing in profusion along the road.   And into the dye pot it went!

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Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

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My botany skills are showing their age.  When I learned my plants, we called Meadowsweet Spirea ulmaria.  But times have changed and so has the name for the genus (it will take me a while to get used to Filipendula!).  Other common names for Meadowsweet are Queen of the Meadow, Lady of the Meadow, Mead Wort, and Brideswort.

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Meadowsweet is a fragrant plant.  The scent of its flowers is reminiscent of roses – it belongs to the same family as the rose.  But the stem has a faint smell of wintergreen or almonds.

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Meadowsweet has a long history of use.  The chemical in Aspirin was first discovered in its leaves and named from the old generic name Spirea.  In past centuries, Meadowsweet was used as a ‘strewing herb’ to cover floors because its fragrance underfoot disguised less pleasant smells.  The Druids considered it sacred, along with Watermint and Vervain.  Across the internet, Meadowsweet is famed for being included as one of many ingredients in ‘save’, a medieval drink mentioned in Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale.   I have taken the time to read The Knight’s Tale and found the reference is not to Meadowsweet but Sage:

line 2713:  ‘Fermacies of herbes, and eek save’ (middle English)

‘Medicines made of herbs, and also of sage’  (modern English translation)  (see http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/teachslf/kt-par0.htm )

I will continue to look for an ingredient list for this mysterious drink.

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The obsolete name for Meadowsweet (Mead Wort) is mentioned in Book II, Canto viii of Spenser’s Faerie Queen, referring to the making of Merlin’s sword:

‘The metall first he mixt with Medawart,   That no enchauntment from his dint might saue;’  (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/queene2.html#Cant.%20VIII. )

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Boiling the chopped leaves and flowers in water for one hour gave me an amber dye.

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amber dye from Meadowsweet

amber dye from Meadowsweet

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Wool roving, treated with alum and simmered in the dye for an hour turned pale yellow-brown, almost apricot in some light.

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wool roving dyed with Meadowsweet

wool roving dyed with Meadowsweet

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

September 1, 2014 at 7:02 am

abandoned railroad siding

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Viceroy on rail

Viceroy on rail

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abandoned railroad siding

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a  viceroy butterfly, orange

leaded glass

and rows of wary eyes

naturally suspicious

settles on the slate-grey rail

flexes its wings, nonchalant

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as the black bear who

ambled the track

left a dump

of blackberry seed

undigested pulp

or the enthusiastic jumble of clovers

blooming between the ties

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rails are held between the trill

of insect and the quaver

of goldenrod, caught in the crossfire of sun

light focused through

signal lenses

and glass insulators

on unstrung

telephone poles

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turn toward horizon

rails merge and vanish

altered stride of railroad

walking made confident

by the absence of train

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railway crossing

railway crossing

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railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

railway near Rooth, New Brunswick

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

colour transfers

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As I was preparing my eco-bundles for steaming ( https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/an-attempt-at-ecoprinting/  ), I was thinking the words ‘heat’ and ‘steam’ – after 30 years of ironing my husband’s work shirts every morning, these words mean ‘steam iron’ to me.  So I wondered if it would be possible to transfer the colour of a flower to cloth using my iron.

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So far, I have tried two species:  Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) from under our apple trees, and Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) from the roadside …

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basket of Bugleweed

basket of Bugleweed

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I placed the flowers between two layers of cotton, sprayed the material with water and pressed down with the steam iron set on medium.  I pressed fairly hard and ironed the cloth/flower sandwich until it was dry.  Then I wetted it again and continued until I had transferred the colour …

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using the steam iron to transfer colour from Birdsfoot trefoil to cotton

using the steam iron to transfer colour from Birdsfoot trefoil to cotton

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It took five successive sets of wetting and pressing to obtain the colour.  The blues of Bugleweed turned out best …

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colour transfers from Bugleweed (the pale green in the background is made with leaves from my rosebush)

colour transfers from Bugleweed (the pale green in the background is made with leaves from my rosebush)

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But the yellow colour from petals and stems of the Birdsfoot trefoil also came out well …

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colour transfers from Birdsfoot trefoil

colour transfers from Birdsfoot trefoil

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Now I have two new colour patterns to add to my future ‘harvesting colour’ quilt !

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colour transfers using Bugleweed and Birdsfoot trefoil

colour transfers using Bugleweed and Birdsfoot trefoil

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

June 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

blue in the woodland

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About a decade ago, we took a drive from Canterbury to McAdam on a gravel road.  The memory I have carried with me for years is of a section of woodland absolutely blue with flowers.  I often wondered what the flowers were and if I’d be able to find the spot again.  This weekend we tried to find the place and the sea of blue in the woodland.

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Highway 630 from Canterbury to McAdam in New Brunswick (map from Google Maps)

Highway 630 from Canterbury to McAdam in New Brunswick (map from Google Maps)

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Canterbury, like many rural communities of New Brunswick, has faced a shrinking population over the years.  Settled by Loyalists, it was a center for logging and railroad traffic and, in the late 1800s, had a population of over 1000.  Today it has only about 340 residents.  Nevertheless, it is a charming village and has a newly renovated school, housing all 12 grades.

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Village of Canterbury at the turn to Highway 630

Village of Canterbury at the turn to Highway 630

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The route from Canterbury toward the south is a numbered road.  But Highway 630 is not paved and quite rutted in some sections.  In one place we had to ask some ATVers if we were on the right road!

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Highway 630

Highway 630

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As we drove, I watched the woods for those blue flowers.  Wildflowers were certainly a theme of our drive.  By the road we saw Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis), Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) and Quaker Ladies (Houstonia caerulea).

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Lady's Slipper and Bunchberry along the road

Lady’s Slipper and Bunchberry along the road

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The map shows a community named Carroll’s Ridge just south of Canterbury.  When we reached the location marked on the map, there were no homes or buildings, only a few old roads and cleared areas.  But there in the woods was evidence people had once lived there.  I found my sea of blue!  Forget-me-nots, escaped from some forgotten garden to thrive in the near by woods.

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Forget-me-nots escaped from an old garden

Forget-me-nots escaped from an old garden

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In my memory, the ‘blue’ of the flowers was more intense a decade ago.  But we noticed many of the Forget-me-nots there now are a white variety.  Who knows if flower colour or memory really changed during those ten years.

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blue flowers in the woodland

blue flowers in the woodland

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Forget-me-nots in the woods

Forget-me-nots in the woods

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I picked a few of the Forget-me-nots, to try an ‘eco-print’ dyeing experiment in coming days.  But what I really took away was another image of a sea of blue flowers in the woods.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

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