Tag Archives: nature

Natural Wonder – Photo Wednesday

Above: a skyscape captured last night, around 9:30 pm. Cue the Mozart sonatas…

I have been outside and away from my blog for a bit. Here is some evidence of where I’ve been wandering…

Achillea blossom, about to open. Photo by Andrée FredetteAbove, an about to open yarrom blossom (Achillea millefolium), like a treasure in the dry grass.

 

Bottlebrush, blooming in the garden in June. Photo by Andrée FredetteThis is an Australian bottlebrush (Grevillea), a shrub that survives in my garden in the Southern Gulf Islands of BC. Loved by hummingbirds.

Salvia Blue Angel, in the June garden. Photo by Andrée FredetteAnd this thrilling version of blue is brought to you by a special sage, Salvia Blue Angel.

 

Hummingbird in flight. Photo by Andrée FredetteSpeaking of hummingbirds, here is a little male, showing off his colours.

 

Promise, almost open... Photo by Andrée FredeteThe spring garden is full of promise. Almost open…

 

Dry grass, almost abstract. Photo by Andrée FredetteAnd in the fields around here, the grass is very dry, and panicles are poetically dancing in the wind…

 

After the moult, discarded snake skin. Photo by Andrée FredetteAnd in the dry grass, look at what we found: a skin, shed by a snake done with moulting for another little while. Such a delicate thing. Moving on, shedding your skin, there’s a thought.

May sunset wonder. Photo by Andrée FredetteAnd I leave you with a golden liquid sunset from a couple of weeks ago. Again, Mozart time.

My garden – Photo Wednesday

Above: it’s the beginning of poppy season in my garden. I have let a wide strip of them colonize a sunny corner, and they reward me year after year.

Longer days, more sunlight, warm weather. This adds up to flowers in the garden. And many jobs every day.

Bee on rosemany, photo by Andrée Fredette

One worker bee, cleaning out the rosemary.

Whenever I step outside, I notice a loud buzzing in the neighbourhood… It comes from the arbutus trees, which are covered in blooms, but also from every plant that is flowering around here. Bees are everywhere. We have no shortage of bees on Saturna Island, I can vouch for that!

Surprise bloom in thhe garden. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above: a mystery white one that is now multiplying in my rock garden.  (Note: a mystery no more, this white cutie is Star of Bethlehem or Ornithogalum umbellatum.  Many thanks to Patrick, who helped identify this beautiful spring bloom, and warned of its tendency to multiply vigorously.)

Since we fenced the garden in front, I am discovering new plants… They were either planted by the previous owners, or are wildflowers that now have a chance to bloom (before the fence, the deer and goats would just mow everything to golf-green condition…).

Inside the fence mystery plant. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above: Little blue one, inside the fence mystery (Edit: mystery now resolved: this is Naked broomrape (Orobranche uniflora) a wildflower that appeared in the rock garden. A tiny treasure that is only two inches tall. I have not seen it outside the fence, anywhere on this island, probably due to deer and goat grazing.

Rock roses with bird bath. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above: rock roses (Cistus) are starting to bloom and will keep going for a month or so. It’s a colourful party by the bird bath.

And I finish with my new “baby”, a rhododendron purchased on a whim. I found a shady spot, and piled a lot of dirt, sea soil, compost, and mulch in a good-sized mound to accommodate the rhodo. Let us hope it survives…

Rhododendron bloom. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I salute gardeners everywhere, with my very rough-looking hands and questionable fingernails (smile). May your compost bring you good results!

Witty’s Lagoon – Photo Wednesday

Above:  Spring wildflowers abound at Tower Point, Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in Metchosin, close to Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC.

The Haystack Rocks are just offshore and with their cloud crown, the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, supply the backdrop to a lovely sunny afternoon.

Grassy blooms, seaside. Witty's Lagoon, Metchosin, Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

These alien-looking blooms are everywhere on Tower Point. Very eye-catching in the afternoon sunlight.

 

Macro of inflorescence. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Here is a macro look at the panicles. Anthers like little orbiting planets around the main spike, maturing in sequence from the bottom up… Click on the photo above for a really intimate view!

Here is another shot of these interesting “weeds”…

Spring inflorescence. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And then there were the spring classic flowers, the Camas lilies (Camassia quamash). Intense blue!

Camas Lily and its intense blue. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And Menzie’s Larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)… Bright purple.

Menzie's Larkspur, most intense colour! Photo by Andrée Fredette

After eating my picnic in the flower meadow, I made my way around to the beach at low tide. It’s quite a walk…

Ocean and mountains. The view at low tide, Witty's Lagoon, Vancouver Island, BC. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, Race Rocks and the lighthouse in the middle distance, and the mountains of the Olympic Peninsual in Washington State. Majestic.

Ocean and mountains: that is the view at low tide, from the beach at Witty’s Lagoon, Vancouver Island, BC. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, Race Rocks and the lighthouse in the middle distance, and across the international line, the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.   Majestic.

The water leaves intriguing marks in the sands of Witty's Lagoon. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I loved the ridges left in the sand by retreating tides.

 

Here is a special effects photo close-up.

Sand ridges, close up and with special effects. Photo by Andrée Fredette

 

And besides the dog walkers, there were young boogie boarders, getting to the water’s edge.

Boogie board teens, on the way to the water's edge, Witty's Lagoon, Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And on the way back to my car, the shady trail revealed this treasure, a tall – as yet unidentified by me – flower spike. There was an entire colony of those, almost three feet tall, in the deep shade…

Trailside shade flower, Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And on May 1st, back at home, this was the sunset moment. A great end to a lovely weekend…

First of May sunset, viewed from Saturna Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Quand l’heure se fait plus douce…

Sunset magic – Photo Wednesday

Above: from the archives, a particularly moody August sunset from 2009, over Navy Channel, in the Southern Gulf Islands of the British Columbia coast.

Several days in a row this week, the sunsets have been very special. All warm shades, with a little contrast for good measure.

April 18 sunset, all liquid colours. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Above, that was on April 18, to the right of the horizon. Golden mellow.

April 18 sunset, all cool shades. Photo by Andrée Fredette

At the same time, all the cool shades were gathered on the left of the horizon…

I started taking pictures of sunsets from my perch on this island right from the get-go. Here is why:

December 2005 sunset with Pender Island in the background. Photo by Andrée Fredette

That photo is from December 2005, early days of digital cameras.  The pixels are little “rough”, but they do convey the magical quality of the light, and bright colours at sundown. That boat was in a hurry to get home before dark…

But let me show you a few more examples from various seasons, to give you an idea of the range of colours and cloud patterns involved.

Sunset magic over Pender Island forest. Photo by Andrée Fredette

One evening, that was the sight: the sky on fire above Pender Island’s forest.

Sunset magic, Southern Gulf Islands, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

The sky show can be spectacular. I love the light on the water, above.

Dramatic November sunset over Pender Island, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And clouds can create some truly dramatic effects.

Sunset drama over Navy Channel, Southern Gulf Islands, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I did mention that I love the sunset reflection in the water. Here is my shot of that liquid gold, rippling after a boat went through the sound.

Sunset reflected in the water. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And there are bonus points if you can observe the sunset from a high vantage point, on a cloudy evening. Big payoff!

Sunset blues over the Southern Gulf Islands. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I leave you with this “sunset blues” version. Play some Mozart at sunset, it suits the mood.

Arbutus (madrone) – Photo Wednesday

Above: Lucky afternoon shot. From his perch on an arbutus high above Fiddler’s Cove, that eagle was keeping an eye on the water.

Arbutus is a fascinating tree because it is constantly changing. Its bark renews itself every year, peeling off old layers to reveal pistachio-green fresh skin.

Arbutus revealing new bark. Photo by Andrée Fredette

If they are near your house, you might call them messy trees because they are constantly dropping something on the ground: bark, limbs, waxy flower buds, fruits not eaten by the birds, and dry leaves. Year round. A broom can be handy, to clear a path among the detritus.

Still, they are just beautiful. Have a look.

Arbutus bark. Photo by Andrée Fredette

How is that for visual rhythm?

Another afternoon shot, focusing on the bark, curling and peeling off.

Arbutus bark curl, close-up. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Right now, they are blooming, attracting lots of bees.

Arbutus bloom. Photo by Andrée Fredette

A close-up of the flower, which is waxy and heavy for its size (tiny).
Arbutus (madrone) bloom close-up. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Arbutus is a tree of coastal British-Columbia, the only native broadleaf evergreen tree in Canada. Its other common name is madrone, a Spanish word for the strawberry tree, of which arbutus is a close relative.

Arbutus on bluff, Saturna Island. Photo by Andrée Fredette

It likes sunny and dry conditions. Like rocky bluffs.

And in the fall, some years, it produces great crops of tiny fruit that are loved by the birds.

Arbutus fruit. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Go hug a tree, it’s good for the soul.