The wildflower blog: Harbingers of spring for Ontario

Pepper and salt (Photo by Pat Deacon, CC BY-NC 4.0)

Pepper and salt (Photo by Pat Deacon, CC BY-NC 4.0)

I am a retired forestry scientist who has wildflower gardens. My mother introduced me to wildflowers at an early age. She grew up in Pennsylvania, and her favourite wildflowers were the delightfully fragrant trailing arbutus and mountain laurel...

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Gardening with native plants this spring

Wild bergamot (Photo by Sarah Ludlow/NCC staff)

Wild bergamot (Photo by Sarah Ludlow/NCC staff)

I love to garden. I excitedly begin planning for the next year as soon as the autumn chill settles over the Prairies. I’m always impatient for spring to arrive, and it doesn't help when the seed catalogues start arriving in November. I find...

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The magic of seaweed

Kelp forest (Photo by Robert Schwemmer/NOAA via Wikimedia Commons)

Kelp forest (Photo by Robert Schwemmer/NOAA via Wikimedia Commons)

Along the Pacific Northwest, there are over 640 different species of seaweed. They come in many different shapes and sizes. However, they’re commonly grouped into three colours: brown, green and red. While these different species of seaweeds...

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Do you get enough Vitamin N?

Father and child by the lake (Photo by Laubenstein Karen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons)

Father and child by the lake (Photo by Laubenstein Karen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons)

You find yourself breathing more deeply, taking in the sharp scent of pine and the sweet mustiness of leaves returning to dust on the forest floor beneath your feet. For a moment, the quiet is broken only by birdsong — the notes that...

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Beginner's guide to winter tree identification

White ash bud and twig (Photo by Quinten Wiergersma, CC BY 4.0)

White ash bud and twig (Photo by Quinten Wiergersma, CC BY 4.0)

Many trees are easier to identify without their leaves. When you’re out for a winter hike, it may seem that there aren’t many clues to identifying the trees around you. Because trees are sporting bare branches, you might think they...

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The resiliency and significance of cedar

Eastern red cedar (Photo by Onel Guce, CC BY-NC 4.0)

Eastern red cedar (Photo by Onel Guce, CC BY-NC 4.0)

It seems like everywhere I go, I see cedar trees. This isn’t surprising, since Canada’s four species of cedar can be common where they occur. Growing up to 15 metres tall and representing some of the oldest trees in Canada, cedar...

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The wonder of winter wetlands

Brighton Wetland from a nearby field in early fall. Note that the cattails in the distance are already turning brown and falling down. (Photo by NCC)

Brighton Wetland from a nearby field in early fall. Note that the cattails in the distance are already turning brown and falling down. (Photo by NCC)

Two summers ago I spent a lot of time trekking through beautiful wetlands, both while working at NCC and for leisure. I loved every moment of my time there, whether I was wading out into knee-deep water to hand pull invasive European frog-bit,...

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Whitebark pine research in the Darkwoods Conservation Area

The view from the top of Mt. McGregor capturing some of the remote and wild terrain within the Darkwoods Conservation Area. (Photo by Stephanie Jouvet)

The view from the top of Mt. McGregor capturing some of the remote and wild terrain within the Darkwoods Conservation Area. (Photo by Stephanie Jouvet)

The rugged beauty of the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges extend far into the distance, as I follow the calmness of Kootenay Lake from its northern reaches, south to where it fades into the marshlands of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management...

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The plants we leave behind

1925 Canadian National Railways Algonquin Park pamphlet showing painting of Highland Inn on cover, with centerfold photographs of Highland Inn, Nominigan Camp and Camp Minnesing (Public Domain)

1925 Canadian National Railways Algonquin Park pamphlet showing painting of Highland Inn on cover, with centerfold photographs of Highland Inn, Nominigan Camp and Camp Minnesing (Public Domain)

Nominigan Camp in Ontario’s Algonquin Park was built along the shore of Smoke Lake in 1913. During its peak, the log cabins and main lodge could host almost 100 guests. It later became a private residence and was abandoned and dismantled...

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From fear to awe: Spooky finds in nature

Fly agaric mushroom (Photo by emmaverson, CC BY-NC 4.0)

Fly agaric mushroom (Photo by emmaverson, CC BY-NC 4.0)

If you ask me what’s the scariest thing that happened in 2020, I’d say COVID-19. It forced many of us to re-examine our lives and even our relationship with nature. While I’ve often described nature as beautiful, fascinating and...

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