More from the Canada trip:
Anybody who's read this blog knows I can't resist a good garden, and the wildflowers in the north woods in late August was gardening at its finest. In the evenings when everyone else in our group read around the big table, I tended to sit with my sketchbook, squinting in the gaslight at some bit of a plant that I'd picked up that day.
Bunchberries in full bloom lined all the paths and grew in patches throughout the woods ... at least the part of the woods that were "walkable." I was so taken with these little guys, and wonder how well they would grow in a southern garden. They'd be a nice addition to my shady wildflower border!
One day, on a little sandy spot where we'd beached the boat for a bit, we found this little shrub. I could not figure out what it was! It was covered with what looked like tiny green pine cones, but wasn't any kind of conifer that I'd ever seen. I took my sketchbook and a leaf (that was stuck onto a piece of strapping tape and then covered with saran wrap ... I need to come up with a better way for samples!)... to the Voyageurs National Park office when we got back to Minnesota. The ranger there was REALLY helpful in identifying it as an alder bush. Of course, she knew immediately what it was ... and she said she grew up calling them "Barbie Doll Pine Cones." She also helped me identify some other wildflowers that I didn't know, even coming outside with me to track down a plant or two to look at, digging through bookshelves, and calling co-workers over for further consultation. Big smiles to the Voyageurs staff last Sunday!!! :-)
Wildflowers were also abundant in International Falls. This spotted jewel weed, or spotted touch-me-not grew along the driveway of the house there. Mom said she always called it "wild snapdragon" because the mature seed heads explode when you squeeze them. They were graceful and delicate and their coloring was exquisite ... of course, by the end of the week I was just too tired to do a good job with the details in the painting!