Archive for August 6th, 2009


The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is usually found around woodlands, but ventures into gardens and meadows in search of nectar. Although the swallowtail nectars at a number of garden plants, it seems to be especially attracted to coneflowers and liatris, where its broad yellow wings contrast attractively with the purple flowers. In the past few days, however, the swallowtails I’ve seen have been visiting the ligularia, which is now in full bloom.


It’s easy to see how the Tiger Swallowtail comes by its name. It’s interesting that the stripes are not only on the butterfly’s wings, but also extend to its body. Once a swallowtail landed on the ligularia, it would work its way around the circumference of the flower stalk, moving from flower to flower, until it returned to its starting point. It would then move on to a new spire.


Ligularia stenocephala, sometimes called Narrow-spiked Rayflower, does well in partial shade, where it is protected from the hottest part of the day. The long, bottle-brush spikes of yellow flowers can reach 4 to 5 feet in height. It is a hardy, dependable perennial in southern Ontario gardens.


Read Full Post »


Limerick Forest is composed of 175 scattered compartments of land, which together total 58 square kilometres dispersed throughout Leeds & Grenville Counties, southwest of Kemptville. The area was settled in the late 1840s, mostly by Irish survivors of the Great Famine. Andrew Forsythe named his 200 acre farm Limerick, after his former home in Ireland. The forests in the area were cleared and replaced by agricultural fields, but the soil was soon exhausted. Much of the exposed land became stony plains and sandy dunes.


From 1910 until after the Great Depression, families who were no longer able to scratch out a living on their poor farmland deserted their homes. With taxes due, ownership of the land reverted to the Counties. Reforestation was begun by the Counties in the 1940s, and Limerick is now a mix of plantations, wetland and natural forest.


RailGuy and I recently visited Limerick Forest South (Area 3) and followed the Boardwalk Trail. The approach to the boardwalk leads through a forested area. The plantation trees are now an impressive size and the forest has a peaceful, strong and abiding feel. The pines are arrow-straight and tall.


Parts of the forest are very swampy. In fact, we had to give up on the east end of the trail to the boardwalk as it was totally submerged at one point. We retraced out steps and entered the boardwalk from its west end.


After walking through the forest, it is surprising to step out onto the boardwalk and find a large open area set out before you.
To the north of the boardwalk, the wetland is heavily vegetated with a mix of floating and emergent plants and woody shrubs. To the south, the wetland opens up into a large expanse of open water and sedges.


The marsh was quiet and still, but a number of birds were on the wing, with swallows swooping over the water and Red-winged Blackbirds calling from cattails. A Mink frog (Rana septentrionalis) watched us from the floating plants beside the boardwalk.


As we headed back to the parking lot, we agreed we would return, perhaps with picnic supplies, with a view to enjoying the tranquility of this pretty spot another day.


Read Full Post »