Archive for September, 2012


Autumn Red

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When RailGuy and I were out hiking near Arnprior, northwest of Ottawa, a couple of weeks ago, we spotted this amazing fungus. It’s Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus). It would have been difficult to miss it! Its bright colouring really popped against the subdued hues of the forest and its size was impressive, more than 18 inches from top to bottom. Chicken of the Woods is said to be widespread and relatively common, but I hadn’t previously come across any, so was really pleased to chance upon it.

Autumn is a good time for fungus hunting. Chicken of the Woods are most likely to be found from August through October. Also known as Sulphur Shelf, it is a type of bracket fungus. The fruitbodies can be up to 30 cm across and are bright sulphur-yellow to yellowish-orange. It fruits on a variety of trees, both living and dead, both conifers and hardwoods.

Chicken on the Woods is edible and gets its odd name from a reputed similarity in flavour to, yes, chicken. We didn’t sample any, however, and left it intact. I don’t have enough confidence in my identification skills to try wild mushrooms (although I was pretty sure of this one), and even known edible mushrooms can be tricky. For example, eating Sulphur Shelf is not recommended if the fungus is growing on a conifer. Further, some people are sensitive to even normally benign fungi.

Beyond that, we were just visitors to the forest, and not part of the ecosystem. We left the fungi untouched, waiting for nature to run its course.


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When I offered a slice of a yellow tomato to my 84-year-old aunt, she lifted it suspiciously to her mouth and gingerly took a little nibble. Her eyes flew open in surprise and she exclaimed “It tastes like a tomato!”

Well, yes. Even a rainbow of tomatoes still taste like tomatoes, though some are more tart, others sweeter, some are juicy and some are more pulpy. Which tastes best is strictly a matter of personal preference. I’m not really sure why I get a kick out of growing a variety of heirloom varieties, except that it is fun to collect them all together for a colourful plate of tomato-y goodness at the end of each summer. Don’t they look great?

Sub Arctic Plenty

This year, I would have to give the award for Pick of the Crop to Sub-Arctic Plenty. My two plants produced dozens of attractive, small-to-medium sized, brilliant red tomatoes. The fruits were juicy and tasty and the first tomatoes were ready to pick several weeks earlier than other varieties.


Here are the plants at the end of the season, still loaded with fruit. Legend has it that Sub-Arctic Plenty was developed by the U.S. Military for use by troops stationed in Greenland! Hmmm. I don’t know where that tale got started, but a more likely version is that Sub-Arctic Plenty was developed at the Canadian Agriculture Research Station in Beaverlodge, Alberta. Sub-Arctic Plenty was selected from the backcross (Fireball x BEF 56-7) x Fireball, and was tested at 30 locations across Canada before being introduced to Canadian gardeners through Dominion Seed House in Georgetown, Ontario, and Lowden’s Plants and Seeds in Ancaster in 1972. (R.E.Harris, Can. J. Plant Sci. 52: 119-120 (Jan. 1972))

White Queen

Another prolific producer was White Queen. You can see the plant behind Sub-Arctic Plenty. White Queen produced many large, beefsteak-type tomatoes of good quality. In 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden, Carolyn J. Male writes that White Queen has an absolutely outstanding yield, and my experience confirmed that. She further observes that White Queen is fruity and sweet, and not bland like other white tomatoes. Here, I would have to disagree. They may be better tasting than other whites, but compared to other tomatoes in the garden, I did find them bland. Still, my two plants produced a bountiful crop that were great for soups and pasta dishes.

Chocolate Stripe

Chocolate Stripe produced quite a good crop in spite of a rather unfavorable location in the garden. The medium-sized fruits varied in colour and were pleasant if not outstanding in flavour. Chocolate Stripe might be worth trying again in a better location.

Emerald Evergreen

Emerald Evergreen produced a dismal crop of just a half-dozen tomatoes. I’m not sure why they didn’t do better, but again, it might have been a poor location. I would like to try this one again because the tomatoes that were produced were great. They have a very nice appearance on the plate and were the sweetest tomatoes in the garden this year, very pleasing.

Black Pineapple

Black Pineapple, above, and Black Krim, below, both produced modest crops of pleasant but not outstanding tomatoes. So that’s it for the tomatoes of 2012. Can’t wait to try again next year!

Black Krim

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Momcat in the Sun

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Right beside the Heavy Horse show ring, the Miniature Horse show was taking place. What a contrast! The four-horse hitch class attracted 3 entries. The little blacks came away with first prize.



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nicol belgians

Nicol Belgians, Copenhagen, NY

The six-horse hitch class was followed by the four-horse hitch class. The same 9 farms competed again, with the addition of an entry from Nicol Belgians from Copenhagen, New York.


Nicol Belgians

Stead family4

Steadholm Farm

Allan Foster4

Allan Foster Belgians


Allumettes Clydesdales

And the winner is…the Karvelton Clydesdales of Richmond.


Karvelton Clydesdales

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Reid Acres, Mountain

Reid Acres Percherons, Mountain, ON

The Richmond Fair, which took place this weekend past, is my favorite. That’s partly because there is such a great Heavy Horse show. There’s nothing like seeing all these gorgeous, huge horses, all together, and no better display than the six-horse hitch class. This year, there were 9 entries, bringing together 54 horses in the show ring. What a spectacle!

Here is a selection of photographs of the competitors. I thought that every team should be awarded first prize! Every entry represents a huge investment of hours of work, dedication, knowledge and skill, a love and passion for horses, and of course, money. The judge had the unenviable job of having to choose just one entry to pin the red ribbon on. She chose the Maple Creek Belgians, of Stittsville, Ontario. Thank you to all the competitors for a fine show.

Reid Acres

Reid Acres Percherons

Trout Brook Belgians, Potsdam

Trout Brook Belgians, Potsdam, NY.

Trout Brook2

Trout Brook Belgians

Stead Family

Steadholm Farm, Lanark, ON

Kelly Farm

Kelly Farm, Brockville, ON

Kelly Farm

Kelly Farm

Maple Creek Belgians

Maple Creek Belgians, Stittsville, ON

Allumettes Clydes

Allumettes Clydesdales, Allard Family, Chapeau, PQ

Allan Foster Family North Gower

Allan Foster & Family, North Gower, ON

Bourbonnais Family

Bourbonnais Family, Metcalfe, ON


Bourbonnais Percherons

Karvelton Clydesdales

Karvelton Clydesdales, Richmond, ON

Karlvelton Clydes

Karvelton Clydesdales, Richmond, ON

And the winners…

Maple Creek Belgians

Maple Creek Belgians, Stittsville, ON

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Not far from our house, there is an old, rusting, retired bridge. When I drove by on the new bridge this Sunday, I was surprised to see that several dozen Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) were assembled there. Some were on the ground under the bridge, and a few were gliding above in the clear blue sky and there were even Turkey Vultures seated on fence posts along the edge of the field.


But most of the big birds were seated along the railing of the bridge. It appeared to be a Sunday Sunbathing Party. With their broad wingspan, they were an impressive sight, even from a distance. Though they paused to look my way when I stopped the car and got out, they continued undisturbed while I snapped a few photos.


Turkey vultures are carrion eaters who locate their food by scent. According to Hughes (Birds of Ontario by Janice M. Hughes, ROM and McClelland & Stewart 2001) natural gas companies have exploited their keen sense of smell by introducing an attractive (to vultures) odorant into pipelines and identifying leaks by monitoring the locations of vultures circling overhead!

Turkey Vultures are one of the few birds experiencing a rise in population numbers. Their success is attributed to the warming climate, increases in deer populations, forest clearing and more roads with higher traffic volumes providing more roadkills.


Why here? Why now? I wondered. It’s thought that vultures and other large birds sunbathe in the early morning to warm up after a cool night. It had been a cool night, but when I spotted them, it was nearly noon. They just seemed to be enjoying a pleasant get-together of the local vulture crowd, maybe having a last visit before migrating. Too anthropomorphic? Maybe, but it won’t be long before they will be heading south. I wish them a safe journey.


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Bumblebee on Bluebeard (Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’)

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As we move into fall, the garden begins to take on an overripe, languid feel, an aging beauty going to seed, in this case, quite literally. However, it is still a beautiful place to stroll and take in the sights.

Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’) dominates the central island. I didn’t get around to staking the Queen earlier in the season, and now she is so well-attended by bumblebees, I am content to let her tumble out over her lesser neighbours.

Lemon Queen walk

The ornamental grasses are taking on a starring role in the border as their seedheads mature.

Lemon Queen and Grasses

My favorite is probably Redhead Fountaingrass (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Redhead’), which has already been magnificent for weeks.

Pennisetum Alopecuroides 'Redhead'

Its little cousin Piglet (Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’) has a softer look, with gently arching stems.


In addition to airy seedheads, the blades of switchgrass add colour interest. Here is Shenandoah (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’) touched with scarlet.

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

The various ligularia species have been brightening shady corners since midsummer. Here is Desdemona (Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’).

Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona'

Of course, fall is the season for asters. Here is Pink Bouquet (Aster dumosus ‘Pink Bouquet’) backed by Silver Brocade artemisia (Artemisia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’).

Aster dumosus 'Pink Bouquet' and Artemisia 'Silver Brocade'

By autumn, the annuals have matured and are adding touches of brillant colour. The caryopteris, or bluebeard, is adding a pretty blue and the deep wine-cerise of Angelica is outstanding with phlox and sedum. Here is a selection of other garden highlights.

To visit other September gardens, please drop by May Dream’s Garden Bloggers’ Day roundup, linked here.



Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'

Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’

Angelica gigas

Angelica gigas

Rainbow Knockout Rosa 'Radcor'

Rainbow Knockout Rosa ‘Radcor’

Calamintha nepeta 'Blue Cloud'

Calamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’

Echinacea 'Green Jewel'

Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’

Black Adder Agastache and Hosta Krossa Regal

Black Adder Agastache and Hosta Krossa Regal

Anemone hupehensis 'Pink Saucer'

Anemone hupehensis ‘Pink Saucer’

Joe Crow

Joe Crow

Woodland Walk

Woodland Walk

Tamarack Walk

Tamarack Walk

Shade Walk

Shade Walk

Japanese Painted ferns, hostas and Tiger Eye sumac with Amur Maple

Japanese Painted ferns and hostas underplanting Amur Maple with Tiger Eye Sumac in background.

Royal Standard Hostas

Royal Standard Hostas

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