Three More Inches of Winter

Or 8 centimetres, whichever you prefer. The snow arrived last night and it was still falling this morning, turning our world white. Again. Yes, a sure sign of spring in Alberta.

A month ago we were hiking the Sonoran Desert, panting in the heat, searching for shade. The snakes and lizards were out — and a profusion of flowers. A much nicer view right now. 🙂

Blue palo verde
Blue palo verde
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea
Evening primrose
Evening primrose
Chuparosa
Chuparosa
Brittlebush
Brittlebush
Strawberry hedgehog
Strawberry hedgehog
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Pussy Willows

At last they have arrived. Photographers elsewhere have been posting pics of these harbingers of spring for weeks. But they live in warmer climes. Here, snow still lingers in the woods and water-filled ditches have been freezing at night until just recently.

Male flowers appear first.

Pussywillow

As they unfold, stalk-like stamens appear which produce pollen. Unlike other catkin-producing plants, such as aspens, the pollen isn’t spread by wind. Instead both male and female flowers produce a strongly-scented nectar that attracts insects.

Willow catkin

Willows provide bees, butterflies and flies with a welcome source of food — pollen and nectar — in early spring before other flowering plants have appeared.

Backlit willow catkin


Willow   Salix spp.

Gone to Seed

We are rushing through summer. Not long ago I was finding the first flowers of the season. Now those flowers have seeded out.

Shooting star   Dodecatheon radicatum

 

Common pink wintergreen   Pyrola asarifolia

 

Dewberry   Rubus pubescens 

 

Pale coralroot orchid   Corallorrhiza trifida

 

Elephant head   Pedicularis groenlandicus

 

Wild rose   Rosa acicularis