Sunday, December 30, 2018

Green December

            We have had very little snow so far this December. Because of that, I have been able to photograph some plants that tend to stay green all winter but are usually hidden under the snow. Following are 9 that I have found between December 23 and 29:

Unidentified Moss growing up the sides of a small tree.

I wish I knew sedges. I think this is a sedge.
Sorry, not really even sure about that.

Black Raspberry
Framboisier noir
(Rubus occidetalis)

Dame's Rocket
Julienne des dames
(Hesperis matronalis)

Hairy Bittercress
Cardamine hérissée
(Cardamine hirsuta

Heal-all aka Self-heal
Brunelle commune
(Prunella vulgaris)

Bull Thistle

Oursin à têtes rondes
(Cirsium vulgaire)

Field Strawberry
Fraisier de Virginie
(Fragaria virginiana)

Herb Robert
Géranium de Robert
(Geranium robertianum)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

            I had a good running year. I placed 3rd in my age group in the Hamilton Around-the-Bay 30 k race in the spring and 2nd in my age group in the Hamilton Road-2-Hope Marathon in the fall. Today I was awarded the Runner of the Year award from my running club. 
            All that being said, it was the members of the running club that kept me going all year. I would like to thank the following who ran or biked beside me all summer in the heat to help me get ready for the fall marathon.
            (Hope I did not miss anyone! Everyone else in the club boosted me with many encouraging words and moral support. Thanks to all!)

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Friday Flowers

            Almost  every Friday of the year, I go out looking for flowers in the Hamilton area. On almost every other day of the year, I just look for flowers wherever I happen to be. The Friday flower walk in Hamilton is due to my having lived in Hamilton for over 30 years and having kept records of blooms that I found there for many of those years. Since I retired, I have been volunteering at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton on Fridays so I continue on those days to update my Hamilton wild flower list. In the last few years, I have added a few of the cultivated flowers that grow outdoors at the RBG. Because I have spent so many hours looking for flowers I have become better adapted at finding obscure ones. It also helps that I have been leading wild flower walks since the fall of 1981 and many eyes see a lot more flowers.

            With all that as a lead up, I would like to report that on November 30 of 2018 I found 8 wild flowers in bloom and 2 cultivated flowers. This in spite of a lot of cloudy days in November this year, a couple of snowfalls, and several days of subfreezing temperatures during the month. Just for the record, as of this year, I have found 224 wild flowers in bloom in November and have recorded 19 cultivated flowers. I know there have been more cultivated flowers in bloom but I have not recorded them for various reasons.

            The first flower photo of the day represents a very small wild flower that is supposed to bloom in early spring. A few years ago I found it blooming in December but this is the first time I have found it in November.

            I put in this first photo just to indicate how small the flower is as it shows the view of the flower from my standing position at the edge of a weedy bit of flower garden at the RBG. I suspect that you, and 99% of the visitors of the garden, would have missed it. I saw it because it is in a location where I had seen the plant in previous years and I also was looking for another very small weed flower that often grows in the same area.

            This second photo shows the flower a bit more clearly and I am sure the arrow that I added will help the finding of the flower.

            The third photo is from my Olympus Tough camera in it's "super close up focus stacking" mode. I was pleased with the result of this little point-and-shoot camera used without the recommended tripod. 
            The flower was native to Great Britain and north-central Europe but arrived in North America with the early colonizers. The name in my wild flower book is Whitlow Grass. The French is Drave printanière; Latin, Draba verna.

           Using the same camera and the same shooting mode I photographed  a flower on the native Witch Hazel / Hamamélis de Virginie / Hamamelis virginiana.

             The last photo is another of the Tall Goldenrod \ Verge d`or haute \ Solidago altissima.

            The other flowers seen yesterday were as follows:

Natives : 

Heath Aster \ Aster éricoïde \ Symphyotrichum ericoides

New England Aster \ Aster de Nouvelle-Angleterre \            Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Panicled Aster \ Aster lancéolé \ Symphyotrichum lanceolatum

Aliens from Europe:

Hairy Bittercress \ Cardamine hérissée \ Cardamine hirsuta 

Common Groundsel \ Séneçon vulgaire \ Senecio vulgaris


'Chaplin's Red' Witch Hazel \ Hamamélis virginiana 'De Champlin Red' \ Hamamelis virginiana ‘Champlin’s Red’

'Winter Dawn' Witch Hazel \ Noisetier de sorcière 'Winter Dawn' \ Hamamelis x intermedia 'Winter Dawn'

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Goldenrod Study

             Here I am looking at the size of the flower head compared to the length of the stem. The stem was broken off about 5 cm from ground level. Yes, there is snow on the ground already this November and all the leaves of this plant are gone.

            Because I started my study late in the season some of the flowers were well past their prime. This is a group of flowers on one stem.

            Looking closer one can see more of the individual flowers. Each flower is made up of 3 to 7 disc florets, 10 to 15 strap florets, and surrounded by 14 to 16 phyllaries.

            The entire flower is only 2.5 to 4.5 mm tall. For comparison, a dime is about 1 mm thick and, if you have saved any, a penny is about 1.25 mm thick.

            Here I used a scalpel to split a flower in two pieces. You can see two disc florets, parts of three strap florets and parts of two phyllaries as well as some of the pappus, i.e. the hair like appendages.

            In this photo one can see some stigmas from the ray florets waiting for pollen to come in to fertilize the pistil hidden below. Ray florets have only female parts. Disc florets have both male parts for producing pollen and female parts for producing seeds. I also just learned that goldenrod plants can not fertilize their own flowers. They have to get pollen from another plant via some insect. Pollen is too heavy to move by air which is why one cannot get "hay fever" from goldenrods.

            Very close up photos from the microscope showing the relative sizes of two disc florets. The numbers are for comparison only and do not stand for any real measurements.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday - Photos from the Week

            On Thursday, Fleur-Ange and I had a walk on the rail trail starting in Harrisburg. Most, but not all, of the leaves were off the trees. The Oaks were still hanging on to their leaves as well as a few shrubs.

             We walked for 2.4 kilometres on the trail and then turned around as Fleur-Ange had a meeting with one of her friends that she needed to go to. Our turnaround point was a pond with a skim of ice and one bright tree on the far side.

            On Friday, we had our first good snowfall of the season. We had about 10 cm on the ground. Sadie and I walked some of the trails on our property.

            I went to the RBG for my volunteer job on Friday and also spent time walking about looking for flowers above the snow. I found 9 species that were not buried.

            Below is the American Witch-hazel from the RBG's Woodland Garden.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Random Thoughts

            We have a small oak on the property and I noticed today how it was changing colour. The two photos are 9 days apart. I was standing at a slightly different place for each photo but I don't think it was that that made the colours different. I do not have a positive ID yet but think it is a Black Oak.

            The Highbush Cranberry bushes have almost no berries on them this year compared to the last several years.

            The needles on the European Larch have gone from golden to beige in colour and many of them have dropped off.

            I found a young English Hawthorn tree that I had not seen before beside one of the trails this morning. It is already just a bit taller than I so it has been there a few years without my being aware of it.

            A large flock of Starlings was in a tree at the west side of the property. They, or another flock just like them, were on the ground under our feeder yesterday.

            I went back to the oak today, Tuesday, and found stellate hairs on the underside of the leaf in the vein axils. That appears to be one of the attributes of the Black Oak / (Quercus velutina).

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Blue Jay & Red-bellied Woodpecker

            Here are two of our regular bird feeder birds as captured by Fleur-Ange. (I did not have the patience to wait for such a good photo.)

   © Fleur-Ange Lamothe

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday 6 k


            I ran a slow 6 kilometres this morning on the Brantford Waterfront Trail with the Road Rebel Running Group. I did not push at all as I am still in recovery mode from last weeks marathon. I am certainly glad that the marathon was last week as this morning we ran in wind chills of -12°C. The marathon would have been extra difficult at those temperatures! I hope it does not get too much colder for running this winter. If it drops to a wind chill, or temperature, of -20°C, I plan on running inside on a treadmill or on the indoor track.

Friday Flowers - November 9

             Friday was cool and wet. It was raining the first time I went out from the RBG but scaled back to mist on my second wild flower walk. The first time I went out, I stayed in the area of the cultivated Rose Garden looking for "weeds" along the edges of the flower beds. I was looking, in particular, for  a goldenrod that was still in bloom. In a moment of weakness, or possible wish to be creative, I volunteered to make a model of a goldenrod for an event at the RBG in the late winter. I want to make a scale model of a goldenrod large enough to capture the attention of people walking by a display of goldenrod information. To do that, I really needed to find a goldenrod that was still blooming to take a close look at the flowers. I had been watching, and recording, a Tall Goldenrod near one of the flower beds and went there in the rain to see if it was still blooming. It was, I picked it; therefore, I shall not be able to record that bloom next week. So it goes.
Here is one of the photos that I took of one of the flowers. One can see 3 disk florets and several ray florets.

            If I really want to be faithful to the plant, I shall have to make around 100 variations of the flower. We'll see how much patience I have.

            Following are the other wild flowers that I found on my walks:

Alyssum, Hoary *
Aster, Heath
Aster, New England
Aster, Panicled
Beggar Tick
Butter-And-Eggs *
Catnip *
Chickweed, Common * 
Clover, White Sweet *
Dandelion, Red-Seeded *
Evening Primrose, Common
Galinsoga *
Galinsoga, Small-Flowered *
Lady's Thumb, Spotted *
Madder, Wild (Bedstraw) *
Nightshade, Bittersweet *
Queen Anne's Lace *
Shepherd's Purse *
Smartweed, Pale or Nodding
Sow Thistle, Common *
Sow Thistle, Field *

Tansy *

            (As usual, the * after the name means that they are not native to our area.)

            I managed to get one photo of a Snowberry in the rain:

            While I was on the Waterfront Trail in Hamilton, I spotted a large laker out in the harbour in the mist and fog:

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Beckett Walkers Walk

            I had an interesting walk with Fleur-Ange and the Brantford Beckett Walkers Group today. The group is made up of people between 60 something and 80 something, I think. Today they walked on the TH&B rail trail starting in Scotland. We all started at the same place and walked 45 minutes, or less, then turned and walked back to the start. People walked at their own speed, usually found someone else to walk with, and everyone got back at about the same time. Neat idea, I thought. Fleur-Ange & I walked just over 8k.
            You can see the route on the map below. We started at the parking lot on Oakland Road and walked north. We went over the Elliott Road, over the Maple Grove Road and turned around at the Fairchild Cemetery just south of the Marr Drive to walk back.

            Below you can see the trail from near the Fairchild Cemetery just as Fleur-Ange and I started back. Yes, all the trail in that area was paved. 

            Here is Fleur-Ange posing partially inside part of a machine that was used to grade gravel. Behind her and the machine part is a lake in what was once a large gravel pit. On the map above it is called  Willow Lake. It is currently surrounded by many, many camper trailers for summer "camping".

            Below is one of the 15 wild flowers that we found in bloom along side the trail today. This one is Bladder Campion / Silène Enflé / (Silene vulgaris).

            Other plants we found in bloom include the following:

New England Aster
Bouncing Bet, aka Soapwort
Butter and Eggs
White Campion
White Sweet Clover
Daisy Fleabane
Tall Goldenrod
Common Mullein
Queen Anne's Lace
Common Sow Thistle
Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle
Common Yarrow

Monday, November 05, 2018

November 4th Marathon

            I do not know why I decided to try to run another marathon. I ran my last one nine years ago when I was 66 and have since found that even 30 k races were challenging. For whatever reason, I decided that this year, when I was 75, that I would run another and I would run at a slow, measured pace with lots of walking involved. Since I was planning to go slow, several other people in the running club said that they would go with me; however, by the time I started training at the end of June almost all of them had reasons why they could not run. I took on the challenge anyway.

            By mid October I was doing my short, i.e. 6k, runs on a treadmill in the gym. That kept me out of the October rains and meant that I could run during the day as I do not drive after dark anymore if I can avoid it. Below is a photo of my last run last Wednesday.

            The Road-to-Hope Marathon run was yesterday, November 4th, 2018. I have run the Run-to-Hope races since they began 11 years ago. So up to yesterday I had done one full marathon and nine half-marathons. Below is a photo of this years start of the half-marathon.

            I have found, in the past, that if I am running in a race anyone that passes me seems to pull part of my energy away leaving me with less than I had before. On the other hand, if I can pass someone else, it gives me a bit of a boost. Therefore I always start in the back part of the pack. Given my age and the marathon distance that I wanted to cover I decided to start at the very back of the group on this run. As it turned out, I was not able to be the very last but I certainly was within the last 20 and finding it difficult to hold back even though I knew it was best. I was running 1 minute then walking 30 seconds, then running 1 minute . . . and hoped to do that for most of the race. Walking after only one minute at the beginning of the race was very difficult for me as I wanted to move. OK, I did cheat a bit and only walked 20 seconds a few times at the beginning. Nevertheless, I was soon well back of the main group as expected. The photo below is about 3 k from the beginning. I could still see the main group even though the leaders were well out of sight.

            By the end of 6 k, I could only see 4 or 5 people ahead of me as the main group had disappeared into the distance. I did not then, or ever, look behind me. By 10 k there was only 3 people in sight. I had not passed anyone but had been passed by 2 people. By 23 k I could only see 1 or sometimes 2 people ahead of me. I had not seen the Red Hill Expressway  looking so deserted. In the photo below I could see one runner and three of the support medics that were cruising back and fourth on bicycles.

            At about the 25 k mark, Ian Slater, one of the running club members who had helped me train during the summer, suddenly appeared. He had parked at the finish line and found his way by side streets to the the 25 k mark. (I later thought it was at the 20 k mark but I guess I was already not thinking too clearly. That does happen when I run long distances.) Anyway, Ian joined me and ran with me for the last 17 km. That gave him a run of around 25 k by the time he ran to meet me and then came back the official route. He took the photo below somewhere around 35 k I think.

            I was surprised again at about the 30 k mark when Donna Quick and Leslee Peart-Mcalister, two more people from the run club, joined me to support my run. I think it was Donna that gave me a couple of Tums to help settle my stomach as by then I was having difficulty taking in any of my food supplies without getting stomach problems. They ran 2 or 3 k with me then dropped off to wait for me to finish a loop by the lake and then joined me again for the last several k to get me to the end. In the photo below, you can see the waves coming in as the 22 k winds were blowing the 6 degree air over the race course. At this point, the people waiting to see me come in were getting colder than I.

            Fleur-Ange Lamothe, my long-suffering partner, who drove me to the beginning of the race and then waited around for well over five hours for me to show up again on the course was waiting for me at the end as well as some other members of the run club. I cannot believe how much support I had in doing this run!

            Donna Quick checked her iPhone to see what my time and place was as the typed list of finishers was not being updated by the time I finished. I was very happy to find that I had finished 2nd of the 75 to 79 age group of men. Donna scouted around and found a person to bring my 2nd place metal.

Mostly for my records . . .Lots of comments from my Facebook page:

Deb Dziuba Congrats!! Way to go 👍
Pamela J Heller-Mulvaney Congratulations
Jenny Vanderlip Kenwell WTG!!! You did it!!! Congrats on your 2nd place age win!!
Steph Stock Amazing Dean!!!
Margo Sluman CONGRATULATIONS Dean Gugler
Rick Bishop Congrats! 🏃🏼‍♂️
Ian Slater Right on. Congrats!
RebelCoach Ron way to go Dean..congratulations
Wanda McLeod Woo Hoo! Way to go Dean! 🎉👍🏻
Laurie Ann March Congratulations, Dean!
David Galbraith Woo hoo!!!
Victoria MacDonald Well done!!
Donna Quick Yay. Congratulations! You are my hero
Marilyn Plant Congratulations Dean
Rick Josie Mannen Way to go Dean Gugler!!!!!!!!!!!!! Super run.
Jenn McPhee Way to go Dean!
James Pounds Awesome performance, Dean!
Jennifer Slawek Congratulations Dean!! You are a super star! ⭐️
Rick McCleary Congratulations Dean! I knew you could do it. Enjoy your recovery.
Ruth Cole Way to go Dean!
Kim Robb Way to go Dean!! That’s awesome!
Linda Jane Cornelisse Fantastic!!
Connie DeVries Congratulations Dean! Always an inspiration
Dianne Casey Way to go!!!!
Ronna Yallup Congrats Dean that’s awesome!
Robin Chanin Congratulationst! That is such great news!
Sue Spence Fantastic Dean Gugler! Congratulations!
Debbie Bean Congratulations Dean!
Heron Driftwood Wonderful, Dean! Well done!
Deanne Franklin Bingleman Congrats
Bruce Wells Congrats Dean, you da man...amazing
Karen Cogger-Arnott Congratulations Dean!!!
Jean Hartenstein Book👍
Nancy Davis Congratulations Dean.
Beverley White Congratulations! Well done!
Linda Brown Well done Dean !!!
Leanne Rutter Fantastic effort! We are so proud of you, and your accomplishments! Time to rest reflect, and STRETCH!
Randy Papple Congrats.. well done
Anne Courtney Schubert Way to go Dean! Awesome you!!
Dave Schoenfeld amazing well done
Helene Lobb Lamothe Good for you Dean.
Zaila Hill Well done Dean. Must have been the Mt Doug training that cinched it!
Danielle Gugler Yay! Congratulations!
Patricia Madden Fantastic Dean!!!!!
Douglas Loy Congratulations Dean.
Steve Ferrar Excellent job Dean. Great to see the dedication pay off.
Glenn Welbourn Congrats Dean!(I have a sneaky feeling that this may not be your last.)
Nancy Gambacort Way to go !
Don Jackson Congratulations Dean! Well done!
John Hamilton Well done!
Leslee Peart-Mcalister Woohoo!
Sharon Cornwell Congratulations Dean! You are an inspiration
Helen Sovereign Congratulations impressive 💫💫💫💫
Barbara Ann Irwin Wow, Dean. How very impressive!