Forest Fern

Last evening I took a walk through our forest. The last rays of sunlight were still penetrating the forest canopy, at least for just a minute or two. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Blue Spruce—Edible Plants

Blue spruce, picea pungens, is native to the Rocky Mountains, but can be found as ornamental trees throughout the United States. The young shoots can be used to make tea high in vitamin C. This bitter, resinous drink is surprisingly refreshing, although it is not uncommon for people to add a sweetener. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Spring Trillium

Red trillium, or wake robin, is appearing on the forest floor. It is one of the first flowers of the season, taking advantage of the light before the foliage returns. Trillium is a striking plant, but its scent of rotting meat is for a slightly different audience. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Winter Blackberries

I explored our land this weekend. We have had unusual amounts of rain, freezing rain, and sleet this winter. The snow pack is hard and slippery–normally when I wear snowshoes, it is so I don’t sink too far into the snow, but now I just need the crampons on the shoes to stop from slipping.

Our blackberry field is like an abstract painting of hard black strokes on a brilliant white canvas. This is such a stark transformation from what this field looks like in the summer. Click on the image for a larger view.

Small Cranberry

life_in_maine_small_cranberrySmall cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccos, can be found in peat or acidic soils, which gives it its other common name, bog cranberry. This is one of the first plants to colonize burnt bogland and native Americans would burn bogs to stimulate its growth. Like the cultivated cranberry, these are tart. Naturally, this fruit is sought after by wildlife. This plant is on Little Moose Island at the tip of Schoodic peninsular in Acadia National Park. Click on the image for a larger view.

Green

life_in_maine_greenNaomi and I were collecting blackberries from our field last evening. This time of year there seems to be a richness to the variety in the greens in the landscape. The yellow greens of spring remain, but there is a shift to blue greens of the maturing foliage of the trees. The blackberry canes start their transition to the reds of fall. Click on the image for a larger view.

Blackberry in Bloom

life_in_maine_blackberry_in_bloomOur fruit plants are going through their annual flowering cycle. At the beginning of May, our wild plum was in bloom. The middle of may brought the blossoms out in our apple and peach trees. Now our blackberry canes are blossoming. These are in our field, but the blackberry under our forest canopy are also out. Click on the image for a larger view.

May Day 2016

life_in_maine_may_day_2016While the blossoms of our plum trees are still tightly closed, these opened today because of the microclimate created by their proximity to the ground. May 1st was warm, but overcast. Click on the image for a larger view.

Aaaaggh…

life_in_maine_snowYesterday was April 26th (not March 26th, although it looked like it). It snowed all day. This is a bit disheartening. Naomi and I hope the cold has not harmed the budding plants. We are supposed to go below freezing for the next few nights. The daytime temperatures should be in the 50s, which will help. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Red Trillium

life_in_maine_spring_2016We have been having a stretch of warm weather, at least in the low 60°F. The warmth has felt really good, especially since the last two winters have been really long. And with this warm spell, we are seeing a return of life. One of the plants that has just returned to our forest floor is the red trillium or trillium erectum. Like the robin, it is a herald of spring, which gives it its common name—wake-robin. But it is a spring ephemeral, a short-lived plant, surviving long enough to complete its reproduction cycle. By the time the fern return, this plant will be gone. Two things about this herbaceous perennial: it is toxic and the bloom smells like rotting meat (flies are its primary pollinator). Click on the image for a larger view.