Six on Saturday – Footprints in the Snow, mainly

We had a few inches of heavy snow Thursday night – with temperatures above zero in the foreseeable future  it’ll likely be gone within a few days but this morning it’s still there.  You can see lots of small footprints in the snow – many more than in previous weeks, so I’m thinking a lot of critters have come out of hibernation and are looking for food (aka spring bulbs…) to munch on.  The woodpeckers are hard at it as well, we can hear them all day, and there seems to be plenty of bugs in the dead or dying trees around us.

I asked an experienced nature photographer, Bill Johnson, if he had any tips on shooting in the winter, when all is snow covered and rather bleak looking.  He said try black and white, so I have.

Here’s my Six on Saturday, with thanks to The Propagator for this theme idea.

6 on 6 animal prints in the snow March 3 2018 b small

I started a new composter compartment yesterday afternoon by dumping a bucket of kitchen waste on top of the snow.  This morning there were tracks all around it – I’m assuming from the rabbits that we see back there, going in and out of the burn pile where they’ve spent the winter.

6 on 6 animal prints in the snow March 3 2018 small

I have no idea what these tracks are from — they look alien to me — but they were near the road, just out from under the buckthorn hedge.  Shileau and I are always disturbing a large bird from that area, a grouse or partridge I think –  perhaps it’s scratching away here?

6 on 6 chipmunk prints 2 March 3 2018 small

A family of chipmunks have lived in this stone wall for a few years.  Today is the first I’ve seen of them this year and they’ve been busy, emerging from several holes in the wall to quickly scurry across the yard to another pile of stone…

6 on 6 chipmunk prints 1 March 3 2018 small

…here.  I’m already worried about the perennials and bulbs that are planted here.

6 on 6 dead tree leaning March 3 2018 small

One of several leaning dead trees along the fence line.  Luckily most are far enough from the driveway that, even if they topple, I won’t have to do any major cutting up.  I like to leave fallen trees as they are for the most part, to provide food and habitat for bugs and critters.

6 on 6 Sedum and Snow March 3 2018

I’ve added this Sedum just because.

 

behind the lens – a Face in the Crowd

Although Sunday started out gloomy and wet, a brisk south-westerly soon blew away the clouds and allowed the sun to reveal a glorious late winter landscape.  Snow and ice melted away leaving dirty drifts at the side of roads or brown squishy fields and yards that led to much dog paw washing all afternoon.

Around 5:15 p.m. I realized there would be quite a nice sunset so I scooted down to the beach, where I found several other photographers already there, all waiting to capture their version of sunset over water and ice.  I wondered what they were waiting for, what combination of descending light source and spray of icy water would produce their perfect image.

Photographers at Sunset - Weller's Bay, Consecon, February 25 2018

A Face in the Crowd

Six-On-Saturday – still winter!

Joining in the fun with six things in my garden today, with thanks to The Propagator for this witty idea!  Most contributors to this theme are showing images of spring — here in my part of Canada it’s still winter.  It was -14 Celsius overnight, although much of the snow may well be gone next weekend as the experts are calling for a lot of rain and highs almost double digits in the coming days.

Amaryllis February 17 2018

Indoors first – this Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) was given to me about seven years ago and it keeps coming back.  I let it sit on the southeast facing porch all summer, then stop watering and bring it in to a dark room and let it go dormant for a few months before starting to water again indoors in December.

forced Crocus February 17 2018

My first forced bulbs in many years; I put some Crocus in a paper bag in the fridge at the beginning of October, then planted them just after Christmas, keeping them in the fridge.  I pulled them out two weeks ago and here they are!

dwarf conifers on limestone boulder February 17 2018

There are three tiny conifers growing in natural pockets on this huge limestone boulder – two Juniper varieties and a cedar (Thuja).  The seeds must have just blown in because I certainly had nothing to do with it!

Horse Chestnut bud February 17, 2018

I’m hoping this year will bring a flower or two on my Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).  It started from a seed at least 10 years ago but is only abut 12 feet high – not growing in the best of conditions I guess – and has yet to flower in spring.

Woodpecker food February 17 2018

Finally a pair of black and white tree shots – this one showing the woodpecker food I have around the edge of the property.

circle branches February 17 2018

Just like the shape these two curving branches make when seen from the right angle.

Variations on a Theme – dipped in frost

Echinacea purpurea frosty seedheads January 28 2018

A multitude of Echinacea purpurea seedheads.

It was a brilliant weekend on The County – just above freezing during the day, just below freezing at night, a bit of rain late Saturday, a lot of sun on Sunday.  Pretty perfect.

Sunday morning there was a very light frost covering everything;  I went out just before the sun hit and melted it away.

Veronica 'Whitley's Speedwell' January 28 2018

Rolling mini hills of Veronica ‘Whitley’s Speedwell’

Cotoneaster leaves January 29 2018

Cotoneaster leaves dipped in frost – January 28 2018

 

Variations on a Theme

Pruning Time!

Mid winter is often considered the best time to prune fruit trees:

  • the tree is dormant so sap isn’t running;
  • the cold means insects and fungal diseases aren’t going to enter the cutting wound;
  • there’s no leaves so you can clearly see the branching structure

I only have three fruit trees: dwarf sour cherry (Romeo, Juliette and Crimson Passion, all from the ‘Romance’ series developed by the University of Saskatchewan),  now entering their fourth growing season after planting.  The first year there wasn’t much growth – I figure roots were getting established.  The next year there were a few blossoms and some growth – I cut off two or three small branches last winter.  Last year there was a lot of vegetative growth – branches going every which way (maybe that’s why these particular trees are called ‘bush’ cherries) plus a lot of flower blossoms.  No cherries though – some started to form but then fell off while still green; I think it was just too wet last spring.

I needed to prune though and Sunday was the perfect day — not too cold and the snow depth had gone down enough to see where I wanted to cut.  Plus, I wanted to spend as much time outdoors in the sun as possible.  My goal was to leave branches  that grow up, not down, sideways and diagonally.  Here is the results for one of them – I hope I didn’t cut off too much.

 

Sour Cherry before pruning January 21 2018

Dwarf Sour Cherry before pruning

 

 

Sour Cherry after pruning January 21 2018

Dwarf Sour Cherry after pruning

Winter Sculptures

Part of the beauty of winter is discovering shapes, textures, colours and relationships in plants that you can’t see in the growing season.    Tree trunks growing in weird and wonderful directions.  Fat buds waiting to burst.  Bronzed coniferous foliage or bright red deciduous branches.  The weathered leaf of this Cup Plant (Silphium perforliatum) is an example.  From afar it’s just a deaf leaf.  But up close, for me, on a silent, cold, frosty morning, it’s a mini sculpture.  In colour or in black and white.

silphium perfoliatum weather leaf January 2018 b & wsilphium perfoliatum weather leaf January 2018

Silence
Weathered