18 September 2007
Garden Blogger's Bloom Day--Newfoundland & Labrador Style!
One of the first purchases we made while we were in Nfld was an exquisite book of watercolour paintings of wildflowers of the province and Labrador. With text by Peter Scott, biology professor and curator of the herbarium at Memorial University, and paintings by artist Dorothy Black, the book provides a glorious look at common and rare wildflowers around the province. This book makes a nice companion to others I already had, and still others I hope to find through used book websites! I thought it would be fun to see some of the flowers and plants we met on our great adventure--I'm sure most of them aren't growing in too many fellow garden-bloggers' gardens...! So here's part one of my Bloom Day report for September.
Of course we would have to start off our Newfoundland and Labrador bloom display with the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), which also happens to be the provincial flower. This has long been a favourite plant of mine, although I haven't tried to grow it down by our pond. It's one of several carnivorous plants in Nfld (others include the sundew, Drosera sp., and butterwork, Pinguicula sp.) and makes its meals on a variety of hapless insects that fall into its pitcher-shaped leaves and drown in the water collected there.
The white-flowered three-toothed cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata) is very pretty with its glossy leaves and starry flowers.
Looks like bunchberry (Cornus canadesis) doesn't it? It's not: it's the Swedish bunchberry, C. suecica, and yes, it was in flower in September. It differs from our common bunchberry by having scattered pairs of leaves along the stem, rather than the whorl of leaves just below the flowers. Also, the tiny flowers, surrounded by white petal-like leaves known as bracts--like those in poinsettia--are deep wine in colour, whereas the common bunchberry flowers are greenish-white. Dick Steele had told us about this plant, and we were really delighted to find it in bloom, rather than just in fruit.
Cotton grasses are charming little plants that are usually found in boggy areas. Yes, I got my feet a bit wet getting close to this one, but it was just too pretty to resist!
When I spied this tiny plant, I wanted to take it home with me! It's Diapensia (Diapensia lapponica) the only plant in its species; a tiny, evergreen sub-arctic alpine. I didn't take it home with me, but I'm quite sure that Dick or one of the other plant hunters got seed or cuttings from it. Wouldn't it be a charmer in an alpine trough?
Well, okay, you caught me. This isn't a flowering plant. It's dulse (Palmaria palmata) and we found it on the shore at The Arches, a provincial park just outside of Gros Morne. I had to eat some, and my colleague, after giving me a dubious look, snacked on a little of it too, to the great consternation of some tourists also scrambling around the rocks on the beach.
We found a LOT of sites with both sedums and saxifrages, including this small clump of S. rosea. Some that we found were in bloom, others were huge patches while still others were plants the size of my fingernail. I love sedums in all their glory, and could get seriously into collecting them, too.
A tiny bellflower growing between two stones on the beach at The Arches caught my eye. Another member of our group discovered a double-flowered bellflower along the way, but the photo she got was a bit blurred due to wind, and inconclusive as to whether it was a mutant or a different species.
Surprisingly, Newfoundland and Labrador has a LOT of orchid specie--43 species and 4 varieties, about the third highest in Canada--but this was the only one we found in bloom. Our best guess is that it's one of the Platanthera species, but we don't claim to be orchid authorities.
There's nothing else quite like Labrador tea, variously given the botanical names Ledum groenlandicum, Rhododendron groenlandicum, depending on which taxonomist you want to be bored by. There's also a smaller Labrador tea, L. palustre, which is more compact and has several other morphological differences, and which we admired greatly in various spots along our travels.
One of my favourite shore plants is Sea Lungwort, Mertensia maritima. As plant-people can tell by the genus, it's related to Virginia bluebells, and we found some still in flower--although the glaucous, blue-green leaves are enough to make me happy. I don't try to grow it at home, but maybe I should one of these days. Mostly I just enjoy it on the beach in Scotts Bay, or anywhere else I find it.
This isn't flora either, I realize, but it's the ever so delicious fruit of the bakeapple, (Rubus chamaemorus) also known variously as cloudberry, and incorrectly as salmonberry, which is another species (R. spectabilis). This particular berry is a bit stunted, probably due to inadequate pollination, given that it was on top of the rocky cliff at Battle Harbour. SEveral interesting things about bakeapples: the plants are dioescious meaning there are both male and female plants; also they are low-growing relatives of raspberries, with only one fruit on each stem; they're red when they're green and they're golden orange when they're ripe. (confused yet?) I love the burgundy fall foliage of the plants and would grow them for that alone if I had the chance.
There are a number of stories about why Newfoundlanders and Labradorians call this fruit Bakeapple. Some say it's because the cooked fruit tastes a bit like a baked apple, but I find that a bit of a reach. Others say it comes from a bastardization or misunderstanding of the phrase 'baie qu'appelle', (whether asking what berry this is called or what bay this is is also open to discussion.) Whatever the case, bakeapples are like Keith's beer, dulse, or liver--those who like them, like them a LOT! I happen to love them, although until this week I hadn't eaten fresh ones in longer than I can remember.
Bakeapples fetch impressive prices as fresh fruit--as muchttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifh as 50.00 for a gallon!--and are also used in making spreads, sauces, jams and jellies, and wines and liquours. Among the treasures I brought home are several bottles of the Pure Labrador products I mentioned in earlier posts, a bottle of bakeapple wine from Rodrigues winery in Nfld, and a bottle of Lapponia cloudberry liqueur from Finland. Rodrigeus is apparently making a bakeapple liqueur too, but I couldn't find it at the government grog shops, so contented myself with the one from Finland, which is very nice. It smells just like the berries--and tastes just like em, too--and will be perfect with dark chocolate--in fact, I believe that someone is making chocolates using bakeapples, but I haven't had any--if anyone would like to send me samples I'd be glad to review them!
This concludes a bit of a show-and-tell of plants we enjoyed discovering or rediscovering in our travels. I'll post a blogger's bloom day report of my own garden soon.