Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bruce Wild with Wildflowers

With the very warm weather of March and April many plants this year had been deceived into sprouting ahead of schedule but it was bone dry and tough. The soaking rain of early May came just in time to save the day, kick starting the wildflowers on the Bruce for 2010. The rare Lake Side Daisies and deep blue Dwarf Lake Iris found in Bruce Peninsula National Park came two weeks ahead of schedule. And everything else seems to be early.

The Bruce Peninsula is renowned for its wildflowers especially the orchids. Each of the 44 orchid species found here have a favourite time for blooming … earliest being one of the prizes, the Calypso Orchid and, yes, it’s up. But the month to catch the biggest diversity of wildflowers is June. Ram’s Head Lady’s Slippers (the flower looks like a goat head, ears and all) are easiest to find at Singing Sands in the national park as June begins. Then comes the gold rush of the Yellow Lady’s Slippers which thrive on a bit of disturbance … so do very well on road sides. Two years ago there were 600 flowers along the Cyprus Lake road alone! Then as June wears on come the fen-loving orchids like Rose Pagonia, Grass Pink, Tall White Bog Orchid, and Showy Lady’s Slipper which are best seen along the dyke-like road from Highway #6 to Singing Sands in the national park. The “showies” have a slipper that is a gorgeous pink with white and almost the size of an egg. Its known as the queen of the lady’s slippers.

Road sides are one of the best places to see our wildflowers and waves of different species dress up the ditches from June through September. At one point its the Indian Paint Brushes, then the Ox-eye Daisies and Wood Lilies, then Queen Anne’s Lace and Hawkweed, then Chicory … and finally the Asters and Golden Rods to end the season.

Drop into the National Park Visitor Centre in Tobermory to get current information on local wildflowers. Expect some wildflowers to be earlier than usual and bring your camera. Every year at the end of May and beginning of June (May 29th this year) is the Tobermory Orchid Festival and it’s something worth catching. It is a great time to learn about orchids and to enjoy the blossoms of “the Bruce”.

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