Friday, 25 July 2014

Michigan Lilies in Stoney Creek.                

By Bruce Mackenzie

Something new popped up this June along the Dofasco Trail!

The Dofasco Trail - on the Mountain in Stoney Creek - passes through many different habitats and there are always some surprises to please the trail walker. We often think of wild flowers as adorning the forest in the spring. Spring wild flowers take advantage of the sunshine in the forest before the leaves come out on the trees that shade the forest floor. After the trees create their canopy of leaves overhead wildflowers mostly disappear from the shaded forest floor. There are some exceptions of course, and the Michigan Lily is one.

The lily starts growing in April but because of its large size it is not ready to bloom until the end of June with just exceptional orange blooms. The Michigan Lily is not commonly found in our area so it is a real treat when one comes across it. If you find one you are likely to find a hundred or more. At the very east end of the Dofasco Trail there is a lovely woodlot that the trail cuts through just west of the 11th Line. Here the Michigan Lily grows along the trail. Most of them are just on the other side of the fence (private property) but all are easily viewed from the trail. They are pretty big plants so their beauty can be enjoyed close and at more of a distance.

Michigan Lilies are normally considered plants to be found in Tall Grass Prairies in Ohio and Michigan and points west. Finding them growing in the woodlot is indeed a treat. They are perennial plants that sprout each year and they grow from a corm. A corm acts like a bulb. The lily’s corm has the appearance more like a funny clump of white rice. They generally spread by seeds released in the fall.  They grow up to almost 2 m. in height and depending upon their age the number of blooms on each plant will increase. As many as ten blooms on one plant have been found. Most of the plants in this woodlot are about a meter in height with 2 or 3 blooms.  Canada Day always seems to be when the blooms seem to be at peak.  The show usually lasts until mid July.

This June there was a whole new stand of these lilies next to the trail with several hundred plants. But this new patch is not in the woodlot but just adjacent to it on the east side of the woods in a most beautiful meadow. Here the plants are growing in full sunshine and in full competition with the grasses, milkweeds and vetches. Wow, what a sight… but why this year? Lilies have not been seen growing here before.

Well, one difference this year is that cattle that normally graze in this field have not been put out in this pasture to date. Just maybe in the past the cows have taking a liking to nibbling on Michigan Lilies in the past. This year we can thoroughly enjoy the fact that the cows are somewhere else. We will wait to see what happens in June next year.

So keep your eyes out for the brilliant orange blooms of the Michigan Lily along the Dofasco Trail. If you miss the Michigan Lily don’t be disappointed for there are many more flowering plants along the trail that will be blooming throughout the summer and into October. The Yellow Jewelweed is another favorite that is found along various sections of the Dofasco Trail.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Farm Crawl with HCA

A variety of farms opened up their doors and fields to the community this past weekend at another successful Farm Crawl, this time on the western edge of Hamilton. This area's farms, are big on community and on sharing their products and way of life. Saturday was overcast and rainy, but people flooded into the fields.  Ticket sales were estimated at several hundred, not including the many children who could learn and take part for free. This family and community orientated day exemplified the importance of agriculture as an industry and a lifestyle.

The Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy along with the Hamilton Halton Stewardship
Program were graciously hosted by Weirs Lane Lavender and Apiary for the afternoon. The Hamilton Halton Watershed Stewardship Program had assisted the farm establish a native/pollinator garden. This project would benefit their bee keeping and lavender honey-making venture, but the garden also provides a living teaching tool.

The staff of Weirs Lane Lavender and Apiary are enthusiastic about not only their craft, but also in their roles as hosts and teachers that day. The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy were there in recognition of the farm’s commitment to the community. This agricultural leadership is community focused, and will help preserve and enhance the Dundas Valley as it is today and how it could be tomorrow.

If you'd to view these farms and their products and practices, please follow the links below to their webpages for contact information.  Click here for information on the conservation efforts and the work of the Hamilton Halton Watershed Stewardship Program (including the pollinator garden at Lavender Apiary).

Click here for more on the Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy or complete our survey if you have any ideas or comments about the Dundas Valley area now and in the future.

Hamiton Farm Crawl
ManoRun Organic Farm
Lotsa Hostas & Jerry’s Berry’s
Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary

John Williams
Project Manager; Dundas Valley 50 Year Vision and Strategy
Hamilton Conservation Authority

Friday, 18 July 2014

Experience Valens Lake Conservation Area

Have you ever wanted to just get away from it all, but don't want to travel hours away from home to get away? While your in luck Valens Lake Conservation Area boosts many qualities of the great north while being just a short drive from the city. If you have yet to discover the wilderness of Valens Lake you have a great opportunity to explore what nature has to offer, if you have been there before you will be able to relate to our friend Jeff who most highly recommends the area. 

Read Jeff's story below and be inspired to make your next trip to Valens Lake Conservation Area!

We go to Valens all year round, and just love it.  It is like being in Algonquin Park. When we stay overnight camping, it feels like we are in a different place, far from our home in Hamilton. In fact my wife commutes to work in Burlington from our site. Our children are reacquainted with nature, and you can be put to sleep listening to the coyotes howling along with the many night birds and frogs. Looking around at night at other campfires and hearing all the night sounds makes it tough to believe we are in Hamilton!

Scientifically, four hours walking the beautiful trails in Valens gives you ten days worth of feeling of well being!

You can also bring or rent a boat and float around and fish on the lake.  No motors.

We have been going for years and always get our annual membership, so that we can go anytime we want!  It is a great way to get the kids interested in nature (their electronics get shut off at the gate).  We have seen myriad frogs and butterflies, hawks and many other birds including owls, turtles, racoons, and deer there.  Being there stretches the day into another of many treasured Valens memories.

We feel ownership in a way, regarding Valens.  There is a big field where kids gather and play and a nice quiet beach.  Most highly recommended!