Before I talk about the project I wanted to mention the awkward image sizes that are appearing on the site. We are in the process of a redesign and will be using larger photos in the future. I plan to post at a larger size from here on out, but it will be a bit awkward until the new site design is functioning.
Tomorrow marks exactly one year since I started the Herbaria. I knew the anniversary was approaching, but did not realize the date until I set up to take this week’s photo. There it is: one year complete. I wish this were coming at a batter time. Instead of feeling accomplished, I’m feeling frustrated, uncertain, and a bit sorry for myself.
Still, to commemorate the occasion, I decided to make this collection a theme that coincides perfectly with the current phase in my garden: the finished blooms of spring ephemerals.
As previously mentioned, I decided to stop posting weekly from my ongoing Herbaria project. However, I am still assembling the boxes and taking the photos each week and hope to make this into something bigger once the full year is up in May. Until then they will make an appearance now and again rather than weekly.
When I took this photo we had just experienced a big thaw and I thought it would be interesting to assemble the opuntias to see how they have been fairing up underneath snow. For eight of the nine plants this is their first winter in the ground, outdoors. I checked up on them today (another big thaw) and they are holding up nicely.
I am yet to write extensively about my experiments with hardy cactus in Toronto, Canada, but I promise there is more to come. What you see here represent the sum total that I have growing outdoors to date, but I hope to add many more this spring. The desire to fill up all available space with these ferocious beauties is strong — the trick is in finding them.
If you’d like to learn more about growing hardy cacti, I highly suggest “Cacti and Succulents for Cold Climates” by Leo J. Chance. It’s a fantastic book full of useful information. I’ve gone back to explore its pages and drool over the photos many times since I purchased it.
As I walked around the garden on the morning that I took this photo, deciding which plants would make the cut, I was struck by the shift in foliage colour. Suddenly all of the perennials had taken on their fall colour, which is why I dedicated 1/3 of the boxes this week to foliage. I will say though that looking back, I am surprised by how many flowers were in bloom, most especially the Gem marigold. That it was alive at all, and remained alive weeks after this photo was taken is a testament to the resiliency of the marigold. It’s not just the summer annual that we take it for.
The week I photographed this Herbaria was also the week that I started to seriously pick up the pace in shifting my houseplants indoors and I think it shows. The Japanese maple leaves have their autumn colour and this is the last sighting of outdoor basil until next June.
When I began this project, I set a parameter that allowed me to repeat a specific plant as long as a different stage in its development through the changing seasons was depicted. For example, I have included Columbine meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium) twice: early in the season when it was in bloom and in August once the seeds had matured.
As the weeks pass with this project I have found it harder and harder to recall which plants and parts I have already photographed. When I get a chance I will sit down and put together a master list, but until then I find that each week, before I begin to assemble a box, I need to go through all of the images I have taken so far and re familiarize myself with what has and hasn’t been covered.
This system worked until the week of October 5, when I discovered that I had accidentally repeated ‘Vanilla Ice’ Sunflower, a plant that first appeared on September 21. Oh well, mistakes happen. At least I presented it differently the second time around.