Scarlet Spikes Beside the Earth Pond

lobelia cardinalis - cardinal flowerScarlet spikes, brilliant against the dark green water and green leaves: lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower.

My mother bought the seeds when she was here on holiday the summer after my father died. They had been his favorite flower and she was going to take them home to plant them in her own garden. But then she worried about whether it was legal to take seeds into the UK. Suppose she was arrested? She decided not to take them back. Instead she wanted to plant the seeds beside the pond. Over the years the flowers have flourished and spread. It’s always a special moment when I catch a glimpse of that dramatic scarlet. And the hummingbirds love them too.


Canada Day Weekend Beside the Pond


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

The deer have eaten the tops off all the rudbeckia. The strong smelling soap I left out in plastic bottles obviously didn’t deter them.

The end of the inlet pipe in the stream needs digging out again as it is covered with gravel and rocks brought downstream by the heavy rains. A small mouse scuttles away as I lift the cover off the pump plug.

beside the pond - creeping buttercup

creeping buttercup

As I sit by the pond I hear our new neighbours finishing work on paving over a good part of their garden.

Odd to want a place in the woods then cut down the trees and cover the earth with slabs of concrete. Although I must admit we also have a small patio of paving slabs – it was already here when we moved in almost twenty-five years ago. Now they’re moss-covered, with violets, Deptford pinks and forget-me-nots and roses growing in the spaces between them. According to a 2002 National Geographic article, 83 per cent of the earth shows human “footprint”.  I

pond inhabitant - American Toad

American Toad

wonder what additional percentage of the earth has since then disappeared under paving stones, asphalt, parking lots, malls, condos.

There used to be a beautiful bountiful garden in a parking lot on rue Bishop in downtown Montreal. The birds flocked to the birdbath, flowers and greenery, and the sunflowers grew to enormous heights – sometimes they grew so tall that even the revelers from the clubs in the area held back from cutting the flower heads off. The next-door lot was scrub grass, broken glass and needles – until the chicory came out, when it became a carpet of blue. Now a large

condo building is going up on the street and the garden and scrub grass have disappeared. With the tall layers of concrete and glass, the street has become dark and closed-in.

on the pond-blue fronted dancer dragonfly

Blue Fronted Dancer Dragonfly

Behind me, water gurgles in the stream, in front of me it bubbles from the fountain. Frog twangings from all around. Huge tadpoles with hind-legs sprouting rest on the floating roots of the water hyacinth. Dragonflies chase each other, mating.

on the pond - common whitetail dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

As the sun dips behind the trees and the shadows spread, the water in the pond darkens, shining green and black. The mosquitoes come out.IMG_2446

Oh my gosh, there’s a turtle looking at me from the middle of the pond – the first time that I’ve seen one here.