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A Single Flower A Single Flower



Sunflower family
Anne Elliott
Blanket Flower
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yellow and orange
friends' garden
Common Gaillardia
© Anne Elliott 2017
4 July 2017

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Yesterday afternoon, 4 July 2017, I got the chance to photograph a few of the plants growing in the amazing garden belonging to our main Naturalist and his wife. He said that he had documented 300 species growing in his garden last year, many of them wild species. This Gaillardia flower was just one of them. Gaillardia flowers vary a lot in colour - some are completely yellow, while others have a varying amount of orange on the petals.

When I first arrived, my eyes were immediately drawn to the huge display of Showy Milkweed in the front garden - this plant species seems to multiply at quite a fast rate! This is the only place I have seen Showy Milkweed in the city, except for a plant or two growing wild down by the canal a few years ago.

All they need now is for Monarch butterflies to fly a bit further north than they usually do and discover this little bit of butterfly heaven. In 2012, though, it was very unusual, as people were seeing a few of these amazing butterflies in Alberta, including in Calgary. I even got to see and photograph a few Monarch caterpillars in this garden in July 2012, for the very first and last time. Milkweed does not normally grow in Calgary, though we have seen a plant or two growing in the wild at one location in the city.

"Monarchs only use milkweed for their eggs - no other plant will do. There is a good reason for this. Milkweed is poisonous and the caterpillars absorb the poison into their bodies, thus making them immune to predators." From edmontonnaturalizationgroup. The National Geographic has an amazing, fascinating video of the life story of these spectacular butterflies - couldn't find a link to it, unfortunately.


""Pollination in this genus is accomplished in an unusual manner, as the pollen is grouped into complex structures called pollinia (or "pollen sacs"), rather than being individual grains, as is typical for plant pollen. The flower petals are smooth and rigid, and the feet of visiting insects (predominantly large wasps, such as spider wasps, which visit the plants for nectar) slip into notches in the flowers, where the sticky bases of the pollinia attach to the feet, pulling the pollen sacs free when the pollinator flies off. Bees, including honey bees only gather nectar from milkweed flowers, and are generally not effective pollinators despite the frequency of visitation.

Species in the Asclepias genus grow their seeds in pods. These seed pods contain soft filaments known as either silk or floss. The filaments are attached to individual seeds. When the seed pod ripens, the seeds are blown by the wind, each carried by several filaments." From Wikipedia.

Our leader also has a large vegetable garden. One thing that always fascinates me is the Egyptian Walking Onion. Each one seems to take on its own artistic shape and I love to photograph these - both fascinating and quite beautiful.


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