Tag Archives: moss

The Enchanted Glade to the Turtle Pond

24 Sep

If you follow the driveway from the cottage down to the first big dip or change in elevation, on your left will be a lovely low area filled with birch and poplars.P1030794a 

Most of the live trees in this area are tall and healthy and create a thick green canopy above , but  enough light filters through to the forest floor to encourage a profusion of ferns and some of the more exotic native wildflowers like trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.  Mum tells me that in the spring, the entire right slope is filled with trilliums. 


I call this area “The Glade” because if you see it in the morning with the sunlight dappling the many shades of  green beneath your feet – the whole area seems to have a magical glow, just like an enchanted glade from a childhood storybook.   Step off the drive and into the glade for about 50 feet and you’ll find that the “walls” of the glade are made of solid rock, gently softened by layers of cushiony moss.

P1030797 P1030554

In this area you’ll find old trees, long since fallen to the forest floor, being reclaimed by mushrooms and mosses and fungus of all colors and sizes. 

View fungus

Even though the trees have fallen, their shape and snarls still put on a good show, as well as providing shelter to small birds and mammals.

 P1030534 Travel a little farther and you come upon “The Turtle Pond”.

P1030502  This is as far as I got into the pond, because I had Sydney with me.  Is it still a pond in the spring?  What species does it support?  are there any turtles here? I’ll go back and do some serious investigating soon.


September 12 – LOST!

21 Sep

The rain finally stopped and, although the trees were still dripping and the grass and ground were both saturated, I wanted to get started on the Big Project – trying to map the species on the property and generally delineate what areas are wetland, meadow, forest and other.  Sydney the Wonder Dog and I set “on a three hour tour…”


Just past the “parking lot” (we really have to come up with a better name for that area), we found a number of striking plants that I couldn’t identify.  I think it is the same plant and it could be an aster, but I can’t pin it down…yet.

P1030359 P1030358 Across a small meadow and we come upon a large area of open rock with a profusion of mosses growing on them.  Sweet.


Deep into the bush we went, me shooting video and commentary the whole way, picking leaves, taking pictures…

After an hour or so I figured we should head back – my pockets were stuffed with leaves and the Wonder Dog’s legs weren’t working as well as she thought they were.  I saw her make a little jump and fall flat because her hind legs wouldn’t comply, she’d fall sideways on uneven ground.  She looked a bit like she had one too many bowls of beer, but she seemed to be happy.  OK, let’s go back… but which way?!

OH CRAP, we’re lost! The second I realized I had no idea which way the cottage was …it started to rain.  We headed off in the direction my gut told me to go, walked for about 15 minutes and found ourselves right back where we started.  Then it started to pour buckets!  Sydney was doing her Lassie impression the whole time, trying to get me to follow her, but stubborn know-it-all that I am, I knew better.  I was wrong.  It took us about an hour more of sloshing around in no particular direction before we finally made our way back to the cottage.  Completely drenched and cold and tired.  I should have listened to Sydney in the first place.


Hours later, the sky has cleared, the sun is setting and I am tip-toeing about so I don’t wake the still damp, exhausted brown bundle of fur snoring gently on the rug.

September 14 – The Turtle Pond! …I think

18 Sep

Did you know … that lichens are the dominant vegetation over 8% of the earth’s land surface

This morning is a bit overcast, sun and clouds – cool but not cold.  Took a short trek in search for mosses, lichens and fungus.  I headed off in the direction of a pond that Dad shows on his hand-drawn, half-burnt map.  I had never wandered over that way.

Could this be it?  This pond-like area is nestled between a rock wall and hidden in a


small pond

There appears to be 3 kinds of vegetation that completely dominate the pond – here they are;


Mermaid weed?

turtle pond veg 3

turtle pond veg 4

Any guesses on what these are?  Finding out will tell us if the Turtle pond is a SWAMP, a MARSH, a BOG or a FEN.

SWAMPS – are the most diverse type of wetland in Ontario; wooded wetlands, often flooded in spring and without surface water later in summer; dominated by trees and shrubs, coniferous trees (white cedar, tamarack, black spruce), deciduous trees (silver maple, red maple, black ash) and tall shrubs (willow, dogwood, alder). Water flows through swamps, although the movement can sometimes be imperceptible.

MARSHES – common throughout southern Ontario; periodically or permanently flooded with water; vegetation is mostly emergent non-woody plants (cattails, rushes, reeds, grasses, sedges); in open water, floating-leafed plants (water lilies) and submerged plants (coontail, pondweeds) are common; in drier areas, low shrubs (sweetgale, red osier dogwood, winterberry) may occur. They are a relatively productive wetland.

FEN – are rare in southern Ontario, common in Northern Ontario; peatlands located in areas where groundwater discharges to surface; vegetation mostly sedges and/or mosses, some grasses, reeds and low shrubs; less acidic than bogs; if trees present, they are usually stunted, scattered tamarack or white cedar; more plant species than in bogs.

BOG – are very rare in southern Ontario, common in Northern Ontario; peat-filled depressions; main source of water is rainfall, little surface runoff or groundwater from surrounding soils, strongly acidic; usually covered with a carpet of sphagnum mosses, some sedges, low shrubs of heath family (cranberries, blueberries); if trees present, usually black spruce and some tamarack.

Bogs may be very rare in Southern Ontario – but I think the Turtle Pond is a BOG!

Mosses and Lichens

21 Aug

One class of plants that is often overlooked are the mosses and lichens.  I’ve always been fascinated by them – how do they cling to life year after year on those rocks at the cottage.  In the spring, they are lush and soft and puffy.  In the fall, they crackle under your feet as you walk.  Look closely, very closely and you’ll see complicated patterns and structures and real beauty… 

Let’s take a look at 2 mosses and a lichen we find at the cottage. 

Close-up of pin cushion moss - lovely isn't it?

 What is a lichen?

Lichens are not a single plant. 

A lichen is a complex group of plants depending on a close association between a FUNGUS and ALGAE – a symbiotic relationship.  A lichen consists of an upper part of interwoven fibres related to the fungus and a layer of more loosely fibrous structures related to the fungus that surrounds the algae. The algae can carry out photosynthesis and feed the fungi. The fibrous structures that make up the fungi adds support to the algae and keeps the algae from drying out.  in the Language of Flowers, Lichen means “dejection” and “solitude”.   



 This is a photo of reindeer Lichen. Lichen can survive for long periods of time without water. They just dry out and go dormant when there is little water or light. They can begin to grow again even after very long periods of dormancy.  Animals such as Reindeer and Caribou feed on lichen during the coldest periods of the season. It has lots of carbohydrates that give the caribou energy to make body heat. Caribou have special microorganisms in their stomachs which let them digest lichen. Very few other animals eat lichens.   


 What is a moss? 

A moss is a class (Musci) of plants without flowers or roots. Moss usually grows as low, dense, carpet-like masses on tree trunks, rocks, or moist ground. In the Language of Flowers, Moss means “maternal love”.  



Fire moss sends up stalks in early spring, usually as soon as the last snow melts. At first the stalks are green but they turn red as they mature. Cylindrical spore capsules form at the ends of the stalks and mature by late spring. Changes in humidity cause the stalks to twist and turn thereby aiding in spore dispersal. By mid summer the capsules decay and the stems break off.  


Check out the photo of Sydney below – what kind of moss or lichen surrounds her?  Fire moss?