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A Herbarium for Wintergreen Studios

We’re working  on a fun science project at Wintergreen Studios this summer. In the interest of tallying and identifying all the species of plants on our land, we’re constructing a herbarium. A herbarium is essentially a library of plants, a vast collection that catalogs the species composition in our surrounding area. When a plant is picked, it needs to be dried out and then mounted on a rigid piece of cardboard for display.

Each entry is a single plant along with particular attributes:

  1. the plant itself, identified with its family, genus, and species
  2. the precise (GPS) location where the plant was found
  3. a short description of the habitat where the plant was found
  4. the name of the person who collected the plant and the name of the identifier
  5. the plant’s cataloging number
  6. the date on which the plant was picked
  7. the name of the institution where the plant is stored

When picking a plant, it is important to have all of its parts. That is, the roots, stems and leafs, flowers, and fruits. This way, you have a complete view of the plant and identification is much easier with all of the plant components. Identifying the plant is the hardest part and requires patience and the proper tools to help you out. A 10X magnifying glass will be useful, as will a field guide and identification key.

Herbariums are a great source of information for universities and botanical gardens. They are most typically utilized for scientific consultation, in situ visits, inter-institutional loans and exchanges, and now, web consultations as more and more of the information can be easily digitized. The Royal Botanical Gardens and the University of Montreal have two of the largest herbariums in Canada.

Big institutions protect the plants in tall, hermetically enclosed, fire resistant cases. The cataloged plants contain valuable information about habitat, chemical composition and DNA, to name a few, that needs to be well protected in order to preserve the plants. Should some of the plants become extinct, these banks are the only chance we have a restoring the plants to life on earth.

Now, our project will not be quite as involved as the herbarium you’d find at the Royal Botanical Garden, but nonetheless, it will be complete, precise, and incredibly fun to make. With hundreds of species to identify, this project will certainly take a few years to complete. I’d better get started!

Bob Bossin on June 28th

We’re pleased to have Bob Bossin, former frontman of Stringband, perform at Wintergreen Studios.  His show will be part story telling, part musical performance and tells the tale of his father Davy and his involvement in the Toronto gambling scene of the 1930s and 40s.

Bob has been performing “Davy the Punk” to sold out show across the country and, between shows in Ottawa, is looking forward to performing for you at a smaller venue.  Praise for the show comes from everywhere:

“Our audiences loved it. Davy the Punk is a triple crown of music, wry comedy, and affecting family reunion. The songs are thoroughbred Bossin, the story is beguiling, and the reunion –
between Bob and the father he knew as a soft spoken booking agent
but who turns out to be, well, Davy the Punk – is something to
cheer about.”
-FRANK MOHER, ARTISTIC PRODUCER OF WESTERN EDGE THEATRE.

“Bossin is a Canadian folk hero for good reason. He has given us a glorious patchwork quilt with many riveting images and soul revealing truths.” – JOSEPH BLAKE, THE TIMES-COLONIST

Some tickets are still available, be sure to reserve yours here! Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Join us on Saturday the 28th of June for a great evening!

 

Tilting to the sun

tilt sunWith the sun climbing ever higher, the time has come to tilt our panels closer to the sun.

On June 13, we held a retreat at Wintergreen called Building Community Power. Turns out that there were a number of participants who were all too eager to help us tilt our panels! Pictured here are Julie Leach (SolarShare), Steve Lapp (St. Lawrence College),Dwight Lunan (Visiting Electrical Engineer from Kingston, Jamaica), Alex Campbell (Wintergreen Studios), Joseph Lewis (Visiting Mechanical Engineer from Kingston, Jamaica), and Mike Brigham (TREC Renewable Energy Co-op).

Market Season

photo4I hadn’t yet been to one of the local farmers markets,  so last Sunday, June 8th, I drove out to the Memorial Centre in Kingston and, along with a couple other volunteers, helped marketing & recruitment manager Jolene Simko and market manager Emma Barken set up the market. June 8th marked the grand opening for the market and I took the opportunity to get acquainted with the organizers and local farmers. This is the third season for the the photo2Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market (MCFM) and with the addition of more vendors for the 2014 season, the MCFM now has over two dozen local producers and artisans.

marketThough the market is full of local meats and produce, guests can still benefit from a couple of international dishes.  Wander over to Natasha’s for a Ukrainian lunch or even enjoy tacos and refreshing horchata from her Spanish neighbour. The market is also set up with games for children and adults alike, such as identifying herbs or vegetable seeds. The market runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and they’re always in need of helpful volunteers to aid in setting up and tearing down the market. You can contact Jolene is you’re interested in lending a hand.

marketComplete with music, hot meals, cold beverages, an excited crowd and, of course, fresh local food, the MCFM is a great way to spend your Sunday mornings in the summer.

 

Nature Talks

After a little gardening  this morning, I had a bite to eat for lunch and then strolled over to Forest Farms, my neighbours, to pick up some fresh organic asparagus.  Wolfe was there this week and we got to talking about gray ratsnakes and how lucky we are to coexist so closely with these reptiles. Listed as a threatened species in this region (Frontenac Axis) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the gray ratsnake is readily seen around Wintergreen Studios and Forest Farms. According to the recovery strategy for the gray ratsnake in Ontario, we fall in a region prescribed as a habitat for this species. The females will commonly lay eggs in ” rotten interior cavities of large deciduous trees and stumps or compost piles”. The latter is exactly where Wolfe and I found a snake as we headed down the trails.

Gray ratsnake
Gray ratsnake

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 I can’t be sure that it is a female but given that we’re nearing the beginning of June (reproduction season) and that the snake was on a compost pile, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it is indeed a female.

With my asparagus in hand, I returned to Wintergreen but before I made it back, I stumbled upon another interesting species, a lovely morel. I happily picked it, thinking it would make a tasty dish with my asparagus. One however, will not suffice… I’m off to search for more.

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You cross all kinds of species while out in nature. A keen eye and some knowledge of your local biodiversity helps to spot animals, plants, and fungi you might not normally notice. Add a little curiosity to that and you’ve got a recipe for enjoying the outdoors … and perhaps your supper as well!

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The Leaves They Are A Changing

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April 24th, 2014 – 3 p.m. on the main trail
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May 1st, 2014 – 10 a.m. forest in front of the lodge
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May 10th, 2014 – 4:15 p.m. trillium community of the main trail
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May 14th, 2014 – 2:30 p.m. south trail forest
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May 16th, 2014 – 10 a.m. forest in front of the lodge

It’s been an amazing spectacle to watch the environment around me change so rapidly these past few weeks. With all the rain this week, I can actually see the leaves on the trees burst out of their scales and extend toward the sun right before my eyes.  My bicoloured winter surroundings have changed into lush polychromatic greens. In the next couple of weeks however, those lush greens will be accompanied by more colours and thus complete the canvas.

The emergence of leaves and flowers in the spring is an example of phenology. Phenology is the study of events in the life cycle of plants and animals, the timing of natural events. The most obvious natural event for me right now is leaf phenology. Scientists record these events in order to capture a better understanding of the natural world. Subsequently, theses records can, for example,  inform us on bird migrations patterns, when lakes freeze, and of course when leaves change. Of late, phenology records have also been important sources of information for scientists studying climate change.  For a more in depth discussion about climate change, be sure to attend our lecture with Mat Paterson, a lead author for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The dinner and lecture is on Sunday, June 7th. As usual, dinner will be at 6 p.m. followed by the lecture at 7:30 p.m. You can register for the event here.

We will have an open house on Sunday, May 18th when you’ll be able to visit the lodge and the grounds and see first hand all of these magnificent changes to our environment.

Can you taste the wild leeks?

One more sleep before the David Kemp one man show, which takes place at Wintergreen on Saturday, May 10. The show is called A Child Growing Up, which seems awfully fitting for Mother’s Day Eve.

There are only six spaces left. Book online if you’d like to claim some of those tickets!

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Ramps! (a.k.a. wild leeks)

Oh yeah – the wild leeks. We’re featuring fresh leeks from the land (wild leeks are also known as “ramps” and grow near the base of sugar maple trees). The leeks will become a pesto for a pasta dish, also featuring  sunflower seeds,  green beans, and Parmesan. The pasta will be served with a spinach, apple, and chevre salad, a Mediterranean bean dish, and focaccia from Kingston’s wonderful Pasta Genova. We’ll  top off the meal with ice cream and almond liqueur, along with mint from our garden.

Once the dinner dishes are cleared away, we’ll transform the great room into a tiny theatre and enjoy the work of the splendid  playwright, actor, and director, David Kemp. If you read his biography closely, you’ll see that he has worked as a director in  in London, Cairo, and Denmark. And that Lynn Redgrave was an English acting classmate. For the rest? Well, you’ll just have to come and find out for yourself!

Ian Tamblyn Retrospective

tamblynAs I sit outside on our porch listening to the birds and the tranquil sound of the rain falling, I remember the wonderful event we had last Saturday. Ian Tamblyn treated us to nearly 4 hours of songs and stories from his travels across Canada. He began the evening with Black Spruce from his famed Superior: Spirit and Light album and continued with selections from his entire discography. He took us on an adventure from Haida Gwaii on Canada’s west coast, up north to the Arctic where we visited some friends of his in Kuujjuaq. We met up with the Torngat mountains and even crossed the Atlantic when he recounted his visits in Scandinavia. Set up with two guitars, a hammered dulcimer and a flute, Ian’s stories are just as diversified as the type of music he plays. By 10 p.m. everyone was still sitting, enjoying every moment. “I’ll take a short break now,” he says, “in case people need to go home. I’ll never forgive you though if you leave.” Every bit as witty as some of his songs (Absolut Vodka and Wine was a favourite that night), Ian truly entertains throughout the entire soireé.

Thank you Ian!

KempOur next dinner and show is scheduled for May 10th. David Kemp will be our guest and he will perform his one man show A Child Growing Up.  This will certainly be another wonderful evening. We look forward to seeing you then.

 Register here

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Spring Peepers

Yes, the frogs. And the blooms as well. Finally! It’s here. Spring is bursting on the Wintergreen trails. Check out the earliest hepatica blooms, the beginnings of the Dutchman’s breeches, mullen, strawberries, and columbine, a scarlet elf cap, ramps (otherwise known as wild leeks — yummy) and… of course… wintergreen, our namesake. Scroll down to see them all.

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Wintergreen

Then there’s our wildly productive courtyard onion, first planted in the garden in 2009 (how can a cultivated green onion become a perennial?), and the very cultivated dancing yellow crocuses in the front garden. Happy to see both the domestic and the wild in bloom. And to hear those spring peepers singing once again.

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Hepatica
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Strawberries
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Mullen
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Courtyard onion
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Scarlet elf cap
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Dutchman’s Breeches
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Columbine
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Ramps! (a.k.a. wild leeks)

 

A Child Growing Up

child growing upA Child Growing Up is a one-man show by David Kemp. It explores the bittersweet joys of childhood and has been performed in fifty countries around the world. And now it is about to be performed at Wintergreen on Saturday, May 10. This is Mother’s Day weekend, as it turns out (there are no coincidences…), so its poignant themes are especially relevant. Come for the show and spend the night. We’ll be serving a scrumptious Mother’s Day breakfast on Sunday, May 11.

The dinner-theatre event begins with dinner at 6 pm. Showtime is 7:30 pm. The $40 ticket includes dinner, show, and HST. Feel free to come a bit early and stroll through our gardens (surely it will be spring by May 10!).

For more details, visit our upcoming dinners and events page. You can register for tickets online here.

upcoming eventsDavid Kemp was born in England and trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where two of his classmates were Julie Christie and Lynn Redgrave. When he was in his mid-30s, he emigrated to Canada where he served as a professor at Queen’s University, and continued to work as a professional actor. David Kemp has over 100 productions to his credit, including leading roles in The Beggar’s Opera, Sleuth, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, Hay Fever, The Fantastics, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum as well as in Shakespeare’s Richard the Second, Henry the Fourth, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet.

David toured England in Brian Way’s Theatre Company and has appeared in theatres across Canada. As a director, he has worked in London, Cairo, Colombo and Odense in Denmark. His books have been translated into Swedish, Sinhalla, and Arabic.

bringing balance back