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Maitland River (Goderich)

Maitland River (Goderich)

Yesterday I was uploading and organizing pictures of the plants along the Maitland River, and the harbour beach in Goderich where we visited 2 weekends ago. That day was calm - in what is called Ontario's "Prettiest Town". As corny is it sounds, it really is beautiful small town, with an octagonal road around the Court House and old architecture everywhere you look. You still see swaths of cosmos in front of well maintained porches - everyone takes pride in their yard and it shows with all the bloom.


But this morning I woke up and the radio said this beautiful town's centre was hit with a F3 Tornado yesterday, 1 salt mine worker (the man operating the loading boom) killed and 37 injured. My heart sank. The pictures show all the huge trees around the court house (the town market square) ripped apart - nothing left except the building, minus its windows. Second stories of old store fronts crashing bricks onto the street. I have a soft spot for Goderich. My parents would drop me off there as a teenager, because... it was the only place around here I could get Irish concertina lessons once a year (yep, that is what I wanted to do at 16). There is a large Celtic festival and college every year in the Harbour Park, which is right in the path of the tornado as it ripped up the hill from the Lake Huron beach to the town's centre. Every year I go back with the kids for the festival, but first I make a trip down to the Maitland River to see the plants. So looking back at that peaceful day, before the destruction:

Home of a large salt mine alongside the beach. It's a quiet area - no bars or restaurants - just an ice cream stand a a fish and chip wagon. I hate to think what is left of it now, if anything. But Goderich is the type of community that will rebuild with everything they have.

Down by the Maitland River the landscape is quite different - limestone and even large pieces of tufa in the cliffs.

Lets just skip to why I bother going down to this river, every year. I can never get too much of pinguiculas.

These flat, unsuspecting bug catchers (pinguicula vulgaris) stick out with their lime green colouring, and if I would have come earlier, their fancy purple flowers. Even without the flowers they look dramatic on the lichen covered rocks. These plants aren't all over the place, just in a small area where the conditions are just right - most importantly the right moisture drizzling down the side of the calcareous cliff.

Some areas are drizzling wet:

Primula mistassinica is our only native primrose, with delicate lavender blooms in early spring. It likes it moist and even has tufa to grow on here on the Maitland. I have some tufa chunks sunk half way into my bog at home and it happily self seeds in and around the rocks.

Lobelia kalmii heavily sprinkled along little pockets of the river. This little guy has grown well in my bog.

A pure white sport!

Campanula rotundifolia

Parnassia glauca - my favourite plant (ever) - its shape, delicate translucent lines....just perfect.

Lycopsis arvensis (Small Bugloss)

This is, I'm sure, is what my dad would call "another weed". We have this fight continually. Sometimes he's right - some of our native plants are invasive demons or introductions....on the other hand there are many underused plants that deserve a little more respect. Although this plant looks intriguing in the crevice, it probably has garden hose runners (or maybe not?), whatever it is.

A patch of Woodbine (Clematis virginiana) creeping along the ledges.

A bit of Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), with its old linen flowers.

Is this Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum)? If it is, it seems desperate for a a grasp of a wet area to thrive... looks a little odd...


Centaurea ??. Doesn't seem to match any of the descriptions of the native plants - perhaps a garden escapee who found a nice home.

I love the flouncy Lysmachia quadrifolia (Prairie Loosestrife). Surprised it (and other lysmachias) aren't in the regular nursery trade. I have a very tame Fringed loosestrife in my garden - never seeds or runs and is only about 30cm high, loaded with these delicate flowers when the rest of the garden is getting pretty flowerless. Take the "loosestrife" out of it's common name and the plant would get a lot more love from the general public.

Achillea millefolium squeezing out of the cliff --trying to be an alpine.

Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) = delicious - even if it is an introduction/weed.

A damselfly on the Maitland that my daughter spotted on our way back up the path.

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