One of the things that most impresses me about exploring a new place in our vast country is the diverse wildflowers. While there are many flowers that can be found in multiple provinces, the distinctions are rather fascinating. Many of the flowers I have discovered growing wild on Cape Breton I am accustomed to seeing planted in gardens. Seeing them here, wild and growing in great numbers is a delight, and demonstrates that they are certainly thriving in this ecosystem. Let’s take a wander through a few of the wildflowers of Cape Breton.
Lupines greeted us in June and remained into July. Their cheery white, purple, and pink heads lined the roadsides in abundance. Lupines are one of those prolific wildflowers that I have observed in various areas across the country, in the Rocky Mountains, around the Great Lakes, and now, here on Cape Breton.
The buds of the wild roses teased us for a long time before suddenly bursting into bloom one day in mid July. Their scent in these magnificent numbers is stunning…thousands upon thousands of blooms. I have observed wild roses growing truly wild in only one other location in Canada, in and around Calgary. I had thought that they enjoyed the dry heat and meadows of Alberta, but here we are at a cooler average summer temperature and with a little more humidity, and they are abundant. Some of the staff here have been enjoying drying wild rose buds for tea, as well as gathering flower petals for making a brightly coloured rose jelly.
Irises love marshy areas; we’ve found quite a number growing near the ocean or Indian Brook throughout July and into August now. The variety here is a brilliant purple.
Sweetpeas grow abundantly on the cobbley beaches of Cabot Shores and the surrounding area from June throughout July. They tend to be a lovely merge of pink and purple, moving happily in the wind by the sea. I am intrigued by their love of growing in the rocks, and in the constant wind, in such number.
Fireweed is lovely and tall and also purple. Many of the stalks grow to five or six feet in height amongst the tall grass. I have recently learned that fireweed is edible. Young leaves can be eaten like spinach before the flowers bloom, and both the blossoms and the leaves once the flowers are out in full are lovely for tea.
We look forward to more wild flowers continuing to arrive throughout these warmer months and to perfume the sea air.