Bowmont Park West lies just south of the Calgary subdivision of Silver Springs.
The park has been “enhanced” with paved paths, planted cultivar trees and shrubs, but not intrusively. Other enhancements are two storm-water settling ponds designed to let heavy materials settle out before the water is returned to the Bow river. Some areas of the park are “off-leash” dog areas, and the most westward pond is fenced for that specific reason. The park is criss crossed by unpaved trails that are heavily used by mountain bikes
The south facing slopes on the bow river escarpments preserve the original prairie ecology, although some invasive plant species can be found here. Prairie ecosystems consist predominantly of grass, interspersed with herbs, shrubs and clumps of trees. Near the Bow river a riverine ecosystem takes over.
Today March 27, 2016 I found the first signs of spring. The prairie crocus is popping up all over south facing slopes in southern Alberta
Aspen seed pods or catkins where glowing, backlit by the sun. Spring is here?
Flowers are distinctly male or female, male typically 2 to 3 cm, female 4 to 10 cm. Aspen thrive in moist, well drained soils rich in calcium. Limestone based soils. Click on this link for more information Nature Alberta Plant Watch.
April 10, 2016. Walked down “Waterfall” Valley in Bowmont Park today. Not much foliage yet, only prairie crocus flowers were observed. Trees seem almost ready to burst into leaf, but are probably a bit hesitant. April 10 is very early to leaf out and blizzards are not unheard of in early May. From the tree’s perspective it is probably better to keep the buds closed a little longer. The generations of valley trees have passed on several thousand years of experience !
With so little foliage, the Silver Springs Waterfalls were the highlight of the walk. Below some pictures with notes on the geology of the springs and the waterfalls.
April 16, 2016 – I had another look at the flowers appearing on the south facing slopes of Bowmont Park, and walked with my camera and tripod along the escarpment just south of Silver Crest Drive. First flower I encountered was the Golden Bean (Thermopsis rhombifolia), the natives name is Buffalo Bean, named because it signalled the timing for the first bull buffalo hunt of the year, when the prairies were still unspoiled, before the 1880’s. Alberta Plant Watch has an interesting article on it. It normally flowers from mid May to June. This year it is very early!
I had a second look at the Prarie Crocus, the plants have matured quite a bit since I first spotted them on March 27. Again, Alberta Plant Watch has easy to read information on this species complete with a charming native legend.
I also saw the first Three Headed Avens, Latin name: Geum Triflorum, also known as Prairie Smoke Avens or Old Man’s Whiskers. This North American prairie plant is common in southern Alberta, but Alberta Plant Watch did not have any information on it. The plant roots were used by native Americans for its medicinal properties. Roots were boiled, and the tea was used to treat sore throat, the extract was used as a wound dressing.
May 4, 2016 – Today I had another look at the early spring in Bowmont park. The Saskatoon berry blossoms were out in force.
Latin Name: Amelanchier alnifolia – also known as juneberry, shadbush, indian pear, serviceberry, chuckley pear and in french “Petit Poires”.
Alberta Plantwatch has quite a bit of information on the saskatoon on their website. The western variety typically grows to a sizeable shrub. The edible berries are similar to blue berries and were the most important plant food for the Blackfoot native tribes in pre-treaty times. Summer camps were moved to good picking areas on the prairies. The dried berries were a major ingredient in “Pemmican”, a combination of dried pulverized meat, animal fat and berries. The name derives from the Cree name “mis-ask-quah-toomina” which European settlers morphed into “saskatoon”
Although this plant’s common name is Wolf Willow, it is not a willow at all. It is part of the Oleaster family. Flowers normally appear around late May to early June. Fruits ripen in August – September and the distinctive white berries often stay on the stem all winter.
May 28, 2016 – Went for another walk to document the plant progress and got to see more birds as well.