Hawk Hill, Newfoundland
It was pretty chilly in St. Johns, and Todd Boland (our wonderful host) was dubious we'd find anything blooming on the Hawk Hills, but we proceeded dubiously. As we drove off the blacktop onto the gravel road we marveled at the crisp horizon: it had to be 10C warmer up there than down in town, and there was barely a breeze. I never thought I'd see Todd so surprised! The road had washed horribly, and Todd was a tad nervous maneuvering his coupe through the boulders, but a few hundred feet later we were on the summit, greeted by two fellow rock gardeners who'd decided to visit the same day--and pointed out this clump of Diapensia next to the road: you could have knocked Todd over with a tuft of reindeer moss for a few moments as he gathered his wits. I enjoyed many, many things about Newfoundland (which I shall share anon), but Hawk Hill was literally the summit!
|Loiseleuria procumbens (haul out the microscope)|
|Another Kalmia cushion|
|And here's a closwup of the same...|
On Pontresina one luminous late June day in 1986 I gazed down from the ski lift (sitting next to Ed Connors) onto vast pink cushions of these interspersed with huge cobalt clumps of Gentiana acaulis in full bloom. Hardly anyone was on the slopes that afternoon, and we walked down the mountain among masses of flowers, marveling the whole way. My life has been littered with epiphanies like these: hard to make people pity you, alas.
|Here is the other ecotype of Diapensia--still with winter color.|
|Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)|
Miniscule plants of leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), a ubiiquitous ericad found everywhere in the Maritimes. We'd seen some a meter and more tall a few days earlier near Halifax. It would be fun to grow different ecotypes of this in cultivation to see how they'd develop in a garden: I suspect some of these alpine miniature clones would stay small.
|Pink crowberry (Empetrum eamesii)|
|British Soldier lichen|
Patterned ground of rocks heaved up by solifluction in winter: pretty awesome power of permafrost!
It is hard to convey the majesty of this high tundra--the springy meadows in all directions, dense with a thick mat of lichens, sedges, herbs of all kinds--just amazing! So utterly different from the alpine steppe of Colorado.
It occurred to several of us as we gazed at this alpine pond that it might have inspired the idea of an "infinity pool" margin...
A grove of a half dozen gnarly birch would make great candidates for a bonsai master!
We were a week or two early to see the yellow twin blossoms on this compact, alpine honeysuckle. I saw remarkably similar plants in the Altai Mountains of Kazakhstan.
Todd inspecting a dense mat of Empetrum eamesii--one of the many local specialties of eastern Canada.
I suspect this one could be hundreds of years old.
I admire the tight cushions of conifer like stems on these. It would be fun (but challenging) to grow them in Colorado!
Yet another mystery club moss...
|And more club mosses|
|And even MORE distinctive club mosses|
Juniperus communis--the tightest form I have ever seen!
I had a hard time convincing myself this incredibly tiny mat was the same plant that forms a pencil thin tree in my gardens, and sometimes knee high mounds in the Rockies!
Here you can see it in the distance, making a gray-green swath around the rock!
Get a load of the trunk on this little juniper! I can't imagine its age. A bonsai master would lust to have it!
Here is one of the northern spruces forming a krummholz, also with a strange trunk!
A few other views of the spruce.
It would be most interesting to grow this spruce from graft or cuttings--and see if it stayed tight like this!
Below I conclude with a picture I took of the sun with my little point-and-shoot: I'd never seen a halo around the sun like this except in winter. I believe this is similar to what they call a "sun dog"--and Todd commented he'd never seen one so bright in summer either: Newfoundland is full of wonders!