It didn’t take very long after Raymond and I bought the Manse four years ago for us to figure out that we’d be learning a lot about the natural world around us here in Queensborough. What with raccoon families and porcupines and turtles on the roads, a deer visiting the village, an American bittern by the roadside and also in the marsh that’s right across the way from our house, busy wood-pecking woodpeckers, colourful blue jays, the whippoorwill that I delight to hear on summer evenings, the gorgeous leaves in autumn, and on and on and on – well, let’s just say that our Audubon guides to birds, trees, weeds and so on are getting a workout.
Thanks to eagle-eyed readers, I recently learned about Black Locust trees. I had taken a photo of their amazing blooms one early-June morning as I drove through the crossroads of Hazzards Corners, posted it here with a query about what this striking-looking tree was, and before you can say Jack Robinson I was enlightened. “Those are probably Black Locust trees in blossom. There have been some around Hazzards Church for many years. I remember looking at them through the window when I should have been listening to the sermon,” said reader Doris in a comment. Another reader, Lindi, added: “Yes, definitely, Katherine. Locust trees, with their intoxicating perfume. We had a clump of them in the dooryard of my childhood farm home. The smell of almost-the-end-of-school for the summer!” About all this I have just this to say (as I often have before): Meanwhile, at the Manse readers are the best.
Anyway: a couple of days ago, thanks to our Queensborough friend and neighbour Ed, I learned about another tree that has lovely blossoms and an even lovelier scent.
“Here,” Ed said as he handed me a small blossom he’d picked as he walked toward the Manse. “It comes from the ornamental basswood over there,” angling his head to indicate a tree that’s pretty much right across the street from the Manse. I took the little twiggy thing from him, and inhaled, and the smell was heavenly. Who knew?
As we continued to discuss this tree – immediately adjacent to the striking Tree of Life that Raymond and I admire every single day while (until now) ignoring its interesting neighbour – Ed also informed us that if you stand right under its branches while it’s in bloom you’ll be awed by the sounds of hundreds, if not thousands, of bees buzzing around gathering the nectar from those sweet blossoms. People, I tried that standing-under-the-basswood thing, and it is true: there is just a chorus of bees up there. All doing great work on behalf of Mother Nature.
I turned to my friend the internet and looked up “Ornamental Basswood Ontario,” and here is the helpful site I found. And that bees thing was confirmed, because here is what it says: “Bees love basswood flowers because they bloom in midsummer, when few other trees are in bloom.”
Anyway, I want to say thanks not only to Ed for sharing his basswood knowledge, but to all those people – like Doris, and Lindi, and so many others – who have helped me learn about the plants and birds and trees and animals that we see around us every day out here North of 7. Where I am beginning to think Mother Nature is at her best.