Monday, September 06, 2010

Also known as ...

In the summer, it's a Virgin's Bower, a mound of white flowers above our heads. By fall, it has aged by several decades, and changed its sex to boot, becoming Old Man's Beard; under that name, it drapes itself over local fences and trees, in a dense mat of vines and dusty "beards".

When I came across it in the Nicola Valley, sprawling along the ground at the side of the road, I didn't recognize it. I'd never seen it underfoot.

Without support, it's a ground cover.

This is the clematis native to western North America, growing from BC to California, east to Manitoba and points south. It is a vine that usually grows to 10 feet, although I have seen one that climbed a pine tree to at least double that height.

In the choking smoke of the Nicola Valley, normally so luscious, the plant lived up to its other common name, "Traveller's Joy".

Smoke pouring over the hills, greying the greens, clutching at throats.

(Looking at that photo, I can smell the smoke again. Memory of odors tends to persist.)

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