As this is the last post in my "best of 2016" series I am going to tell a bit of a different story. This is still a story about finding one of my fave wildflowers for the first time, but it is also tied into the story of how PTBO Flora was born.
Sometimes my first encounter with a wildflower is not in the field, but online. Before developing PTBO Flora, I had started to feature wildflowers on my personal Instagram feed. When I moved to Peterborough from Toronto I was, quite frankly, bored and felt isolated. Like any newcomer, I didn't know anyone in Peterborough, and while I knew about the great parks in or near the city I didn't drive. Living in large cities I had never needed a car, so I never got a licence. But I found that cycling and taking the bus can only take you so far in Peterborough. Eventually I met some amazing people, including my partner who I later moved in with. As amazing as it was to start a life together, when he wasn't home again I found myself isolated and bored in our north end home. I had always lived downtown, even in Peterborough, where everything was nearby - from shops to restaurants to entertainment to friends and more. Now I found myself, basically, in the suburbs. And I was starting to get cabin fever.
Fortunately my suburb has a park. I started visiting it nearly every single day, sometimes more than once, watching the wildflowers come and go over the course of the seasons. While I had spent a decade living in large metropolises, growing up in a smaller city in southern Ontario I had spent a lot of time adventuring in nature with my very outdoorsy parents. Serendipitously, moving to the the suburb rekindled my relationship with nature. Perhaps predictably, wildflowers eventually took over my Instagram feed entirely!
My partner encouraged me to do something more with all the wildflower specimens I had observed, something more than just posting on Instagram. And so, I began work on a compendium of local flora while also continuing to share my flora finds to Instagram and seeing what fellow flora enthusiasts were sharing. My boredom and isolation was replaced by wildflower and an amazing online community of fellow flora appreciators.
And that is how I first saw a curious blue bloom - with its flowers that never opened - on Instagram. Knowing that it had been found locally, I excitedly asked the person who had posted a photo of the flowers where they had stumbled upon a patch of these blue beauties.
I found bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), as promised, along the banks of the Otonabee River.
See my other faves from 2016 here.
News, reflections, notes and other ramblings from the trail by PTBO Flora founder Rachel.