BBY002 :: Spiræa douglasii

Rose spirea, hardhack, Douglas spirea, steeplebush. Another member of the rose family (see 001 last week), this native bush produces beautiful fuzzy flowers all around the lake for much of the summer. I’ve seen red-winged blackbirds sitting in the dried upper branches eating the seeds.

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird eating rose spirea seeds

While native, bountiful, and beautiful in North America, this species is considered invasive in Europe!

Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 17:55 at the all-weather field trailhead. About 9’ (2.7 m) tall.

Art by Nelson Spies, September 17, 2020. Coloured pencil on medium surface paper.

BBY001 :: Sorbus scopulina

The first species on my observation list from Burnaby Lake is the mountain-ash tree. This is one of my favourite trees as I have had one in my backyard since I was young. Every fall it attracts all kinds of birds with its red berries.

I first wrote down the species of this specimen as S. scopulina, the local native “western” or “Greene’s” mountain-ash, but looking further makes me think it might one of several species or even a cross. Similar trees include S. sitchensis (Sitka mountain-ash) or S. aucuparia (European mountain-ash). More info from E-Flora BC, UBC.

A member of the rose family, Rosaceae, this is the first of many plants we will see in that distinction. It’s funny, knowing so little about taxonomy, I didn’t realize so many plants were of that family. I came across a Robert Frost:

The rose is a rose,

And was always a rose.

But now the theory goes

That the apple’s a rose,

And the pear is, and so’s

The plum, I suppose.

The dear only knows

What will next prove a rose.

You, of course, are a rose,

But were always a rose.

Robert Frost, “The Rose Family” Public Domain Poetry

I’ve seen this tree everywhere around the lake, but more often in the southern area between the sports centre and the wildlife rescue.

Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 17:50 at the all-weather field trailhead. About 8’ (2.4 m) tall, with several trunk stalks from the ground.

Art by Nelson Spies, August 20, 2020. Watercolour pencil on paper.

Introductions and Introspections

As I kick off Park Canvass, you may want to know who am I? What am I going for?

The project name

“Canvass” is a word to describe surveying, probing for information, as opposed to “Canvas,” a fibrous woven material often used for paintings. I combine the meaning of both words in my project title. Although I don’t want to limit future episodes of this project to parks, the word “Park” can apply to most open spaces outdoors.

Who am I?

I’m Nelson, a fledgling mechatronics designer with too many ambitions. One of the many reasons I started this project in a more formal, professional format was to force myself to focus. And focusing on a public project that encompasses art, photography, hiking, science, social media, and graphics seemed like a good compromise between the necessary pressure of production and my scattered interests.

I work at a Vancouver tech startup and I bike to work when the weather’s nice. Whatever interesting things I’m not doing at work I’m doing in my free time, such as cooking, painting, photography, and playing music.

What’s the plan? The plan is always evolving. Basically, I will research as many species of plant or animal or fungus as I have observed at my Park Canvass location (currently Burnaby Lake). I will try to determine the species, whether it’s native or introduced, and find some interesting facts that I hope you will appreciate. I or a collaborator will draw or paint that specimen for some added creativity. Then I’ll post each entry on Instagram, Flickr, and here with varying levels of detail. The schedule is up for debate, although I had initially dreamed of daily posts.