November Beauty in Burnaby’s Kensington Park: A Photo Walk


Hydrangea flowers in November with deer fern

Although November isn’t my favourite time of year, nature still offers attractions where I live. In September and much of October, the landscape in my part of the world is filled with colour. Vibrant autumn leaves decorate trees. A significant number of plants are still in bloom or even produce flowers for the first time in the year. By the time November arrives, however, a lot of the colour has disappeared. Dark green, pale yellow, brown, and grey predominate. If someone knows where to look, though, colourful and attractive plants can still be found.

Kensington Park is located near my home. It’s a community park that contains multiple sports facilities. The parts of the park that interest me the most are the large area of grass and trees and the cultivated plant beds between the grass and a main road. These areas contains photo-worthy scenes throughout the year. I took the photos in this article on November 5th—Guy Fawkes Day in Britain, where I grew up.


Deer fern beside hydrangeas with fallen leaves

It’s surprising how long some hydrangea blooms last, even for those varieties that bloom in the fall. The plants in the photos above are past their prime, but they are still attractive. I like the delicate shades of the flowers backed by the gentle colours of the fallen leaves. The genus Hydrangea contains many species. Some hydrangea flowers are a vibrant red or blue colour while others are paler. Some have flowers that change colour based on the soil pH, as I describe in a previous post about hydrangeas.

Deer fern (Blechnum spicant) grows in the wild, but cultivated varieties exist as well. The plant produces different types of fronds. The sterile fronds have two rows of dense leaflets, one on each side of the midline of the frond. The fronds form a slightly flattened rosette. The sterile fronds are upright and bear fewer leaflets. In addition, their leaflets are narrower than the ones on the sterile stems. A fertile frond can be seen in the middle right section of the first photo above and in the upper right quadrant of the second one.


Deciduous colour

Although many trees are bare in the first week of November, not all of them are. A few still bear a considerable number of leaves. I found this attractive patch of colour in one corner of Kensington Park. Deep orange or red are my favourite autumn leaf colours, so I was pleased to see the tree.

During my visit to the park, I was surprised to see some beautiful purple berries next to some western sword fern (Polystichum munitum). Like deer fern, the sword fern grows in the wild but is also available in cultivated varieties. I’ve never noticed the berries in the park before. I’m going to follow the life cycle of the plant carefully and get more photos of it. The shrub that bears the berries is called beautyberry, or Callicarpa americana. It’s shown below. The berries are said to persist into early winter. The flowers of the shrub are pink.


I think the scene below is attractive despite the fact that it’s not brightly coloured. I like the different colours of the leaf veins and the way in which they stand out on the leaves. The leaves make an interesting contrast to the white and skeletal stems in the bottom right corner of the photo.

The plant is a smoke tree (genus Cotinus). It produces a beautiful and fluffy collection of tiny pink flowers, which look like a puff of smoke. The thin white stems in the photo below once held the flowers. I’ll photograph the plant again when it’s in bloom. I think the fall leaves are just as beautiful as the flowers, though.


Patterned leaves and skeletal stems

A shopping centre is located across the road from one side of Kensington Park. A small group of crows patrol the parking lot of the centre and the park. It seems to be very worthwhile for them to frequent the area.

I was eating my lunch at a picnic table when the bird below visited me.  The crow stayed at the edge of the table for some time, probably hoping that I would share some of my lunch. He or she didn’t mind me talking to them at all. Eventually they left, but I soon noticed a crow looking down at me from a nearby tree. Whether it was the same bird or not, it was probably looking to see if I was leaving so that it could fly down to search for crumbs.

Crows are clever birds. They can be a nuisance if they get into garbage, so it’s important to store waste in a secure bin. When this precaution is followed, though, I enjoy watching and meeting them.

The grassy area of Kensington Park is shown behind the crow. The cultivated area where small trees, shrubs, flowers, and ferns have been planted is in the background.

Crow at lunch

A northwestern crow on my picnic table

The bee condo is one of my favourite parts of the park. In summer, a “condo” for blue orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) is attached to the top of the post shown in the photo.  I’ve described these bees in a previous post on this blog. The condo has rows of small openings for the bees to build a nest. In nature, they are attracted to holes and tubes. They seem to do well in artificial bee houses. Supporting bees is important because of their pollination abilities.


A stand for a blue orchard mason bee condo plus information about the insects

The background of the photo above shows the hues that I see for much of the winter. Even in the middle of winter, though, some colour can be found. The search may require some effort, but I find that it’s often very worthwhile. Nature and cultivated plants often have surprises for me throughout the year.