You thought I was talking about oil or wheat but I was talking about Canola. We on the prairies get to experience the yellow glimmering fields of canola flowers nearer to the summer. Endless fields of rich yellow warmth swaying in the prairie winds, often at times yellow for as far as your eye can see.
I was intrigued with the yellow fields and on a couple of walks with the dogs I got a chance to see up close and personal how these fields grow. I was really surprised for a couple of reasons and I realized perspective is everything. It was a good reminder that things are not always as they seem, true in plants and in our lives.
The fields have an abundant hue of yellow dancing in the wind, our eyes can see that right before us – giving the illusion of a bumper crop of canola. In some fields this is probably the case but in the field I was in, this was only an illusion.
Upon closer inspection I saw interspersed with the canola – weeds. Not just any weeds but thistles. Oh these Scottish bonny plants are fun to look at but not so fun in a garden or field. Thistles have been called an invasive weed and they have sharp thorns or prickles on the leaves and on some variations all over the plant. Animals will not eat them for this very reason.
But again perspective is everything – while gardeners and farmers alike do not wish to have them in their gardens, a row of thistles on the perimeter can keep out those pesky garden eating animals. Thistles are a great source of nectar to honey bees, gold finches, butterflies and other insects.
The legendary Scottish thistle legend says that an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army's encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders. (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thistle).
Perspective – is the thistle a pest or a friend?
(read the conclusion of Prairie Gold next Wednesday)