Who knew that a fen system, one of the rarest types of ecosystems in the world, can be found on the west coast of the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario? The Oliphant fen system is, as you might guess, right next door to the tiny hamlet of Oliphant. A fen is a wetland created by fresh groundwater that bubbles up and slowly, very slowly, moves towards the shoreline. The Oliphant fen is also constantly adapting to Lake Huron’s water levels as they rise and fall over the years. Surprisingly, this delicate environment shelters an amazing variety of wildflowers that put on a jaw-dropping display from spring through late fall but it’s in September and October that I love the fen best. Maybe it’s the creepy Pitcher plant, poised to devour an unsuspecting fly, or the gossamer gentians with petals that look like lilac-shadowed eyelids, lashes and all. The show is almost over for this year but next spring, the fen will be back in full once again.
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