The Home Bug Garden is getting there, though, and has a few beauties of its own. The Buffalo Currants (Ribes odoratum) and Golden Currents (Ribes aureum) are our alternative to forsythia (an iffy plant in this climate) – covered in attractive yellow blossoms in early spring and with the added delights of a clove-like fragrance and tasty black berries. Some people think these two very similar plants are the same species and the USDA database lists the former as a variety of the latter. There is a difference that some might think important, however; Buffalo Currant (Ribes aureum var villosum) is not considered ‘native’ to Alberta, although Golden Currant (Ribes aureum var aureum) is. UPDATE - Just checked our two forms and the picture was mislabelled - now corrected to Buffalo Currant, which seems to have brighter orange dots in the flower centre and long hairs on the leaf petiole (and hence, one assumes, villosum) that are absent in Golden Currant.
Meanwhile we have some interesting beetles showing up, most more or less native as far as I know, if ‘native’ means apparently living in Alberta before European people arrived (but not too much earlier unless they fed on ice). The willow (actually an exotic Golden Willow – Salix alba probably ‘Vitellina’) seems to be supporting an interesting array of ‘native’ chrysomelid beetles. According to Laurent Lesage, a specialist on leaf beetles at the Canadian National Collection, the Chrysomelidae has about 50,000 known species of which about 1% (566) are known to occur in Canada and Alaska. Several of these are introduced pests – like the all too common and diverse flea beetles – and some are someone else’s problem, like the striking 12-spotted asparagus beetle (we don’t grow asparagus, so we just enjoy the beetle as it passes through to wreck havoc on a neighbour). The ‘native’ willow beetles can do a fair amount of damage too, but not so much that the willow seems to suffer – it is growing far too well and putting on at least a metre a year.