Photo of the week: the flowers of the North


Most of us think of the Arctic as a barren place, endless acres of bare rock blasted by brutal winds. And there is a lot of rock in the Northern landscape. But in the spaces between, in the long days of summer, life springs up in every available niche. Sometimes it’s hard to see: while the animals in the North grow big, the plants grow small. But it’s there, growing out of the peat and the sand and sometimes, the solid rock.

Most of it is what we’d call ground cover. But there are tiny shrubs, and small, sinewy willows, creeping along the ground to take shelter from the wind. There are plants that yield berries: crowberies and cloudberries and blueberries.  And there are flowers, from yellow buttercups to white chamomile to pale Arctic poppies. But most common is the dwarf fireweed seen here, bursting into bloom wherever it can find a foothold. In this case, it found a home among the lichen on a bare rock near Cape Dorset, Nunavut, set off by delicate white Labrador tea (click on the photo to see it full-sized).

In a place where few gardeners would attempt to plant a flower bed, nature has made a rock garden. These flowers of the North prove once again that life will prevail, even when the elements seem impossible. And sometimes, it produces a thing of beauty — a hopeful lesson for us all.

This photo was taken with the Nikon 1 J5 camera. 

I was a guest of Nikon Canada and Adventure Canada on this trip. However, the opinions expressed are my own.



About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.


  1. Thanks for commenting, Maarten. Yes, the surprise of seeing these little bits of colour in a harsh landscape seems to make them even more beautiful. Near this spot there was actually a little field of purple flowers, something iI never expected to see. There were butterflies there, as well, but I never managed to get a photo.
    Paul Marshman recently posted…Photo of the week: the flowers of the NorthMy Profile

    • Thanks, Roberta. Yes, it is — I really wasn’t expecting anything like this in the Arctic. I’d heard there were little flowers there, but here and there they seemed downright showy.

Leave A Reply

CommentLuv badge