Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

When I first moved here I did what I always do, travel around the less used roads to get a feeling for the area. This area is quite different from where I had moved from (greater Vancouver) and the pace is slower.  It feels more like the area I grew up in, more rural and yet near a big city. Every season brings new things to learn about and experience that are different from anywhere I have been. One of the wonders are the delicate Lilies which grow along the roads and are in bloom right now.  Here the Erythronium oregonum used to be called the Easter Lilly. Now we call them White Fawn or WhiteTrout Lillies.

Erythronium oreganum Known as the White Fawn Lily.

Erythronium oreganum Known as the White Fawn Lily.

Children would pick arm loads of White Fawn Lillies and give them to their teachers because they they grew in such massive quantities. In some places they still grow thickly. Along Southgate Street which parallels Beacon Hill Park is a densely growing area of them which are readily seen as you  walk or drive between Blanchard and Quadra Street. They are truly spectacular and many people who visit the area stop and ask what they are and then just have to take some pictures.

Erygonium oregonum along Southgate Street in Victoria.

Erygonium oregonum along Southgate Street in Victoria.

We are truly blessed on the west coast of North America with having 23 of the 27 known species of Erythronium. They range from pure white to a strong yellow as well as pink and shades of these colors. Vancouver Island has 4 species; oregonum and montanum are white, revolutum is pink and grandiflorum represents the yellows.  Erythronium oregonum is the most common around this area.

The Attractive Mottled Foliage of of the White Fawn Lily.

The Attractive Mottled Foliage of of the White Fawn Lily.

There are many things that make Erythronium oregonum a choice plant for anywhere it would grow, the delicate flowers which dangle down high above the foliage, the foliage itself with it’s lovely yet subtle green and maroon tones, and the delicate seedpods which blow in the wind and are the only sign later that this plant has been here at all.  It is said that ‘John Burroughs’ named the species ‘Fawn Lily’ because he felt the leaves reminded him of the ears of a fawn. Most People think the name refers to the mottled leaves which is similar to the spotting and streaking on young  fawns which help them to hide better from predators. I think the White Trout Lily name comes from similar reasons.

White Fawn Lillies Growing Along a Road in North Saanich.

White Fawn Lillies Growing Along a Road in North Saanich.

Erythronium oregonum is definitely a connoisseur plant which we all dream about having in our garden, having said that, I know this is not an easy plant to grow. If you are lucky enough to have them already in your yard, you are indeed blessed. Last year I found one coming up in a area I had planted 10 years before, what a surprise. I already see it is blooming this year in the same spot. I truly hope it will spread itself and grow amongst the maroon colored Hellebores I have planted in the same area.

Southgate Erygonium oregonum Lily Field.

Southgate Erygonium oregonum Lily Field.

White Fawn Lillies are best grown in a site like which they come from. These are plants which grow in dappled sun, under deciduous trees. They need lots of moisture in their growing season which is in the first part of the year and then drier for the time that the seeds are ripening(if you want them) which is June and later.  they are fairly tolerant of soil types as long as it’s not chalky and dry. They of course need rich soil which is well drained as these are very deeply rooted plants. It is best to acquire these plants form a reputable nursery which does not collect them from the wild.

The Delicate Highlights of Maroon and Yellow Seen in White Trout Lily Blosssoms.

The Delicate Highlights of Maroon and Yellow Seen in White Trout Lily Blossoms.

Many areas where Erythronium oregonum live are being bulldozed to make way for city and road growth, fortunately for us there have been many areas set aside for the protection of native species. We are also becoming more aware of the beauty in which we live in and more of us are respectful of the sites where these and other rare local plants live.  Right now amongst the White Fawn Lillies you might find the delicate magenta Dodecatheon blooming and then very soon it will be the spectacular blue Camas which takes over.

Links to This Week’s Featured Plant:

A list of all the Erythroium which grow throughout the world and links to pages about them.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Erythronium

A little about growing Erythroniums and something about the meaning of the name.

http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/nativeplants/Erythronium_oregonum.html

Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. http://www.beaconhillpark.com/

Until We Meet Again Later This Week…..

Read Full Post »

When I was going to college in Vancouver in 1989 my mother came to visit me. While she was staying with me we decided to go to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden which had recently opened in Vancouver. It was built using the traditional techniques used during the Ming period in China. While were there admiring and learning about the construction we spotted a low shrub like tree with an enormous bizarre seedpod hanging from it. The seedpod had split open and the brilliant vermilion seeds were exposed and some of them were hanging down on sticky threads. We asked what kind of plant it was and were told it was a Magnolia.

he Fuzzy Perule Protects the Delicate Magnolia kobus Flowers Inside.

The Fuzzy Perule Protects the Delicate Magnolia kobus Flowers Inside.

Magnolias which are very common in this area.  Many spectacular Magnolias blooming at this time of the year  owe their parentage in part to the Magnolia kobus (Kobushi Magnolia) and there is a spectacular Kobus Magnolia at Dominion Brook Park which I eagerly look forward to seeing in bloom each year, and the time is now!

Kobus Magnolia in Bloom.

Kobus Magnolia in Bloom.

When I was in School at that time we spent a lot of time at Park & Tilford Garden where we did our practicum and has a large collection of other Magnolias. There I was able to study many Magnolia species but not  the Kobus Magnolia. I stumbled upon the one I am writng about because I frequently go to visit local parks searching for wonderful plant specimens to photograph.  The location of this Magnolia kobus is hard to miss when it is flower. It’s located next to the sunken garden which is across from the main pond.

Magnificant Magnolia kobus at Dominion Brook Park.

Magnificant Magnolia kobus at Dominion Brook Park.

Magnolias are fascinating as they look like they come from a different age and they do, they are older than most plants that inhabit the earth. They are thought to have evolved in the Tertiary period 2 to 65 million years ago.  They are a more primitive plant as their flowers attest to. Magnolias are unusual in that they have tepals which are neither petals or sepals(confused yet?), but look just like petals. The flower stamens and pistols are arranged in rings which encircle the stigmatic column where the seed is produced. Magnolias evolved over millions of years when there were only beetles to do the pollination. Beetle pollinated flowers are generally very large, white pink or red in color and have copious amounts of pollen which is a rich food source for them. They usually do not have nectar or fragrance (some Magnolias including kobus have a light scent).  The thick unusual seedpod carpals are designed to protect the embryonic seeds from the beetles.

A Closer Look at a Magnolia kobus Blossom.

A Closer Look at a Magnolia kobus Blossom.

Kobus or Kobushi Magnolia is a common tree throughout Japan and is found locally on the island of Cheju-do (Quelpart Island) on the southern coast of South Korea.  This Magnolia was introduced in to North America first in 1861 by Dr. George Hall of Rhode Island. Other seeds where later sent to Arnold Arboretum in 1876 which had been collected from trees in Sapporo by William Clark. Magnolia kobus was finally brought to  England in 1879 by Charles Maries, the famous plant explorer. The seed he brought back were grown at the world renowned Veitch’s Nursery.  The different seed sources has lead to the variability in the species in cultivation which I have seen here in Victoria.

One of Several Magnolia kobus Planted Along Linden St. in Victoria.

One of Several Magnolia kobus Planted Along Linden St. in Victoria.

Magnolia kobus are are probably the most spectacular of hardy all hardy trees with their fantastic blossoms. Thiss is a good tree to select for home gardens as it is smaller than many other Magnolias. It is particularly hardy for Magnolias and is known to withstand temperatures of -30c(-25f) for short period,but is safer to plant no lower than zone 5 . Kobus Magnolia are also more tolerant of different types of soil, only suffering when planted in thin dry soils. It is best if they have deep, moisture retentive soils which are humusy.  These are forest trees which prefer part shade but can grow in full sun.

The Delicate Buds of Magnolia kobus Can be Damaged by Late Frosts.

The Delicate Buds of Magnolia kobus Can be Damaged by Late Frosts.

You have to be patient for the first bloom as these trees are usually 12 or 15 before they first bloom. One thing you have to keep in mind with all Magnolias is they have very brittle roots and do not like being moved so much care must be taken in the process of choosing a site and planting. Later the fragile roots can be damaged by careless cultivation under the tree.

Links for this article:

More about Magnolias(great seedpod picture too).  http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Magnolia

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver. http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/

Dominion Brook Park is where you can see this tree.

http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Parks_and_Trails/Parks_Information/Municipal_Parks/Dominion_Brook_Park.htm

Until  We meet Again ….

Read Full Post »

I was fortunate to have spent much of my childhood out at the lake near the town we lived in. We spent weeks at the lake exploring it in the summer. I got to know every single native plant which grew there and we (my brothers and I) had our own imaginary gardens which had wild flowers… and what flowers we had!  When I came from the cold(zone3) to the Vancouver area(zone8) I had to learn a new group of native plants which grew on the coast. One of the most striking is Ribes sanguineum or Red Flowering Currant.

Red Flowerin Currant is Well Named.

Red Flowering Currant is Well Named.

The Red Flowering Currant is one of our showiest native plants and was introduced into cultivation by David Douglas (1799-1834) who had a short life but a huge impact in the world of horticulture. After starting work as a gardener at 11, he went on to apprentice at the gardens of Sir Robert Preston who had an incredible plant collection. after training at the botanical gardens at Glasgow University and the with the Royal Horticultural Society in London, he was sent to collect plant material in North America. He was quickly sponsored to go to the west coast by the Hudson’s Bay company who had a settlement at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River.

A Paler Form of Red Flowering Currant, Possibly 'Tydman's White'.

A Paler Form of Red Flowering Currant, Possibly 'Tydman's White'.

Archibald Menzies had first discovered  Ribes sanguineum in1793 but it was introduced by David Douglas in 1826.  As you can imagine Red Flowering Currant was a great hit and is extensively used in gardens and parks in many areas now.  Since the original plant material has been introduce many fine forms have been selected ranging from the darkest red “King Edward IIV’  through pinks to the purest white ‘Icicle’.  there is even a golden leaved form ‘Brocklebankii’.

The Darkest Form Seen Here, 'King Edward IIV'

The Darkest Form Seen Here, 'King Edward IIV'

Ribes sanguineum is a small to medium size shrub which tends to have an upright form making it an easy plant to place in the garden.  it also lacks the thorns that many of the species have, which is why there is one placed in the children’s garden at Glendale Garden. I am sure the bright flowers and interesting maple-like foliage are interesting to kids who see it in the corner. Later it will produce a small crop of small dark fruit which is not very tasty unlike other Currants.

The Red Flowering Currant in the Childerns' Garden.

The Red Flowering Currant in the Childerns' Garden.

Growing Ribes sanguineum is easy.  One of the best plantings I see nearly every day is at the corner of Swartz Bay Rd and Wain Rd where the overpass is. If you are stopped waiting to turn onto Wain Rd from the overpass there, look across the road and see the Red Flowering Currants blooming right now.  This spot has no maintenance during the year except maybe some trimming of the shrubs. They can take full sun to fairly shaded locations, the only effect will be a more loose open plant in the shade.

The Largest Red Flowering Currant on the Corner of Wain Rd.

The Largest Red Flowering Currant on the Corner of Wain Rd.

Ribes sangiuneum will take any soil  which has some extra humus added to retain moisture during the dry months of summer and autumn here. Any park will have one or two planted. Pioneer Square (the Quadra Street cemetery) has a planting of pale pink and white ones along the back in deep shade which bloom very well.

Several of the Flowering Currants at Pioneer Square in Victoria.

Several of the Flowering Currants at Pioneer Square in Victoria.

Red Flowering Currants can be used in many situations such as in a shrub or perennial border, mass plantings, woodland settings of course and as  specimen in a early spring garden as the foliage is attractive the rest of the seasons.  Since there is a good range of  flower colors to choose from placing one of these will go with most color schemes. Their natural range is quite wide, from Southern California up into Alaska and east through Montana.  They are quite hardy(zone 6- 9) and tolerate -20c(-5f)  making it possible for these plants to be featured in most areas of the world.

Fruit and Foliage of Ribes sanguineum.

Fruit and Foliage of Ribes sanguineum.

Links For This Weeks Subject:

A little more on Red Flowering Currants http://www.habitas.org.uk/gardenflora/ribes_sanguineum.htm

On David Douglas who introduced Red Flowering Currants in 1827: http://www.plantsystematics.org/reveal/PBIO/LnC/douglas.html

Archibald Menzies who first found the plant and named it in 1793. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archibald_Menzies

Read Full Post »

In the Great Victoria we a blessed to have many parks and rural areas which we can explore, often the nearest ones are the places that are overlooked.  I had been to Dominion Brook Park near where I live several times with my sister and her son to play and explore the large safe. It was only later when I took my father to see the park that I realized what interesting plants were there.  In reading about the history of the park this is not surprising. It has one of the oldest plant collections in the area. It dates back to 1913 when it was established by the then Canadian Department of Agriculture as a demonstration arboretum and ornamental garden for the public to enjoy.

Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich.

Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich.

Dominion Brook Park  still has significant collections of conifers, Hollies, Camellia and Rhododendrons which were imported from some of the most famous nurseries in the world. If you go to the park at this time and look across the main pond you will be surprised to see a fiery red Rhododendron blooming and sometimes reflected in the still water. This is one of the original Rhododendron which was brought from Arnold Arboretum by Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson to give to the new park. The red  Rhododendron strillgilosum is one of the species he discovered in his plant collecting trips in China which he became famous for.

 

Brillant Red Blossoms of Rhododendron strigillosum.

Brillant Red Blossoms of Rhododendron strigillosum.

 

 

Rhododendron strillgilosum overlooking the pond.

Rhododendron strillgilosum overlooking the pond at Dominion Brook Park.

Rhododendron strigillosum is a dramatic sight to behold at this time of the year and is a break from all the yellows, whites and other pastel colors that seem to dominate  now. The red coloring stands out from the other early blooming rhododendrons such as  sutcheunense(pink), dauricum(mauve) and moupinense(white to pale pink). the species is not too common to find and you will have to look in an specialty garden or collection. What is common are the hybrids from this strigillosum which bear definite resemblance to the parent and several have become famous in their own right.  Etta Burrow, Grace Seabrook, Malahat, and Taurus are but a few which are commonly seen in gardens in this area.

Rhododendron stigillosum is Loaded with Blooms.

Rhododendron strigillosum is Loaded with Blooms.

Rhododendron stigillosum is easy to recognize as is a large  rounded shrub or small tree which can grow to 25ft in a suitable location. It has long elliptical leaves with edges that are often rolled under. Looking more closely at the leaves, bristles which are reddish are seen coating it. These bristles are most noticeable on new growth  as well as on the branches.  This plant is found in the provinces of Sichaun and Yunnan, China at 7 to 11,00 ft( 2100-3400 m). It was introduced to Arnold Arboretum by E.H. Wilson in 1904.  It was award  an AM (Award of Merit) in 1925.

 

Rhododendron strigillosum in Finnerty Gardens.

Rhododendron strigillosum in Finnerty Gardens.

Rhododendron strigillosum and it’s hybrids are all easy to grow. Like all rhodos’ they like rich well drained soil with some extra organic material added early each year. Rhododendrons are shallow rooted therefore it is especially important that they are watered throughout the year. Next years flower buds are being set in late summer when we often have an extended dry period, if watering is neglected it will effect blooming the following spring!   Rhododendron are usually forest dwellers and show their displeasure at being exposed to too much sun by having yellowed leaves, dappled conditions are prefered.  These are fairly hardy plants and tolerate temperatures down to  5-14f (-10 to -15c). for short periods.

 

'Taurus', one of Rhododendron strigillosums offspring

'Taurus', one of Rhododendron strigillosums' offspring

 Links for Learning More About Rhododendron strigillosum:

A well researched article in the with some great insight  into the species. (PDF file)  http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/vrs/january2008.pdf

Quick overview of the species. http://www.rhododendron.org/descriptionS_new.asp?ID=175

Dominion Brook Park Homepage:
http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Parks_and_Trails/Parks_Information/Municipal_Parks/Dominion_Brook_Park.htm

Who is Ernest ‘Chinese Wilson and why he is important to us.  http://www.plantexplorers.com/explorers/biographies/wilson/ernest-henry-willson.htm

Arnold Arboretum: http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/

Until we meet again….

Read Full Post »

This week I thought I would change things up and give you a bonus blog entry. There are just some many plants I want to write about.  Next week it will be back to the quiz, consider this to be your spring break.

Yellow is the colour I most associate with spring. There are some many yellow blooming flowers; Cornelian Cherries,Crocuses, Forsythia and the kings (or queens) of spring, Daffodils. I have always loved Narcissus from their bright sunny color to the light clean scent of their blooms. Having a vase of Daffodils in a room makes it feel more inviting and always brightens up a cloudy day.

Tete et Tete, the earliest Daffodil here.

Tete et Tete, the earliest Daffodil here.

Known from ancient Greek times and there are many references to the Daffodils in Greek literature. The coming of spring was associated with Persephone who was the goddess of the underworld and represented earth’s fertility. One day the beautiful Persephone went out to gather some flowers for her mother Demeter, she saw a golden flower that was put there her by her father Zeus, the king of all the gods. When she went to pick it, up popped Hades the god of the Underworld who whisked her down into the depths of the earth. He wanted her to be his consort and reign with him underground for all year but was forced to return to her mother’s people every spring. With her coming she brought spring, the reawakening of dormant fields and a new season of growing plants and productive crops. This is why the Daffodils have been called Persephone’s flower.

King Alfred, the Most Common Old Hybrid.

King Alfred, the Most Common Old Hybrid.

Another myth relates to the name Narcissus which is the species name for Daffodils. The handsome Narcissus was so self absorbed and in love with his own image that one day he paused to gaze at his image in a stream. As he leaned closer to admire himself more, he fell in and drowned in the water. Narcissus is the classic latin name derived from Greek “narkisso” or narke which is root of the word narcotic.

 

A Nice Bicolor which is Seen in the Victoria Area.

A Nice Bicolor which is Seen in the Victoria Area.

The name Daffodil is derived from an earlier “Affodell”, which is derived from the Dutch ‘de affodil’ meaning Asphodel (Asphodelus luteus, a member of the lily family found around the Mediterranean which has yellow flowers). Daffodil as a flower name is known from at least the sixteenth century in English literature. Another common name for Daffs is Jonquil which is said to come from Spanish jonquillo which refers to the leaves of the plant looking like that of common Rushes (Juncus species).

 

Some Daffodils Which are Closer to a Wild Form.

Some Daffodils Which are Closer to a Wild Form.

In Canada we often associate the Daffodil with the Canadian Cancer Society, for the flower is it’s symbol and represents hope. ‘Daffodil Days‘ began in 1954 in Toronto as a way to raise funds and has been incredibly successful. Originally it was a tea which was hosted at a large store which 700 ladies attended, Later it was extend to restaurants were involved in collecting funds for the society the first day of canvassing every year. Volunteers would be at the restaurants handing out Daffs to the diners. Curiosity from seeing so many Daffodils made people want to buy the flowers from the canvassers. The society realised that selling the flowers would be a good way to generate funds, and so the following year 5000 daffodils where shipped from Victoria to the Toronto area and sold. Selling of the blossoms continues to this day and the Cancer Society is now the worlds largest purchaser of the flowers, around 18 million a year, which are grown here. Last year in B.C. $450,000 was raised for the Cancer Society this way.

Imagine a Bouquet of These Daffodils on Your Kitchen Table.

Imagine a Bouquet of These Daffodils on Your Kitchen Table.

Daffodils are native to Central Europe, the Mediterranean region and a few species are found in China. There are many forms and colours for you to choose from if you want to grow some for yourself. Narcissus are probably the easiest bulbs to grow.. Choose plump clean bulbs which are not discoloured, dried out or mushy. The best planting time is between late August and early October after the ground has become moistened by rain, the longer the rooting period the better the product the following year. This gives the newly planted bulbs longer rooting time so they will increase in bulb, flower and stem size.

 

'Thalia', the Purest of the Whites.

'Thalia', the Purest of the Whites.

 Narcissus are not very particular about the soil they are grown in. the best will be slightly on the side of acid of neutral. They do not like sodden ground, so, free drainage is important. Soil should be deeply dug as these are large bulbs. Digging to double depth of a spade is recommended. At this time some humus can be incorporated with a dusting of potash to and further general fertiliser if needed. 

A White Bi-color With a Peachy Trumpet.

A White Bi-color With a Peachy Trumpet.

Planting depth is vital for the bulbs to produce flowers the following spring, if too deep flowers will not likely be seen and if planted to shallowly the bulbs could split. It is generally a rule to plant Daffodils with 10cm (8 inches) of soil over their tops. Smaller forms will be planted less deeply. The holes dug should be 2 ½ times the length of the bulb. By spacing of bulbs 15cm (6 inches) apart the plants can be left for up to 4 years before they need to be lifted for division. 

 

Mass Plantings of Daffodils are Impressive.

Mass Plantings of Daffodils are Impressive.

 

Links Related to This Post:

Wiki has an impressive page on Daffodilshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daffodil

The American Daffodil Societyhttp://www.daffodilusa.org/

The story of how Daffodils are associated with Cancer Research. http://www.cancer.ca/Canada-wide/How%20you%20can%20help/CW-Fundraising%20activities/CW-Daffodil%20Days.aspx

Read Full Post »

When my sister was a little girl she was a very ‘girlie’ girl, wearing long prairie dresses and had long flowing beautiful hair like a little princess.  I always wanted to get her special little gifts, one time i found this charming little white glass flask of perfume which was painted with purple violets. She loved the gift and played with it in many ways and still cherishes that bottle to this day. The elusive fragrance in that container was extracted from the Sweet violet (Viola odorata), one of the most famous of all scents.

Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

This extremely dainty plant has been known since the ancient times as having special appeal. Around the Mediterranean area most cultures which originated there knew of it’s special properties and used it for medicinal treatments. In Rome it was used Viola odorata for scenting sweet wines, the Greeks knew it as a herb and made perfumes with it.  It is used in Indian Ayurvedic and the Unani systems of medicine to reduce inflammation and easing of colds and coughs. It is also listed in Arabic and Persian medical writings.

Common color of Viola odorata.

Common color of Viola odorata.

Sweet Violets have been written about in famous verses, who hasn’t said at least once ” Roses are red, Violets are blue”, I know I have. In Medieval times Sweet Violets were used as a herb which was spread or strewn about the house to ‘sweeten’ the air. Napoleon was so obsessed with the tiny flower that he is said to have died wearing a locket filled with the tiny blooms from Josephine s’(his first wife who adored it) grave.  During Victorian times there was a mania for Sweet Violets, at this time there were 4 known varieties. It is noted that by 1874 over 6 tons of the tiny flowers were harvested in France each year to supply perfumery as well as to be sold as tiny bouquets or posies on street corners.  Corsages worn by women were very popular into the early 20th century. With the end of the Victorian era came the end of the Violet mania which was waning by 1910.

Viola odorata 'Alba'.

Viola odorata 'Alba'.

Sweet ‘Scented’ Violets have an elusive fragrance which is so ethereal that it disappears all most as soon as you sense it. For a few minutes it literally numbs your scent receptors. It of course is it’s Victorian connections which people relate it to, elderly ladies with blue hair and all of that and because of this it is thought of as somewhat cloying and old-fashioned.  The scent is interesting so it is no surprise that culinary confections have and are created using Viola odorata blossoms or extracts and fortunately all of the plant is edible. Candied flowers are a popular and beautiful addition to fancy cakes and petite-fours. It is a popular addition to salads for its delicate foliage, colorful flowers and flavor.

Viola odorata Foliage and Blossoms.

Viola odorata Foliage and Blossoms.

Viola odorata is a widespread plant, it is native to much of Europe and north Africa and spreads east to the Caucasus into to Turkey, through to northern Iran. It is a plant found along edges of woodlands and other sunny spots such as banks and along roadsides. It blooms extremely early in the year starting in late Febuary and continueing through March here.

A  more Red Form of Viola odorata.

A more Red Form of Viola odorata.

Viola odorata an easy plant to grow and will grow in any site from gravel to more damp to almost boggy sites.It is most important they have adiquate moisture during the hot summer months.  If happy Sweet Violets will seed around and this might be a problem to consider. It is common to see them in lawns as they are so short that they can be mown over with no damage.  There are color forms from deep violet(said to be most fragrant) through reddish forms to pure whites as well as doubles. The modern forms have lost their scent, so when selecting you might want to smell them first if that is important to you.  They respond very well to annual replanting, so don’t be afraid to move them around in the spring after they bloom. They are hardy to -20c(-30f)- zone 4 through 8. Newer forms might be less hardy.

Red Sweet Violets after Blooming.

Red Sweet Violets after Blooming.

Links for This Plant:

An intersting article about the plant and its history:  http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/03/news/gardening-it-s-raining-violets.html

Plant Heritage page all about these wonderful Violets: http://www.nccpg.com/Page.Aspx?Page=94

Read Full Post »

When I was a small child we used to play by the hill which was close to our house. One day as we explored the trails at the bottom we discovered these strange nut-like things in the shrubs and took them home to show our parents who told us they were wild or Beaked Hazelnuts(Corylus cornuta). We then had to gather them in their itchy prickly cases as they were still green. We knew if we waited to long the squirrels would get them and would leave the empty and decayed ones behind.

Common European Hazelnut, Corylus avellana.

Common European Hazelnut, Corylus avellana.

Later on we found our grandparents had a large Hazelnut bush but it was different; it was the Common or European Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) which is grown as a commercial crop. It’s nuts are much bigger and their casings are much smaller and less prickly too. Many years later having moved far away to Vancouver Island I was out with my sister and her young son at Denham Till Park and guess what we found, an old Hazelnut grove!

Old Hazelnut Grove at Denham Till Park in North Saanich.

Old Hazelnut Grove at Denham Till Park in North Saanich.

I had by this time shown her the ”very cool’ Corkscrew Hazelnut( Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) which was located at the library in Sidney near were she lived.

Corkscrew Hazelnut, Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

Corkscrew Hazelnut, Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

It’s interesting to think that a plain straight branched plant can give us a twisting ‘sport’ which was found accidentally in a Gloucestershire hedgerow in the 1860s. We must thank the unknown person who stumbled upon it and had the foresight to save it for all in the future to enjoy. Corkscrew Hazelnuts shine at this time of the year with their pale butter yellow catkins hanging amongst the mass of writhing branches which reminds one of Medusa’s tresses.

The Male Catkins Hanging in the Medusa-like Corkscrew Hazelnut branches.

The Male Catkins Hanging in the Medusa-like Corkscrew Hazelnut branches.

 If you see a Corylus avellana ‘Contorta you are not likely to forget it, even the leaves have a wierd look to them because they have the same kind of slight twistiness to them.  As you can see this can become a large dense shrub which should be given a spotlight like location to show itself off. Most of these shrubs are grafted which can lead to problems from the under-graft sending up straight shoots which must be removed as soon as they can be easily handled. Spring is also a good time to do any pruning for the odd awkward branches that need removal.

Vigorous Shoots Coming up From the Under-graft Should Be Removed Now.

Vigorous Shoots Coming up From the Under-graft Should Be Removed Now.

These are slow growing shrubs which can grow to 8-10ft by 6-8ft wide.  Corkscrew Hazelnuts are easy to grow as they are not fussy about soil as long as it’s well drained. they do best in full sun or slight shade. It is best to select your plant when it does not have its’s leaves yet as you will be able to see it’s form better.  Although this is a ‘nut’ plant do not expect any to be produced.  It looks delightful under-planted with low growing plants which bring attention to its attractive bark.

The Attractive Bark on Corylus avallana 'Contorta'

The Attractive Bark on Corylus avallana 'Contorta'

 Links to Learn From:  

European or Common Hazelnut : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corylus_avellana

Denham Till Park in North Saanich:  http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Parks_and_Trails/Parks_Information/Municipal_Parks/Denham_Till_Park.htm

Corkscrew Hazelnuts : http://www.mobot.org/GARDENINGHELP/PLANTFINDER/Plant.asp?code=C360

                                            http://www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/gardens/harlowcarr/archive/harlowcarrpom05mar.asp

 

Who knows what treasures you will find here next time.

Read Full Post »

My mother was born in the Vancouver(zone 8a) area and grew up in a fairly mild climate which is that of the lower mainland.  She learned to love the flowers and other plants which grew abundantly there. When she married, she and my father decided to move to Prince George(zone3a) which is located in the center of British Columbia. No longer did she see the flowers she grew up with as the climate was much colder.  When my parents built their permanent home they had a garden and of course mom wanted some of her favorite plants there.

English or Common Primrose like those in my mothers gardens

English or Common Primrose like those in my mothers gardens

When my grandparents visited from the coast they brought with them two plants, a  clump of  blue Siberian Iris and some  butter colored English or Common Primroses(Primula vulgaris).  This was my introduction to Primula species which has fascinated me ever since. Every year in the spring I am reminded of my mothers beloved English Primroses as they bloom before any other Primula.

Primulas Peeping Out From Under a Dusting of Snow.

Primulas Peeping Out From Under a Dusting of Snow.

This Primula may be called common but it is not seen as much as you might think  for a long time it was seen as an old fashioned plant and newer more exciting types came into fashion, most often the Polyanthus which you see sold at every grocer and florist shop.  Recently people have renewed their interest in English Primroses and exciting old forms are now available at garden centers everywhere. Old Double forms such as Dawn Ansell(white) and April Rose(red) and many others are making a return to the garden here.

Double Primulas bloom a little later.

Double Primulas bloom a little later.

Primula 'Hereford'

Primula 'Hereford'

Primula vulgaris has been with us for a very long time, the Romans knew this plant and Pliny wrote about it as being a panacea for what ailed his patients. Extracts of it were commonly used for muscular complaints, paralysis and gout.  It is not surprising it would have been used as it grows in a wide geographic area  from Ireland through to the Ukraine and the south as far as Lebanon. it grows in many places; wooded pastures, copses, meadows being where it is found. So popular was collecting this plant in the wild that laws have been passed to protect it form being removed completely from where is grows.

Two Color Forms Growing in my Backyard.

Two Color Forms Growing in my Backyard.

Fortunately for us these are really easy plants to grow and divide.  They need a fertile, nutrient rich moisture retaining soil for their best showing.  I have noticed the lighter colored flowers bloom first, are often deliciously fragrant and are slightly more vigorous.  to have a beautiful display all you have to do is remove the older leaves when the new ones start to grow and this keeps them tidy.  The best way to get more plants is to divide your own or a friends, one plant can be separated into many new ones.

This planting was created from dividing 2 plants.

This planting was created from dividing 2 plants.

The best use for this plant is in masses inter-planted with other later growing perennials for later color. They also can be used as an attractive edging which i have seen in a couple of places here.

An Example of Primulas used as Edging near Playfair Park.

An Example of Primulas used as Edging near Playfair Park.

If you want to see more Primulas, Government House has several varieties on their gardens, look about at older houses and you might be rewarded with the sight of some of the buttery yellow plants that have lived for many years.

Links For This Week:

All you might want to know about Primula vulgaris:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primula_vulgaris

Government House is a treasure trove of fantastic plants. Something new to see anytime of the year. Free to all with parking.

http://www.ltgov.bc.ca/

See you again on Wednesday for new clues to lead you to the identity of the next plant.

Read Full Post »

My prim(e) name is usually connected to a Rose.

P.v

P.v

I come in many colors, pink, yellow, white and in between.

Magenta

Magenta

This is a common color you will see in me!

I am a very old fashioned plant  and am referred to in many old stories and poems.

I am Vein

I am Vein

People often say I’m vulgar.

I think I am more of a star in a star!

Pure and Pristine

Pure and Pristine

If you need more come back tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

(Coast)Silk Tassel Bushes or Garrya elliptica are a very unusual plant to come across. The first time I saw one I was thrilled, I had never paid attention to the rather boring ungainly shrub located at the top of the long perennial border at Playfair Park in Saanich. It was early in the year and I knew  that this garden had a wonderful collection of Rhododendrons which I wanted to check on, they were not in bloom yet,  instead I found a Garrya.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

The first thing I realized on seeing this plant for the first time is that at other times without its catkins I might have thought it was an Elaegnus which has similar leaves but not flowers. Garryas are dioecious meaning they are male or female plants(Holly is another plant like this). They both have long catkins but the males clones are the most prized.  Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is the most commonly grown male clone which can have catkins which are up to 12in (30 cm) long.

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya ellipticas are true west coasters and don’t like living far from the ocean, this is because there are smaller temperature swings when closer to a large body of water (marine effect).  Their range extends all along the coast from southern Oregon through California. There are a total of 18 Garrya species found along the West coast  from Washington state through to Panama and east to Texas

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

Here in Victoria We live in a rain shadow which keeps us drier and warmer than the  the British Columbia mainland. We have a very moderate climate which is similar to their native habitat of Chaparral, mixed evergreen forest or coastal Sage scrub. Garryas’ where first found by David Douglas in 1828 and named for Nicolas Garry who was the Secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  He assisted Douglas in his explorations in the Pacific Northwest.

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

Placement of Silk Tassel Bushes here here is a very tricky thing. They like full sun to part shade preferably in mixed deciduous trees and shrubs to show off their winter blooms. The most important thing is to make sure this plant is kept out of the drying burning winds that can occur during a cold snap such as the ones we have during the November to March period.  Best placement is bottoms of slopes or beside walls or fences. Another use is as a transitional plant from a  naturalised setting into the more structured garden.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Garryas are easy to please,  for luxuriant growth they ask for no less than 25 in.(25cm) of rain. They are not very particular to soil and tolerate clays if they are well drained and nutrient rich. They will grow into a substantial 12ft(4m) by 12ft(4m) multi-stemmed shrub which is deer and rabbit resistant. They can be lightly pruned after blooming primarily for shape, do not too far down into the bush.  Although these plants can take temperatures as low as 4f(-10c) they prefer a warmer climate.  Zones 7 through 10 is recommended.

Lnks to this weeks Subject:

A very informative site about Garryas

http://groups.ucanr.org/sonomamg/Plant_of_the_Month/Garrya_Elliptica.htm

Playfair Park in Saanich is one of my favorite parks for great plant specimens. I will be regularly writing about the plants here.

http://www.saanich.ca/resident/parks/playfairpark.html

David Douglas, an important plant explorer who introduced many species into cultivation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Douglas

Which plant will I write about next week? It’s still a mystery to me, check back on Wednesday for a clue.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: