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Archive for April, 2009

Fields of Dreaming…..

I'm Longing for You to Name Me!

I'm Longing for You to Name Me!

I am one of the most famous plants in this area and you can see tourists taking pictures of me in bloom.

Flower Quills?
Flower Quills?

From my rather scaly exterior great things burst forth. I’m really not at all scary.

Blue Button.
Blue Button.

I am the star of the meadows around here, you can see me as far as you can see.

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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…..

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I'm Not Really That Sort of Plant, Even If I Look Like It!

I'm Not Really That Sort of Plant, Even If I Look Like It!

One of my better known bits is quite Mottled, although I am not rally that sort!

My Sexy Bits, I Feel So Exposed!

My Sexy Bits, I Feel So Exposed!

I am another native here although you may think I come from more south of here because of my Latin name. Those silly naming people!

I guess I Need to Make Up My Mind.

I guess I Need to Make Up My Mind.

I have at least 2 common names.

One is four legged and the other has scales!

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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 ….

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My Delicately Flushed Underside!

My Delicately Flushed Underside!

I often am a little flushed, but it’s not always the case.

I blame it on the weather.

My Innermost Secret.

My Central Secret.

I come from one of the oldest plant families on earth and parts of me look very ancient.

 

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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

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Shocking Beauty!

I really am a true native and one of the showiest you will ever see!

My many flowers hang down like like a fiery upside down flaming torch.

Open Wide!

Open Wide!

My inner sanctum is very small and showy!

It’s just the rest of me that comes in other colors.

The Eye of My Tiger!

The Eye of My Tiger!

My flowers are kind of stinky, but, don’t let that distract you.

I have other hidden assets which we will discuss later.

Tough yet Delicate.

Tough yet Delicate.

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When I moved down to Vancouver to go to Horticulture school I had only ever seen one type of Clematis which grew in the Prince George area. It is the  rare Western Blue Clematis (Clematis occidentalis) which is not at all vigorous or showy having small blue bells which are lost in the dense forest edges. Down in the warm Vancouver area there of course are many types with large flowers that can bloom from early spring into late summer. I was surprised that on my list of plants to learn was an evergreen species which naturally is Clematis Armandii commonly known as the Evergreen Clematis or more appropriately (I think) Armand’s Clematis.

Clematis armandii alnong a long fence at Sidney Library.

Clematis armandii growing along a log fence at Sidney Library.

Clematis armandii is very common in this area, I have found it in countless yards and municipal sites used in a variety of ways.  Many broadleaved evergreens here took a real beating with this winters  unusual cold which included a prolonged damaging dry northern wind. The Armand Clematis (zone8-10) that I have come across have not been touched.

Clematis armandii is a Popular Choice for Use in New Landscapes.

Clematis armandii is a Popular Choice for Use in New Landscapes.

Armand’s Clematis originates in almost the same area as Rhododendron strillgilosum, the plant I featured last week. It’s range is from south Yunnan, traveling west Guizhou and north into Hubie and Sichuan China. It is seen growing in the scrub, along riverbanks and up through trees where it blooms in April and May. Although it is named in honor of the French missionary Per’e David- Jean Pierre Armand David(1826-1900) the plant was introduced into cultivation by Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson around 1900. It was an immediate hit and earned a FCC( First Class Certificate) in 1914 from the Royal Horticulture Society.

A Fragrant Froth of Clematis armandii blossoms.

A Fragrant Froth of Clematis armandii blossoms.

Clematis armandii is a plant which is especially attractive in the spring, It’s fresh new growth is tinged with wine tones and the leaves are glossy and crisp in the sun. The flower buds are an delicate cream which burst forth into an incredible show. Often on a sunny spring day these plants are absolutely covered in flowers and the bees are happily buzzing about harvesting the honey.

Delicate Wine Tinted Stems and Cream Buds of Armand's Clematis.

Delicate Wine Tinted Stems and Cream Buds of Armand's Clematis.

All Clematis have gained an undeserved reputation for being difficult plants to grow and  this is not true at all.  They do need to be properly sited and have enough water during their growing season.  They need both sun and shade; at least 6 hours of full sun per day to grow their best and a cool shaded location to sink their roots in.  A large hole 2ft(60cm) deep by 3ft(1m) across to be filled with lots of compost and organic material will get your plant of to an extremely fine start.

A happy well sited Clematis armandii with it's roots in the Shade.

A happy well sited Clematis armandii with it's roots in the Shade.

If happy Clematis armandii will grow to be large vines up to 20 ft(5m) in spread and height. Staking to a strong trellis or other form of support is a must as these are extremely vigorous and eventually heavy plants do to their think leaves and dense growth.

The Attractive Glossy Evergreen Leaves of Clematis armandii.

The Attractive Glossy Evergreen Leaves of Clematis armandii.

It is advisable to give Clematis armandii an annual mulching of well rotted manure or compost each spring. If they get to big or need to be restrained they can be pruned after blooming.   They do not like having wet roots in the winter it it might rot off, this caused by a fungi which attacks Clematis. Signs of this are seen in wilting of the new growth. Unfortunately there is no known cure for this.  Carefully discard the plant in the garbage and do not replant with another clematis in the same site if this happens.

Links that Weaves This Together:

Paghat’s experience with Clematis armandii http://www.paghat.com/evergreenclematis.html

How to grow Clematis, a well laid out article: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1247.html

Per’e David- Jean Pierre Armand David: another plant explorer who we honor for what he brought to horticulture.

http://www.plantexplorers.com/explorers/biographies/french-missionaries/pere-jean-pierre-armand-david.htm

What Treasure Will I Bring You Next Week? I Have go Out and Hunt Like the Plant Explorers!

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As I said I am De-vine, you might want to have Me running around on your fence on on an arbor.

I have a split personality, prefering my feet to be in the shade and my upper regions in the sun!

My Lines are True.

My Lines are True.

My leathery, glossy, evergreen leaves are unusual for my kind.

You will find me getting into the most unusual places!

 De-vine or De-vein, Both I Think!

De-vine or De-vein, Both I Think!

I start like this,and Pop I go!

I am tougher than I look, don’t be fooled!

Delicate Start to Something Bigger.

Delicate Start to Something Bigger.

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