mahonia in flower garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest

Flower Count – day 3 – mahonia

It was early February when I ran across this burst of sunshine in Victoria.

mahonia bloom
photo by SVSeekins
mahonia in February
photo by SVSeekins

Mahonia is an evergreen shrub that boasts happy yellow flower clusters through winter.

This particular specimen is certainly more showy than the local mahonia (Oregon grape) that grows in our yard.

At this time of year the tall Oregon grape in our shrub border is only just preparing to bloom.

mahonia - tall Oregon grape in February
photo by SVSeekins

By summer it’ll  be sporting dark berries.  One of my favorite resource books, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, tells  that some use the berries to make jelly with real pucker power.

Oregon grape with berries
photo by SVSeekins

The leaves are shaped like holly, but aren’t nearly as hard and prickly.

I’ve seen full-sized holly trees, but mahonia only seem to come in shrubs or ground covers.

Holly berries are red, while mahonia’s are blue.

In some places, folks consider holly an invasive.  I’ve not heard any such complaint about the mahonia.

Aside from watering it for the first summer after transplanting, Oregon grape seems happy here with no attention at all.

This one is a hard worker.  It’s evergreen, so it’s interesting all year-long.  The winter blooms feed hummingbirds.  The summer fruit feeds other birds.  The mild prickles deter deer.   Who could ask for more?


© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012.

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