Camas Meadow cammasia, spring gold LOMATIUM UTRICULATUM - Beacon Hill Park 2

Meadow Blooms 5 – Camas

The camas meadow swaying in the spring breeze is like no other.  Suddenly I’m walking in a fairytale instead of strolling in a Victoria park.  Has my mind gone wild?  Could I ever have come up with a dream so lovely?  No.  It must be real.

No gardener created this scene either.  This is Nature’s beauty.

Camas Meadow - Beacon Hill Park 3
photo by SVSeekins
camas at Mt. Tolmie Park 2
photo by SVSeekins

Camas meadows have flourished on South Vancouver Island longer than memory reaches into the past.  The southern slope of Beacon Hill has been a camas meadow for centuries.  It’s probably one of the key reasons its preserved as a park today.  The same goes for the Garry oak meadows of Mt. Tolmie Park.  At this time of year, they’re magical places.

Early peoples saw more than beauty in the camas; they saw food.  I wonder who it was to first realize the bulbs are delicious?

Camas at Mt. Tolmie Park 1
photo by SVSeekins

Perhaps she had gardening tendencies like mine; seeing a lovely flower automatically triggers an urge to have that flower in my own garden.  (I’m known to dig up plants from roadsides.)

Before we moved from the Cedar Hill to the Richmond house, I dug up as many camas as I could.  The Garry oak meadow in the backyard was a great natural source for them, but the digging wasn’t so easy.

When I was able to dig deep enough, I often found the bulb tucked securely in a tight rocky crevice.  Un-obtainable! I did manage to get a good number of bulbs (perhaps 2 dozen), but there was no risk of over-harvesting that hillside.

camas blooms cu
photo by SVSeekins

There was certainly more risk of starvation if camas had been my only sustenance.   A good deal of effort for a very small reward.  That gardener from long ago must’ve had more ingenuity than I have.

Apparently, she figured out a method that includes burning the meadow first. (?!?!…)  Perhaps that was a way of cooking the camas in the process? By the time she got one out of the ground, it was already transformed into a sweet treat?  I just can’t figure it….

Happily, after all my sweat equity, I now enjoy blooming borders.

  • snowdrops in January… 
  • crocus in February… 
  • daffodils in March… 
  • hyacinth in April… 
  • and camas in May… 

It times out nicely.  When the foliage of the spring bulb dies back, the daylily takes over for the summer.  And from all that bounty, it’s only the latter that the deer like to feast on.  🙂

a bit of history on camas
a camas recipe
growing camas

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

Camas Meadow - Beacon Hill Park 1
photo by SVSeekins

3 thoughts on “Meadow Blooms 5 – Camas”

    1. Yes, Steve, that’s a really good point. It is entirely inappropriate to take plants from parks or gardens without permission. I was very happy to have access to extra camas in my own backyard during the transition from one home to another.
      In Victoria a good source for camas is the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary’s native plant sale. They host one each spring, usually on the last weekend of April.
      And thanks for the head’s up on the typo. (Always appreciated)


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