Leopard’s Bane Through Four Seasons

bloom

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

As the last of the daffodils open  (mid-April in Victoria), Leopard’s Bane joins the spring cacophony of colour.  The sunny-faced flowers sway on tall stalks above the burst of Bluebells, Tulips and Hyacinth.

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

They’re happy yellow flowers -undaunted by seasonal showers.

The exuberance of Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum) lifts spring to new heights.

seedhead

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By mid-May, their enthusiasm wanes, but the show is certainly not over.  For me,  the progression is beautiful.  The varied stages of seeding are almost as enchanting as the flowering.

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • First, the petals of  Leopard’s Bane wither a bit.

 

  • Then somehow the rays turn to fluff & float away…

 

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • The fluorescence of the central disk holds out for a while longer before it also turns to fluff and flies off.

 

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Even the remaining bracts are decorative – still catching enough breeze to add movement in the beds.  That’s a couple extra weeks of pleasure & value.

summer hibernation

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By the time school wraps up in mid-June, Leopard’s Bane has dispersed its seed.  The heat withers its foliage.  Doronicum disappears on holiday, too.  Summer perennials elbow into its space as if it was never even there.

fall emergence

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By the time we’re carving Jack-o-lanterns in October, the leaves are falling from above.  It feels like the garden is dying, too.  But autumn’s moisture tickles the rhizomes below the soil.  New leaves peek out.  Leopard’s Bane is re-awakening.  As so much else fades away, Doronicum stays fresh, green & alive right through the doldrums of our West Coast winter.

In our garden, Leopard’s Bane is indispensable because:

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It has happy yellow flowers
  • Our brazen urban deer ignore it. (It’s reputed to be poisonous, but also medicinal  !?!)
  • I  never have to water it – – it’s summer drought-tolerant in the Pacific Northwest… and yet, it’s not invasive.
  • It’s as happy under shade trees as it is in full sun.
  • It’s an unusual cool-season perennial:
        • it comes to life when the rest of the garden is dying back in the fall…
        • it stays green through our mild coastal winters…
        • and it promises the return of vigour in the spring warmth.
  • It boasts 8+ months of interest to a garden –one of the longest-lasting spring ephemerals.
  • It’s low maintenance.
  • And, most of all: The deer ignore it.
    🙂

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Another indispensable:

cu - forsythia in bloom, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

 

Purple Salsify

Mt Tolmie camas in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

I was marvelling over the camas meadow on Mt Tolmie when a friend pointed out another wildflower.  I’m so glad DL distracted me. The profusion of camas is beautiful, but so is this new discovery.

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

It’s only a single bloom… almost hidden in the tall meadow grass…
insignificant in comparison to the flamboyant camas.

But once I get close enough to look into the flower itself —  I’m delighted.
It’s so pretty!

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

I love the colour…
the simplicity of the daisy-like, purple petals…
The extensions of the supporting bracts behind the petals suggest an explosion…
And the yellow pistles are the sparkle at the end of a fireworks display…

I don’t recognize this flower, but it really reminds me of the Yellow Salsify I noticed along a trail at Fairmont Hot Springs a few years ago…

Tragopogon dubius, yellow salsify, western salsify, wild oysterplant wester goat's-beard, goatsbeard, common salsify, Tragopogon major
photo by SVSeekins

They’ve gotta be related, right?

My trusty wildflower guide only lists the flower called Yellow Salsify.
(That’s what I saw near the hot springs…)
But the fine print in the description talks about a Purple Salsify – Bingo!

salsify seedhead
photo by SVSeekins

It’s a member of the aster family & related to a dandelion…
(That reminds me of the 4-inch wide Salsify seedhead that astounded me in Oregon near the Deschutes River.  — It’s all coming together now!  🙂  )

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

Even though I’m not familiar with it, Purple Salsify is a fairly common biennial.  Europeans farmed it during the middle ages:

  • a carrot-like root,
  • a substitute for potato,
  • & a taste a bit like oysters.  Hmmm… gourmet ????

In some circles, it’s considered an ornamental… that makes sense to me.

Others call it a weed.  Good Grief!

I guess it’s all perspective.

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