Category Archives: bulbs

Orange Candleflower

I’ve admired the fall show of Orange Candleflower for ages. I first saw the funky, candle-like seed spikes beside the front gate at Abkhazi garden. Later, KL & I admired swaths of them in a woodland at Government House garden.

Arum Italicum, orange candleflower, lords and ladies, cuckoo's pint, Italian lily, Italian arum, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Arum italicum leaves die back in the summer leaving a naked stem & seed head. Groovy, eh? Perhaps that’s why it’s sometimes called Lords & Ladies. The Lady is the shy, white, spring flower. The Lord is the seed head. His Lordship might be inconspicuous early on, but as he matures from green to bright red… he’s certainly aristocratic.

Arum Italicum, orange candleflower, lords and ladies, cuckoo's pint, Italian lily, Italian arum, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Over the years I’ve sourced Italian arum through the garden club. I carefully planted several small pots around our garden.
No joy.
The winter ephemeral leaves delight me from late autumn, right through winter & even spring…
but never flowers. 😦

Blooms are supposed to appear in May – but there’s SO MUCH going on then…. maybe I just missed them? Can I blame the deer? Word has it that Arum Lily, & all its parts, is poisonous to people & animals so my deer excuse doesn’t really fly.

Arum Italicum, orange candleflower, lords and ladies, cuckoo's pint, Italian lily, Italian arum, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This August I was delighted to spy a stem with berries maturing in a shady spot beside our garden gate. Hooray! Don’t believe me? Take a look…. way down…. one lonely stem… It’s really there!

Arum Italicum, orange candleflower, lords and ladies, cuckoo's pint, Italian lily, Italian arum, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I crossed my fingers hoping it would soon turn the vibrant red it’s famous for. It took some time but by October it glowed!

Arum italicum is a Mediterranean perennial that’s naturalized across Britain, Europe and even parts of Australia. It’s apparently causing enough nuisance in Oregon & Washington to be listed as invasive!

Arum Italicum, orange candleflower, lords and ladies, cuckoo's pint, Italian lily, Italian arum, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And here I am, excited about a single phallic seed stalk. It’s certainly not conquering anything in our garden.

Consulting several sources reveals these nobles cause revolts in moist environments. That’s probably why I have so little success with it – – I only drag around a water hose when it’s really needed.

I dream of seeing the Lady’s flower. Now my plan is to shift some into more favourable conditions – perhaps the hosta patch? When the hostas die back in the fall, the arum leaf will come alive.
Fingers crossed.

-30-

Hungry Deer

It wasn’t unusually cold but this must’ve been a looooong winter for our local deer. They’re feeding on things they don’t even like.

species tulips - browsed by deer,
photo by SVSeekins

Gardeners know that deer like tulips.  But the smaller species tulips have always been safe.  Not this year.  Check this out: in a plot of a dozen botanical tulips- only 4 blooms survive.  It looks like a deer snacked on leaves, then came back a few days later to taste-test the flowers. The flavour must be pretty bad because someone didn’t clean his plate.

laurel browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter the deer get hungry enough to nibble on some of the broad-leaved evergreens. This laurel has never been chewed down like this before.  There’s a toxin in laurels, so deer avoid it most of the time.  I’ll bet this browsing session caused indigestion!

variegated yucca browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Even variegated yucca is looking tattered & much worse for wear.  In our garden, the deer always take the bloom before it opens, but the leaves – – they’re so sharp  & tough & stringy!!  Good grief.  Aside from the toxicity factor, how is it even palatable?

I’ll bet the herd is glad the spring growth is on its way.

But then again…
Even in the growing season, the deer on Mt. Tolmie have taken to eating Lily of the Valley.  They never used to do that.

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza,Polypodium occidentale, Polypodium vulgare subsp. occidentale, many footed fern, sweet root, , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

We used to have lush licorice fern in the yard.  Now it’s barely holding on.

There must be some other reason than the scarcity of winter.  I reckon it’s because our urban herd is growing, as is human density.  This dynamic presents some challenges:

  • Housing is taking up a higher percentage of space in a city lot.
  • In turn, that increased housing is reducing the size & number of gardens.
  • There are more & more urban deer – – grazing on fewer & smaller gardens.
  • The deer are getting hungry.

I’ve improved some of the caging around our garden beds.  I’m not much of a fan of that look, but it’s better than naked shrubs & dead perennials.  It’s getting more difficult to decide which plantings to leave exposed.
I still enjoy seeing wildlife in our neighbourhood.
We’re both caught between a rock & a hard place.

-30-

 

 

Happy Daffodil Campaign – Part 2

One beautiful sunny day, way back in June 1990, I went hatless at the bicentennial celebrations around Sooke Harbour.  I was having a blast.  The activity & cooling sea breeze distracted me from the danger.  As an adult, I knew better, but… gosh, I got scorched!

Susie Seekins Mt. Tolmie Garden Care Victoria
SVSeekins

By that evening, the tops of my ears were bright red & tender.
Even the top of my head, where my hair was parted, sunburned.

Time to act more like a grown-up!

I’ve been a hat kinda girl since.

That was 30 years ago!  I’ve been so good for decades.

my left ear, stitches removed.
phot by CD Miller

Recently, the dermatologist agreed with my concern over an odd spot on the outer ridge of my left ear.  A small biopsy determined it was basal cell carcinoma (BCC).  Treatable.  A quick visit with a plastic surgeon removed a larger section along the ear helix, to be sure all of the cancer was taken.

This is me practicing caution & assertiveness.  Awhile back, I  learned the most common spot for women to get skin cancer is on the ankle (See: My Happy Daffodil Campaign – Pt. 1).  Now I’m happy I paid attention to this little spot, too.

Today’s lessons:

  • BCC occurs most often on skin that’s suffered serious sunburns – even if those burns happened way back in childhood.

    my left ear, stitches removed.
    photo by CD Miller
  • This is the most common spot for men to get skin cancer. I guess a baseball cap might shade the face, but does diddly for protecting the ears.

Ageing has also presented me with dry, flakey skin on the back of my hands.  I learned it’s from long past sun exposure, too.  It’s called actinic keratoses  – NOT cancer.  But it is a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Who knew there were so many kinds of skin cancer?

Susie Seekins Mt. Tolmie Garden Care Victoria
photo by A Fox

Whenever my specialist becomes concerned about one of my spots of actinic keratoses, he zaps it with liquid nitrogen.  It’s a simple treatment. I gotta like simple remedies… especially to avoid the alternative.

The other day the ear surgery results came back – I learned that for this surgery, all cancer was removed successfully.
🙂
It is lovely to ‘Live & Learn.’

-30-

BCCancer Agency – non-Melanoma types