Category Archives: drought tolerant

Perennial Hanging Basket

Early last year, I made 2 perennial hanging baskets to rescue licorice ferns. The voracious deer in our neighbourhood were browsing them into oblivion. I peeled the moss & ferns off our rocky outcrop & used them to line the wire baskets. Dangling just out of Bambi’s reach, the ferns are recovering nicely.

Now, my challenge is maintaining seasonal interest in the baskets.

iris reticulata, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter, I’m desperate for early colour. Because these new containers hang within view of my breakfast table, I look at them with hope. Planting several types of spring bulbs only makes sense.

perennial hanging basket in February snow garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Iris reticulata & snowdrops bloomed in early February, just a few months after planting. That got me excited about spring. Then a dump of snow insisted it was still winter.
Bummer. 😦
But the bulbs took it in stride & were still showing off their colours at the end of the month.

iris reticulata, galanthus, snowdrops, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This winter, the snowdrops returned, but sadly there was no sign of the tiny iris. On the bright side, comparing how much the licorice fern fronds grew through the 2 winters without browsing is nice.

snowdrops, galanthus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In mid-March of that first year, narcissus, creamy crocus & snowdrops decorated one of the baskets.

galanthus, snowdrops, crocus, narcissus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The narcissus carried the show well into April.

narcissus, galanthus, snowdrops, crocus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I experimented with some native bulbs in the other basket, hoping to help out the native pollinators & beneficials. Northern Riceroot Fritillary bloomed simultaneously with annual sea blush as the grape hyacinths were finishing up. Through May, the blooms matured and set seed.

Northern Riceroot Fritillary, Fritillaria camschatcensis, northern rice-root, black lily; Kamchatka fritillary; northern riceroot, sea blush, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By June, the white stonecrop gave me hope for a summer show. The big challenge is finding drought-tolerant plants that survive while we’re away camping.

Sedum album hanging basket, white stonecrop, Oreosedum album , small house leek, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

As the bulb foliage died back, I planted a few Salvia seedlings for late summer & autumn interest. Fingers crossed that they’re more established for this year.

Isn’t that what makes gardening so fun? It’s all one experiment after another. 🙂

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Forsythia Forcing Indoors

Forsythia in late winter, Forsythia x intermedia, Easter tree, golden bells, spring flowering shrub, border forsythia, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

We’re beginning to see a little bit of sunshine peeking through our West Coast winter overcast. I yearn for spring, but it’s just not quite here yet.

The Forsythia is stretching for the sky. A couple lanky stems impede C’s access to the driver’s car door, so I’m pruning them back when a thought occurs to me: These bare stems might give us an early spring if I bring them indoors.

It’s easy. Just a vase, some water & a spot in some indirect light. After a few days, the tiny buds begin to plump & even show some colour. It’s promising!

forcing forsythia indoors, Forsythia x intermedia, Easter tree, golden bells, spring flowering shrub, border forsythia, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

A few days after that — blossoms! Oh, JOY! 🙂

forcing forsythia indoors, Forsythia x intermedia, Easter tree, golden bells, spring flowering shrub, border forsythia, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
forcing forsythia indoors, Forsythia x intermedia, Easter tree, golden bells, spring flowering shrub, border forsythia, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s like magic.
A patch of sunshine inside the house —
even when there’s an unexpected skiff of snow outside.

It’ll be a full month before the shrub near the driveway explodes into brilliant yellow blooms announcing to all that spring is upon us in the Pacific Northwest. Bring it on!

Isn’t this just another reason why Forsythia will always have a place in our garden?

forsythia in bloom, Forsythia x intermedia, Easter tree, golden bells, spring flowering shrub, border forsythia, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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Yellow Flowering Onion, Alium moly luteum

One of my favourite spring ephemerals is the lesser-known Yellow Flowering Onion. It’s native to southern Europe (Mediterranean), but it’s a tough little bulb that rates at zone 3. It also grows well here, in the Pacific Northwest.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The strappy leaves appear in spring. They look quite a bit like bluebell leaves but have a faint oniony odour if bruised. (Ditto for the bulb). Once the flower buds come out, it’s easy to see the difference.

Bluebells flower here in May and finish up before Golden Garlic blooms emerge in June.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Alium moly luteum blooms as an umbel of flowers at the top of the stem, similar to other onions. It typically reaches mid-calf rather than knee or thigh height of the large purple alliums.

At first, I figured the short Allium moly luteum was best at the front of the border. Unfortunately, the foliage dies back shortly after the bloom does. As it’s declining, the leaf is still feeding the bulb for next year’s flower production. It’s better to let that foliage fade naturally. But that looks pretty sad.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

These days, I’m shifting some bulbs further into the border & mixing with asters. The hope is the emerging aster foliage catches attention as the allium fades. If it works out, it’ll mean we get 2 seasons of bloom from relatively the same location.

Here are a few other reasons why Lily Leek is a keeper:

  • Our neighbourhood deer have never touched it. (I guess Bambi doesn’t want onion breath.)
  • The bulbs survive our incredibly arid summers & very wet winters.
  • It seems just as happy in dappled, dry shade as in full sun.
  • It’s basically NO maintenance, if situated somewhere that other plants distract from the onion’s fading foliage.
  • Allium moly luteum looks lovely blooming alongside red hot pokers, California lilac, foxglove & peony (other drought-tolerant & deer-reistant plants).
Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

With that much going for it, Golden Galic is assured of its space in our garden.

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Othe Allium on my Keeper list::