Category Archives: natives

Youthful Blush of Spring

Last spring, I came across the loveliest drift of foamy flowers that I’d ever seen.  It grew on a rocky outcrop.  Pink blooms smothered the moss-covered rocks.  It was as if the hillside was blushing.

grape hyacinth on hillside
photo by SVSeekins

“That would look great in my garden!” I thought.

We have a rocky slope that blooms with grape hyacinth at this same time.  Wouldn’t the pink & blue combo look fabulous?

My friend SK had similar thoughts.  Little green plant-coveting monsters chorused from our shoulders, encouraging us both to forage some of this wildflower.

It was a group consensus.

We just took a few plants.  We only took them from crevices already overflowing with the pink population.  I felt a weensy bit ashamed by our boldness – but only for a moment.

The plants were tucked into similar mossy crevices in my garden as soon as was possible.  Fingers crossed for their survival, I went inside to search out the details on the plant.

It turns out that it’s named appropriately.  Sea Blush.  Blooming on rocky hillsides throughout the Pacific Northwest, it’s a native wildflower.

I certainly hadn’t noticed any unusual smell from the flowers, but when I read about it, I hoped there might be just enough to deter the deer from feasting.  Deer frequent this part of the garden more than any other.  Time would tell.

It was disappointing to find out Sea Blush is an annual.  Since we’d moved it while it was in bloom, I figured there wasn’t much chance it would set seed.

sea blush 3
photo by SVSeekins

What a delight to find it blooming this spring!    Was the winter mild enough that the plants survived?  Did the seeds develop even though I’d set it back by transplanting?  I’m not sure how it survived, but I’m thrilled it did.

sea blush 1
photo by SVSeekins

Now I hope it’ll spread across the rocks & produce the blushing spring meadow of my fantasies.

Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary offers classes on native plant gardening. I took one last weekend.  The instructor, Pat Johnson, listed Sea Blush as one of her plant picks for native gardens.  She has superwonderful photos of gardens on Vancouver Island that benefit from the use of native plants.  I definitely recommend the 1/2 day class if you ever get the chance.

Swan Lake also has a native plant sale coming up this weekend.  Imagine –

  • getting coveted plants without scavenging…
  • and raising funds for a local park.

Even better than foraging, don’t you think?


© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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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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Flower Count