Category Archives: boulevard garden

growing outside the fence

Flower Count – day 6 – euphorbia

Euphorbia is a new plant for me.  I dipped my toe in that pool a couple of years ago, but had little success.  Then I began noticing more & different euphorbia in other gardens & those looked great.

Deciding I hadn’t tried hard enough, last summer I stuck my whole foot into the euphorbia pool.  I moved the past year’s trial plant to a new site (in hopes it would perk up), and I bought a different cultivar at the garden shop.  That made 2.

Then I admired the euphorbia at SK’s garden.  She says they grow like crazy & promptly dug some up for me.

Cousin SM also gave me a gift from her garden.

When I admired some euphorbia a drought tolerant landscape down the street, the resident assured me they’re tough as nails, and immediately offered to share some of her extras.  Wow.

Now I have 5 test patches going.

Donkey Tail Spurge
photo by SVSeekins

This winter it’s already paying off.  The transplant from down the street has survived – – and doesn’t this look suspiciously like blooms on the ends of the branches?

It’s called Euphorbia ‘myrsinites’.  The easier common name is Donkey Tail Spurge.  I think it’s pretty funky looking.

It lives at the base of a boulevard tree that sticks out into the street corner.  I figure this might be a good place for it, since this spurge won’t grow too high to impede the view of any drivers trying to pull into traffic.  I also have my fingers crossed that it’ll survive with far less water than it had last summer (transplants need watering until they’re established).

Purple Wood Spurge
photo by SVSeekins

The garden shop cultivar is also looking encouraging.  The bright tips look like flowers to me.  Even if they’re really something else, I’m going to count them as flowers anyway.  It’s called Euphorbia ‘purpurea’, or more commonly Purple Wood Spurge.

euphorbia - gift from SK
photo by SVSeekins

The gifts from SK have something groovy dangling on their tips also.  I don’t know if it’s a flower – but I like it.

Does it sound like I’m getting desperate to find blooms for Victoria’s Flower Count?  Maybe.  But just getting outside at this time of year has given me a boost, and a fresh perspective.   These hen’s & chicks look so decorative, I’m half way to declaring them in bloom, too.   🙂

winter Hens & Chicks
photo by SVSeekins

Yet I digress – Sorry.

I have my fingers crossed for the euphorbia Cousin SM gave me.  She warned me that it would look like it died off completely, so I’m not too worried.

The 5th sample of euphorbia is alive, but looking dormant.  It’s still early in the year, so I thrilled to have anything happening in the garden at all.

An internet search told me that poinsettia, rubber trees & cactus looking plants are actually euphorbia too.   I’d thought I was just stepping into a pool of plants called euphorbia.  Now I realize it’s a sea! The range is a bit mind-boggling

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012. 

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Flower Count

Flower Count – day 5 – crocus

snow crocus in February
photo by SVSeekins

We can’t get through Victoria’s Flower Count without mentioning the good old snow crocus.  They’re the true harbinger of spring.  In this area they usually start to show themselves by Valentines Day.  This year there were these pastel hints of them at Valentines.

I enjoy watching their dance.  If a beam of sunlight hits, they open their flowers.  As a cloud blocks the sunshine, they close up again.  On a windy day, when the clouds are really moving, crocus can get really busy. It must be exhausting.

They look so delicate, but they’re pretty tough considering the weather they thrive in.  Snow is part of their name for a reason.  I’ve seen them survive a dump of snow without a shiver.  As soon as the sun shows up, they’re even gutsy enough to open their bloom right then & there.

early crocus in peony bed
photo by SVSeekins

I planted some brighter colored varieties in the peony bed.  The other day I noticed those were coming up, too.  I’ll have to tidy up the old peony stems, to better show off these spring bulbs.

Soon enough the new peony sprouts will be reaching for the sun themselves.  By the time the crocus finish, the peonies will take over the bed & give the crocus some shade to rejuvenate in through the summer

dandelions out - crocus bulbs in
photo by SVSeekins

Last fall I started an experiment trying to naturalize some crocus in the boulevard lawn at the same time as digging out some dandelion.  After all that digging, the lawn looked worse for wear, but as the grass is just showing signs of growth, I’m hoping it’ll be looking better soon.

crocus sharing space with moss & grass
photo by SVSeekins

The good news is that the crocus are starting to grow too.  Dividends – Yippee!

The blooms so far look pretty small in comparison to those growing in the flower beds, but there is plenty of growing season to come.  Hopefully they’ll take off this first year & be even stronger next year.

C is talking about the possible need to mow the lawn.  That will be another test.

In the meantime, I’m delighted to see the snow crocus.  Before we know it, daffodils will follow – then it’ll really feel like spring!

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2012. 

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Flower Count

Haultain Common – sharing common ground with common folk

Welcome to Haultain Common garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

They’d hoped it wouldn’t cause concern that they were expanding their garden empire. It was only removing the fence delineating their yard from the street. It was only replacing some weedy grass with dry habitat native plants . Wasn’t it beautifying the neighborhood, safeguarding water resources, and educating the community about our natural environment?

native plantings along Asquith sidewalk  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Happily, the neighbors welcomed the expanded forest glade. Passers by often complimented Rainey Hopewell and Margot Johnson as they tended the public area beside their home on Asquith street, not far from the downtown core of Victoria, BC.

borage Haultain Common herb  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The dynamic couple encouraged neighborhood involvement. The boulevard grew into an active native plant urban demonstration garden with volunteers, workshops, and planting parties..

Building on that success, expansion spread to include the boulevard on the Haultain street edge of their corner lot. This time the intention was to bring to mind issues of local food security. The community pitched in, developing the common area into a shared food garden,

calendula Haultain Common herb 2  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now known as Haultain Common, the boulevard between the sidewalk and curb was first sheet mulched. Over a west coast winter the mulch smothered the grass and weeds below it, developing into nutrient rich, composted soil. By spring it was ready for planting.

Haultain Common veggie patch  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

To start, they chose vegetables that often volunteer in a compost pile: tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins & squash. They share with whomever chooses to join in: parents & kids learning to grow food, seasoned gardeners exploring permaculture, and even urbanites tasting their first home-grown tomato. All are welcome to share in the harvest.

Haultain Common  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Some neighbors donate plants, and even more contribute leaves or compostables on a regular basis, gaining a sense of ownership & belonging in the common and in the community.

Haultain Common, Asquith at Haultain,  garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Over the past several years Haultain Common has grown in profile as well. It’s not unusual to see a university class exploring the garden one day, and a Day Care tour on another. It’s been so well received that a local irrigation company & a landscape company donated the equipment & installation of a watering system for the Common.

Boulevard gardens have cropped up on other properties along Haultain street. They’re also  growing in other neighborhoods around the city. To Margot and Rainey, its been an experience in growth in so many ways.

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© SVSeekins, 2011