Lithodora Drought Tolerance

Lithodora diffusa, lithospermum diffusum, glandora diffusa, purple groundwell, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I planted Lithodora diffusa underneath the apple tree years ago. It flourished.

A few years later, a Garden Club Speaker told us Lithodora is far more drought tolerant than most people think. He said that, after getting its root system established, it pretty much took care of itself. I love hearing this kind of news from experienced local gardeners. He would know about the months of drought we get on Southern Vancouver Island. He would know what ‘drought tolerant’ really means to us.

Lithodora diffusa, lithospermum diffusum, glandora diffusa, purple groundwell, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Lithodora originates in Turkey & Greece – another area of the globe with long, dry summers. And temperatures there get a lot hotter than ours. (More clues that Lithodora can survive without me hauling the water hose out every other day. )
Sweet.

Lithodora diffusa, lithospermum diffusum, glandora diffusa, purple groundwell, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

So, I shifted our 3 Lithodora plants to the shallow bed near the top of our rocky outcrop in the fall. They were all large enough to have decent-sized root systems, but I watered them occasionally through the following summer just to be sure they established thoroughly in the new bed.
They survived. 🙂
The next year, with hardly any summer moisture, they did just as well. 🙂 🙂

Then I discovered some small Lithodora volunteers under the apple tree. I decided to risk them. So I planted them on a bit of stacked rock along the path leading up the slope.
They survived. 🙂
They established themselves during our rainy winter…
grew more…
and even bloomed.

Lithodora diffusa, lithospermum diffusum, glandora diffusa, purple groundwell, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’m so stoked.

Lithodora makes it onto my list of High-Value Plants.

  • The low-growing evergreen covers the ground like I want.
  • It looks even better draping down rock walls.
  • Each May, blue flowers brighten the spring garden.
  • It’s winter tolerant to -15 C — and that’s plenty cold for here.
  • AND the deer leave it alone.

Happiness blooms in our low-maintenance garden.

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Swamp Lantern, Lysichiton americanus

The first glimpse was a flash of yellow along the trail’s edge. Mid-March can be so grey — but this was bright & happy. 🙂

Lysichiton americanus, Western Skunk Cabbage, swamp lantern, yellow skunk cabbage, American skunk cabbage, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Anything blooming at this time of year makes me smile. Western Skunk Cabbage is no exception. With a name like that, perhaps you’ll think yourself fortunate to see it in a photo rather than in person… but I’ve never noticed a foul odour around this plant. Some say the smell comes when leaves are bruised. Others contend it’s the flowers trying to attract pollinating flies & beetles.

Lysichiton americanus, Western Skunk Cabbage, swamp lantern, yellow skunk cabbage, American skunk cabbage, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Lysichiton americanus is also called the Swamp Lantern. To my mind, this name is more suited. The flower spike is like the candle flame & it’s cupped by a protective spathe that glows & reflects the light– just like a lantern.
A more fitting name, right?
Even still, I often revert to the first name I learned & struggle to remember this one. Perhaps I just need to concentrate more.

In early spring, the flowers emerge in wet areas all along the Pacific Northwest. This spring is no exception. The low laying wetlands bordering Esquimalt Lagoon are prime habitat for this west coast native.

Lysichiton americanus, Western Skunk Cabbage, swamp lantern, yellow skunk cabbage, American skunk cabbage, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’ve seen lots of Swamp Lantern before, but just around the corner the patch swells into the largest. The southern trails at Royal Roads University are a prime pick-me up for my March blues.

The leaves follow the bloom, unfurling in a rosette around the flower. At first they’re small, but they grow quickly in the rich, moist soil.

Lysichiton americanus, Western Skunk Cabbage, swamp lantern, yellow skunk cabbage, American skunk cabbage, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By May, the plants are large & lush. Here’s a patch just off McKenzie Beach near Tofino.

Through the summer they grow even bigger. At peak, a single leaf can be 2 feet wide & twice as long!
Dramatic, eh?

It’s no wonder folks in the UK were impressed when it was introduced as an ornamental in the early 1900’s. It became very popular. It received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Lysichiton americanus, Western Skunk Cabbage, swamp lantern, yellow skunk cabbage, American skunk cabbage, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The conditions in England are so similar to Vancouver Island it thrived. Within 50 years Lysichiton americanus escaped the British garden & was gradually naturalizing along streams & wetlands.
That’s a little too much drama.
Now, the RHS advises against its cultivation.

I’m glad to see Swamp Lantern here, where it grows naturally. It warms my heart. I’m relieved it hasn’t been threatened by more competitive introduced species like many of our wildflowers have been. Its a reminder of how delicate an ecosystem can be.

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Lorraine says:
Hi SV,
I hope you are well and still landscaping.
I remember one of the naturalist talking about bears eating them. So had to look it up.
http://www.mossomcreek.org/swamp-lanterns-skunk-cabbage/
Stay safe,
LS
https://www.yyjproductions.ca/

Street Library Parade

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Street Libraries have been in the news for a few years now. I’ve shown a few that I’ve run across (see the end of this article for a list of past posts). They’re so sweet, I’ll often stop to photograph them when I spot ’em. After my last article, I’d planned to write a couple more as I’d run across 2 new little libraries in our ‘hood. But then I kept finding more… and more. So I reckon it’s just time for a post of all the other little libraries I know of (& add to it as I find more.)

There are several Little Free Libraries on the southern slopes of Mt. Tolmie.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I reckon the folks who protect this door-less library are pretty kind to put the books into plastic boxes during the rainy season.

I quite liked how our neighbours created a library that matched the colours of their house. A year or two later, the house was sold & demolished. The little library disappeared shortly after. Maybe the new home that is built here will get a mini-me little library, too?

There’s one at Doncaster Elementary.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Another on the way to my dentist on Finlayson.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There’s even one at the Church where my garden club meets.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Fernwood is on my cycling route to get downtown. It’s a friendly community with several Free Little Libraries.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by svseekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSEekins
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I especially like the one just north of the Belfry Theatre.

The folks on Ten Mile Point even supplied fresh water for the dog bowl. 🙂

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Cycling along the Lochside Trail through the Blenkinsop Valley, I found this Little Free Library. It’s especially nice of these folks to supply a path over the ditch & seats to rest on.

SP showed me this one in Vic West.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This one is near Bow Park. I wonder if the construction crew built the Little Library at the same time as the house so they could match materials?.

These are from Oak Bay.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
Photo by L.Hume
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
Photo by L.Hume
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
Photo by L.Hume

Even a restaurant at Fort & Foul Bay Rd has a library

This one is from Langford.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by L. Hume

Another friend took these when she decided to donate her spare books to Little Free Libraries instead of selling them to the 2nd hand bookstore. I think she searched them out via a local map of Little Libraries.

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by S.McMillan
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by S.McMillan
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by S.McMillan
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by S.Mcmillan
street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by S.McMillan

street library, book sharing, book exchange, public art, free little library, take a book, public art, Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest

I’m pretty sure she’s dropped some books at this library, too. It’s in her neighbourhood & she’s the one who first showed it to me.

It seems we come across new little libraries every couple of weeks. Someone has even thought to put in a Little Food Pantry.

What will be available to exchange on our next walk?

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P.S.  Here are some of the street libraries I’d already found:

SVSeekins

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