Tag Archives: native plants

Mt. Tolmie’s Camas in Bloom

camas blooms cu garry oak meadow garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

It was well worth the half hour walk up the neighborhood trails into Mt. Tolmie Park this morning.  What a sight – – the camas is in bloom!

I like garry oak meadows.  They’re especially inspiring when colored with a sea of blue.  Spring is really here.

early camas bloom Mt. Tolmie, garry oak meadow, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Who would expect wilderness just a short 5km from Victoria’s inner harbour?

Checking out the wildflowers in April & May is at the top of my list for reasons to be a tourist in Victoria.

early camas bloom Mt. Tolmie, gary oak meadow, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

AND if you’re fortunate enough to be around during the last saturday of April, it’s worthwhile checking out Camas Day in Beacon Hill Park.  Its hosted by Friends of Beacon Hill Park & has wildflower tours & speakers.   🙂


Other places to see Camas Meadows:

Garden Chores For Birds

goldenrod & Shasta daisy blooming in august
photo by SVSeekins

So much for the golden haze of summer.  It’s been below freezing here for almost a week.  That’s not a complaint, because we’re cozy inside, but I feel badly for the creatures living outdoors.

A couple of winters ago C & I started hanging a suet log.  The birds love it!

They also clean it out fairly quickly – –  which means one of us must refill it.  We’re pretty good at that, but not perfect.  😦

goldenrod gone to seed
photo by SVSeekins

This autumn I decided to make a change in garden maintenance that would help out the birds just a little more.  I chose to NOT cut back some of the perennials when their bloom finished. I reckon the seed heads might come in handy when the suet log is empty.

Goldenrod has really funky looking seed heads. This perennial is native to North America, so I figure the birds have learned to make use of it over the centuries just as the First Peoples did.

lychnis in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

And if the birds don’t eat these seeds, perhaps they’ll use the fluff to insulate their nests?

ernest fenceline in november
photo by SVSeekins`

Lychnis is another with great summer blooms & and an abundance of winter seed.  This patch along the fenceline is left standing in hopes it’ll be useful for the birds too.

Happily I’m not worried about those seed heads foretelling a full future for weeding.  We mulch the garden beds quite heavily, which (aside from keeping roots warm) has the added benefit of slowing down scattered seeds turning into unwanted plants.  

But hopefully the seeds will all be eaten before my pruning hand become so itchy that I just HAVE TO cut the plants back for tidiness sake. (I have good intentions, but I also know my nature.)

Even as we speak the crocosmia & the hardy fuchsia are dying back & will soon be luring me outside to tidy up.

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

You might also consider:

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Landscaping With Wild Strawberries

An early summer adventure when I was a kid, was picking tiny, wild strawberries.  They were packed with incredible flavour.  We would forage for ages just to bring home a small bowl full, but it was always worth it.

wild strawberries 1
photo by SVSeekins

More recently (2 years ago), at a ‘Gardening with Native Plants’ workshop, I learned those very same plants will happily grow in the urban landscape.  How cool is that?  Plants that provide an opportunity to forage in my own yard AND do double duty as a ground cover! Bring it on!

I’d never seen thick mats of strawberries like those in the photos at the gardening workshop, but Pat Johnston really knows her stuff, so I totally believed it was possible.  I immediately formed a plan.

Trent Street garden
photo by SVSeekins

Pat explained the 2 kinds of local wild strawberries to take into consideration.  The coastal strawberry is a tough, full sun, drought tolerant workhorse.  The woodland strawberry also works great as a ground cover, but performs much better in more shady parts of the garden.

After running across a bed of wild strawberries growing prolifically in a curbside city garden – – and looking like they were about to take over the sidewalk, I was even more encouraged. Who knew wild strawberries would grow so well in town? I set about planting coastal strawberries in our sunny garden bed.

The landscape trend was spreading.  A new native landscape area at the college down the street was planted with wild strawberries, too.

strawberry patch at Camosun's Lansdowne campus
photo by SVSeekins

The other day (2 years later) I walked by the spot and was impressed by how well that area had filled in.  Perhaps the Camosun groundskeepers fertilize a little more than I do?… or maybe they water the area more?  or maybe they originally planted more starts?… I’m not sure.  But it looks great, doesn’t it?.

I reckon our strawberry patch will catch up in another year or two.  In the meantime I’m enjoying watching my own little community of strawberries send out their ‘runner babies’.

The birds are more vigilant than I am, so I don’t expect to ever have enough harvest to make jam or pie.  I figure the occasional berry is a reward for getting out in the garden to water or weed.

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

strawberry patch at Camosun'
photo by SVSeekins