Tag Archives: shrub border

Belief In Magic

It was one morning in September 2006 when I realized fairies are real.  Dancing in the autumn chill beneath the birdbath was a flurry of naked ladies.

colchicum in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

I found them enchanting…
surely elves & pixies would pop up any minute.

Only a month had passed since we’d purchased our home.  I’d done nothing in the yard, besides delivering a few pots from our old home.  This magic just ‘happened‘…  unprompted.

birdbath 2006 09
photo by SVSeekins

We were crazy-busy, making the house our own.  It would be a long while before much time could be spared for gardens…
yet I knew, then & there, this circle of fairy dancers had to be incorporated into our landscape plans… Somehow.

Given the birdbath & tiny flower bed was awkwardly adrift in a sea of lawn, I needed imagination.  It took me a while to figure out what to do with it.

birdbath bed 2008 01
photo by SVSeekins

Finally, we moved forward, creating a corner border. Rock edging started at the forsythia & gate (to the right / east)…
encompassed the birdbath,  & cherry tree at the end of the driveway (center-right)…
then followed the northern fence line to the rhododendron (far left).  (photo: Xmas 2007)

birdbath bed 2009 08
photo by SVSeekins

Early on, it felt like a giant, near-empty space that would take forever to turn into a real garden.  The new shrubs seemed tiny & lost. The local deer nibbled the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo).  They nearly destroyed the Bottlebrush (Callistemon) with their antlers. Happily, the fairies came back every autumn to dance in the shivery sunshine.  The deer gave them peace. 🙂     (photo: August 2009)

birdbath bed 2013 09
photo by SVSeekins

Five years in, it was starting to look like something more.   The Rhodo (far left) loved the company – growing almost as much as the newer shrubs.  Those shrubs were now large enough to stand up against the deer a little better, so I removed their cages.  The birds & fairies were enjoying the extra privacy as the garden grew up around the birdbath.   (photo: Sept. 2013)

birdbath bed 2019 09
photo by SVSeekins

After a dozen years, the party continues.  The shrubs have matured into small trees.  The border has grown into a mini-woodland.  The birdbath almost disappears in the dappled understory! I reckon it’s even more magical than before. And each September, the fairies come to dance.     (photo: Sept. 2019)

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Scary Berries – Red Osier Dogwood

Cornus sericea,  Cornus. stolonifera, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood berries, flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Until recently I hadn’t seen the freaky eyeball berries of the Red Osier Dogwood even though I’d planted the shrub in our garden several years ago.

Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There are several reasons why I’d planted Cornus sericea in our garden:

  • It’s native to Canada & flourishes around BC, so I figured it would survive well & be low maintenance.
  • Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    The flowers attract local pollinators.

  • The berries are a food source for many songbirds.
  • The dense vegetation provides wildlife shelter.
  • Red Osier Dogwood provides garden interest through all 4 seasons:
    Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  1. Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Flat-topped, white clumps of small flowers emerge in spring.

  2. Those flowers morph into panicles of white berries in summer & persist well into winter.
  3. The green leaves have the distinct parallel veins that make the shrub noticeable from other background shrubs in summer, but it’s the reds of fall foliage that’s even more eye-catching.
  4. Red Osier Dogwood’s ornamental fame is based on the vibrant red bark of young stems – so decorative in winter when deciduous shrubs are bare & the world seems grey.

This is all true.
But there were 2 attributes I soon discovered for myself.

  1. Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Red Osier Dogwoods survive drier sites but prefer lakesides & wet ditches.  It’s happier with more moisture than our garden gets through long, dry summers.

  2. Deer.
    Deer enjoy the foliage & the flowers.  Unfortunately, they’re too greedy to ever let the specimen in our garden prosper – much less ever go into berry.

I finally gave up & dug out the struggling shrub.

Cornus sericea,  C. stolonifera, C.  alba, C. occidentalis, Swida sericea, red osier dogwood, red-osier dogwood, red willow, red stem dogwood, red twig dogwood, red-rood, creek dogwood, western dogwood, American dogwood, white berries, white flowers, white berry, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now I enjoy sightings of Red Osier Dogwood in the wild – where the deer population is not as condensed.

At this time of year, when I’m out hiking, the freaky eyeball berries remind me the spooky season is upon us & trick-or-treaters will be coming to our door.

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bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, dwarf dogwood,, creeping dogwood, dwarf cornel, crackerberry, native wildflower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Another dogwood that I admire:
Creeping Dogwood
aka
Bunchberry
(Cornus Canadensis)
– – a groundcover,
rather than a shrub
🙂

Indian Plum – A Winter Joy

It’s not really a pretty shrub, but still, I’d like a thicket of Indian Plum in our border.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s specifically because of the leaf buds & blossoms in February.  They calm my cabin fever & help me through the last several weeks of winter.  Against the grey skies, the leaves look so perky & hopeful … and determined.  Even the inconsequential greenish-white flowers are exciting when little else is happening.

Indian plum grows happily in Partial Shade, not needing the prime Full Sun real estate that I protect for really showy plantings.  It’s common across the coastal Pacific Northwest below  Vancouver Island.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

When we lived on Cedar Hill, there was a large suckering thicket behind our house, at the base of the rocky slope.  The robins nested in the multiple stems of the 12-15 ft tall thicket.  The shrubs did their thing in the understory before the gary oaks hogged most of the sunshine through summer.

Perhaps best known as Indian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis, is sometimes called June Plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum and Bird Cherry.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It might sound like a promising fruit source, but those inconsequential flowers turn into inconsequential fruits.  I’ve heard the berries shift through a pretty orange kaleidoscope before maturing into a dark purple-black, but I can’t say I’ve noticed.  The shrub blends into the background as other plants compete for attention in later spring.

Oemleria cerasiformis, aka Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, or Bird Cherry, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I did check out the un-inticing tiny black plums once.
Bitter.
With pits.
Perhaps it’s best to consider it wildlife forage.

The early flowers feed hungry resident Anna’s hummingbirds e and signal that the Rufus will soon be returning from warmer climes.  The leaves & fruit provide forage for birds, deer & other mammals.  Isn’t it just good Karma to host a thicket?

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