Tag Archives: spring meadow

Meadow Blooms 7 – Wild Violets

So very carefully, I dug some wild violets from our Cedar Hill garden to transplant at our new home, hoping they’d survive the move.   They’ve thrived.  🙂

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

That was 10 years ago.

The small patch of viola did so well I shared them around, planting them in other beds & borders.  They grew happily in pretty much any situation.
Undaunted.
Workhorses.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And then some emigrated to the lawn.
Determined.

Now, each spring, their swath of purple blooms signals that soon, the rest of the garden will be bursting with colour too.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I just have to smile.  Some folks bemoan the fact that once violets get into the lawn, there really is no going back. Fortunately, C has relaxed his goal of a monocultural, grassy lawn.

  • Who can complain about a city meadow of wildflowers that rarely grows high enough to mow?
  • Or tough-as-nails groundcover that stays green through our dry summers?
  • Or flowers that deer ignore?
wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, sand violet, western dog violet, hooked spur violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, aleutian violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The identification of violets isn’t as easy as I expected.  There are well over 500 species worldwide, with many indigenous to North America.

For a long time, I figured this little gem was the Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia), but those are from the eastern side of the continent.  Now I reckon it is either the Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca) or the very similar Alaska Violet (Viola langsdorfii) – both common on Vancouver Island.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, sand violet, western dog violet, hooked spur violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, aleutian violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I consider it a special bonus that these lawn jewels are native to the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) — because for local wildlife, especially spring pollinators, this is comfort food.

Wild violets have been an addition to human diets as well – long before they became trendy as colour in salads.  I can’t say I’ve gathered any for supper, but it is kinda cool thinking of our lawn as an extension of the veggie garden.

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Bunchberry Sightings

On a moist spring day in June, I spotted my first bunchberry.  It was blooming in the dappled shade, beside an old stump in Strathcona Park.

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

You know how it is, once you notice something, you suddenly start seeing it everywhere?

That’s what it’s like with Cornus canadensis.

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

It was in an old clear-cut near Jordan River (also Vancouver Island), I found it again.

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

Even in full sun, it seems decaying wood is bunchberry’s happy place.

The underground rhizomes spread out, creating a matt of blooms – – almost a meadow   🙂    No wonder it’s also called creeping dogwood. What a beautiful transition for a logging debris field.

After getting comfortable identifying the dwarf dogwood flowers, it became my mission to find the plant in berry.  Shouldn’t be hard, right?  After all, it’s named bunchberry.

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

It was 1000 km away, seeking shade from a scorching summer day at Fairmont Hot Springs in the Rocky Mountains when I found the berries.

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

Now I realize why the Latin name Cornus canadensis makes sense.  They grow all across Canada.

The bright orangey-red berries stand out, even in the dappled shade of the understory.

Apparently, they’re edible, but I didn’t test them.  Alongside this well-travelled trail, and easily below a dog’s hip level…  ??  Nope. I was a teeny bit squeamish.

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

Back on the coast, near Tofino, the bunchberries persisted.

Yup.

Berries
– – in October!

Isn’t that a good way to mark Thanksgiving?

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

Word has it that bunchberry leaves turn a beautiful red color in the fall.  I noted some autumn color, but perhaps there’s more to come?

It’s also reported semi-evergreen in the Pacific Northwest… so now I have a new mission.  Do you know where I might find more nearby to monitor through winter?

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see also:

 

Spring Wildflower Walk

I bet you can guess  my response to this meadow of shooting stars? (Dodecatheon)

shooting star meadow, Dodecatheon hendersonii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

C, SM & I are exploring Dean Park when I drop to my knees to check out (& photograph ) the pretty spring flowers,
I’m delighted.
SM is charmed.
C smiles indulgently & waits …

shooting star bloom, Dodecatheon hendersonii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The vibrant magenta colors look so perky! How can these  delicate cyclamen-style bloom be tough enough to survive our temperamental spring weather?

Further down the trail there’s pollen everywhere – in the air, along path edges… even settling on plants & making them look different.  At first glance I thought I’d found a special variegated salal.  Check out the leaf with pollen & without:

I’m not sure exactly where the pollen is from. There’s so much of it I figure it’s got to be from the most dominant species of tree in this park.  Perhaps the douglas fir?

mice tails inside douglas fir cone, Pseudotsuga menziesii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Cones mottle the ground.  SM confirms they’re douglas fir.  She tells me a story about the little mice that hide inside the cones, with only their tails poking out between the layers.  Pretty cute, eh?

In another small clearing  is a meadow of fawn lily  (erythronium).

white fawnn lily meadow, Erythronium oregonum ,garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’m used to seeing them in a more open meadow at Beacon Hill Park, so it’s nice to see they prosper in the dappled shade of the forest edge too.  Of course I need a closer look.  This time C smiles indulgently, but continues on his way.  (He’s here for the fresh air & exercise).

white fawn lily bloom Erythronium oregonum garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s a little  tough to see into the face of the fawn lily because of its nodding head but I reckon that is its way to protect those private bits from the occasional downpour. Can’t you just imagine the bees taking refuge under a fawn lily umbrella?  Keeping  company with a fairy or two ….

yellow violet, viola, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There are many wild violets  growing in our garden, some pink and some blue. Years ago I heard about a  wild yellow violet.   I finally saw a small clump in a Washington State Park last year.  But that’s pretty much it. Today  SM points out one to me.   It is so tiny!   I’d easily have missed it completely, walking right past none the wiser.   It’s so nice to see them growing locally.

Fairy Slipper Calypso bulbosa orchid, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Then SM spies a wild orchid.
                    OMG !!!

I’ve only ever heard of the fairy slipper (calypso bulbosa) .
We’ve got to invite SM along on our hikes more often.     🙂

I’m running around with the camera – up & down…  this angle & that one…
 Bucket list moment !!

C misses the entire thing.

western trillium patch, Trillium Ovatum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

He’s down the trail. When he comes across another native plant he knows I’ll be excited about, he decides to sit until I catch up…

Trillium Is not your typical flower.   When the bloom first opens, the petals are white. Over time they turn pink.  It’s two plants in the space of one.

western trillium, Trillium Ovatum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
western trillium bloom, Trillium Ovatum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Trillium is from the Latin ‘in 3’s’.

  • 3 leaves circle the stem.
  • 3 sepals frame the flower
  • 3 petals highlight the bloom
  • the stamens are set in groups of 3.
  • there are 3 chambers to the seed pod

I reckon it looks slightly alien.

With so much of interest in the groundcover I’ve barely looked up at all.

salmonberry shrub coming into leaf, Rubus spectabilis, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

SM asks me about a tall, rangey shrub just coming into leaf.  This time I’m the one to help with ID.  Salmonberry is one of the early spring shrubs.   I first noticed its flowers  while  horseback riding through the Sooke Hills.

About the same time these bright fuchsia flowers bloom, the rufous hummingbirds return for the season.  Kismet.

salmonberry flower, Rubus spectabilis, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I once planted salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) in our garden but later realized that a pretty flower & tasty berries didn’t balance with my aversion to growing anything with thorns.  Now I just enjoy salmonberries in the wild.

March, April & May are fabulous times to view the native flowers around Victoria.   Before I’m ready, many of them disappear into  dormancy.  It’s their way of surviving our long dry summers.  Seems kinda backwards, doesn’t it?  We often wait for the summer warmth before heading outdoors, and before it even gets too hot, the big show is over.

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