Well over a century ago, someone planted crocus in a garden at Hillside Farm. In the late 1880’s much of the farm became a subdivision. Then, 90 years after that, the original home site became Summit Park. Even though the gardens are no longer there, the crocuses are. They’ve survived & naturalized in the Garry Oak meadow.
Seeing the tiny blooms peeking out of the grass as the sun shines down on them delights me. Crocus isn’t as showy as the native fawn lily & camas that bloom here in April & May, but their energy is exuberant. In February, I need this excitement.
Snow Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus) is reputed as the best of the 90 Crocus species for naturalizing. A decade ago, I planted bags & bags of mixed snow crocus in a patch of lawn outside our home. It’s doing okay but not up to Summit Park’s showing. I wonder if the Hillside homesteader had access to bags of bulbs way back then… Perhaps, s/he ordered catalogue seed?
A new public art installation is just a few blocks away at Cedar Hill Rec Centre.
Three squared totem poles mark a junction in the walking trail.
But these poles are more than just sculpture. They’re hollow boxes suspended on posts – –
GIANT box drums!
How cool is that? Interactive art!
At the official opening, the artist, Carey Newman, said a few words about these Earth Drums. Then he introduced his brother to play a First Nations’ composition created especially for these drums.
After years of living on the West Coast, I recognize the raven on the tallest pole. The frog, on the shortest pole, is also recognizable. It’s tougher seeing the wolf on the 3rd pole, but eventually, I catch on.
The audience at the Official Opening was appreciative. I wanted to play with the drums right then, but shyness made me decide to come back when the crowd had thinned.
Yesterday the sun was shining & I explored the different tones of each instrument. Hikers seemed curious & interested in the dynamic installation, too. Its placement is a blatant invitation to play. Can anyone resist?
Then a gaggle of pre-schoolers surrounded the poles. A low burble of music ensued. 🙂 No, really – – it was music. The pitch was low enough… the frenzy actually became a pulse. It was more like music than any Christmas drum-set I ever played. (The neighbours need not worry.)
What does Southern Vancouver Island have in common with Turkey on the Mediterranean?
Cyclamen hederifolium is native to Turkey, and that climate is quite like ours.
Would you’ve guessed?
So it kinda makes sense:
What prospers there…
Hardy Cyclamen likes our dry summer. It goes dormant. Later, the cooling temperatures & returning rain of September triggers the awakening. One morning flowers are popping out of the ground & dancing in the dappled shade. What a lovely surprise. Flowers in autumn!
(Plus, what a bonus – a pretty plant that doesn’t need me dragging around a garden hose… AND one that’s happy in those tough-to-garden spots under trees!)
After pollinators do their thing, the flower stems curl into tight coils, pulling the seed pods to the ground. Leaves emerge, protecting the pods from our winter wind & rain. How tidy is that? I never feel the urge to deadhead. (Extra bonus – decorative foliage that stays green through our long, glum winter. And IF we get snow & severe cold, the cyclamen survives to -28C a colder winter than we’re likely to get.)
While so much of the garden is going nuts through spring, Cyclamen hederifolium is wrapping up its display. The leaves die back, revealing the maturing seed pods. A matt of balls on coil springs remind me where the plant is preparing for sleep. Doesn’t it look GROOVY?
Ants think it’s pretty groovy, too. The seeds are coated with a sweet film. Ants gather them & take them home to feed the masses.
Win – Win – Win.
Ants get a treat.
The seed is sown.
And the gardener has a new no-fuss plant.
What an ingenious system for naturalizing through the garden … and beyond.
Barely noticeable little seedlings sprout in lawns & woodland parks alike. Eventually, the tiny corms can grow to the size of dinner plates.
Welcome or not.
I grow a few varieties of Hardy Cyclamen. Over 10 years, I’ve noticed a couple baby plants growing near their parents. I’m particularly fond of the February bloomer Cyclamen coum.
C. coum is a timid seeder in comparison with the C. hederifolium. The fall bloomer out-competes the winter bloomer. I’m very careful to keep each cyclamen variety in its own bed.
Believe it or not — C. hederifolium is on the District of Saanich’s Invasive Plants list! It naturalizes that well around here. It must out-compete more than just the C. coum.
I have to admit to still holding a torch for these funky plants.
Does it count in my favour that I’ve dug some cyclamen invaders out of a couple wild parklands?
They’ve been planted in spots they’re not likely to escape without notice…