Category Archives: garden plant lists

featured plants

July Meadow

After our drain tile renovation destroyed our lawn, we laid sod.

clover, selfheal, purple deadnettle, meadow, self-heal, Prunella, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In the 10 years following, other plants joined the grassy monoculture.  Our classic lawn has become more of an urban meadow.

I still enjoy the tidy look of a freshly mown lawn… all smooth & green…  But I appreciate the wildflowers, too.

blacktail fawn deer garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And I’m not alone.

The local deer seem to be spending more time grazing the meadow than they do harvesting in the ornamental beds.
Hooray for that!
For the moment I can enjoy watching the young family  – – rather than spend my time shooing them out of the garden.

wild clover, trefoil, Trifolium, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Wild clover naturalized early on.  It mostly blooms white, like the short Dutch clover, but often with a hint of pink.  I wonder if it’s interbred with the larger red clover which we grew fields of on the homestead?  So sweet.  Think clover honey…
(FYI – I’ve never been stung in our yard).

selfheal, purple deadnettle, self-heal, Prunella, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Self-heal, aka purple deadnettle, works wonderfully as a low growing groundcover too. Like the clover, it stays green while grass browns in the summer dry. Prunella vulgaris blossoms attract more beneficial insects into our yard.  The seed feeds birds, too.

creeping buttercup, sitfast, restharrow, creeping crowfoot, Ranunculus repens, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The European Creeping Buttercup is well established under our apple tree & along the shady foundations of the house.  Ranunculus repens resides safely below the lawnmower blades. It colonizes via runners. New roots spring off a runner a few inches from the mother plant, creating a baby.  Then the same runner continues along for more adventures.  In our yard, it’s never crept toward the drier, sunnier areas.

creeping buttercup, sitfast, restharrow, creeping crowfoot, Ranunculus repens, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

C thinks the buttercup is pretty.
But the deer avoid the whole plant.   They’ll graze carefully all around it.  To mammals buttercup is toxic. (Blisters inside the mouth & throat are reason enough to avoid.)
That said, insects enjoy the flowers.
🙂

blacktail fawn twins deer, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I recently learned from Dr. L. A. Gilkeson that insects have declined at least 45% since the 1970s. (!! That’s 10 times faster than we’re losing mammals  !!) The decline is mostly due to habitat loss – and lawns don’t count as ‘habitat’ if they’re monocultures.

blacktail doe deer grazing on clover selfheal meadow, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In fact, untended weedy lots have more insects than a diverse ornamental garden.  Perhaps in relaxing our ideas about the golf green lawn, we’re helping sustain the insect population that’s left?  I’m confident our meadow hosts far more insects than the post-reno sod did.

blacktail fawn deer garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This meadow is certainly better for the birds & bees.  The deer like it more.  And it’s less maintenance for us.  With the deer helping out, C doesn’t need to mow or fertilize it as often.  We don’t water it as much.  Granted, the meadow wants to creep into the decorative borders just like a grass lawn wants to do. So, I’m still edging the beds.  Oh well, one day I’ll come up with a solution for that.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying the flowers & all the wildlife.    🙂

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Here are some other meadows:

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Welcoming More Nodding Onion

The warm July browns the moss on our rocky outcropping.  The licorice ferns have disappeared into their summer dormancy.  It’s the Nodding Onions that brave the drought.

sweet onion, barbecuing onion, nodding wild onion, lady's leek, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The delicate pink flowers of Allium cernuum look too delicate to survive the heat – but here they are.  🙂

Last year the deer grazed this patch of wild bulbs. That surprised me because deer tend to leave smelly plants alone.  But this year? It seems this onion is not on their menu. Who knows why?

sweet onion, barbecuing onion, nodding wild onion, lady's leek, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Nodding onion is a native wildflower throughout the pacific northwest.  It likes the winter rain & summer dry of Southern Vancouver Island.  It’s a perfect low maintenance garden plant.  Instead of primping & coddling exotic plants – I welcome more of these natives into our ornamental garden.

So, I’m letting this little clump just do its thing.
No deadheading,
therefore
Self-seeding.
I’m imagining a haze of summer pink on this hillside in a few years.  Can’t you imagine?

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Cyclamen Seedpods

What does Southern Vancouver Island have in common with Turkey on the Mediterranean?
Hardy Cyclamen.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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…
prospers here.

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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!)

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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.)

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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?

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What an ingenious system for naturalizing though 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.

hardy cyclamen coum, eastern cyclamen C. coum garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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.

hardy cyclamen, persian violet, , ivy-leaved cyclamen or sowbread, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Believe it or not — C. hederifolium is on the District of Saanich’s Invasive Plants list!  It naturalises 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….

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