Category Archives: drought tolerant

Self-heal

It’s no secret that I like wildflowers, but occasionally my affections are tested.

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

Self-heal is a perennial with pretty pink (sometimes purple) flowers.  It’s tough as nails.  It thrives in moist meadows & dry roadsides alike.  It thrives so well that it’s pretty much worn out its welcome in my garden.  I always weed it out of formal beds and usually remove it from the rockery, in favor of plants I prefer.

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

But I feel torn.

  •  Indigenous Peoples and cultures around the world have made good use of self-heal.
  • Bees & butterflies love the flowers.
  • Birds eat the seeds.
  • Deer nibble at the leaves without over-grazing.

Just because it self-sows willy-nilly, should I really be so judgmental?

A neighbor welcomes self-heal into her garden.  I can appreciate it there, but I’m not the one working to keep it from out-competing her other plants.  Lazy me.

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

Self-heal has established itself in C’s lawn.  It seems to hold its own beside the grass, clover, wild violets and English daisies. It survives the mower and the foot traffic. I’m rather pleased that C’s monoculture ‘lawn’ is becoming more of a diversified ‘meadow’.  I’m just fine with enjoying the self-heal in this space, too.

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

Perhaps this balances out barring it from the garden beds & borders?
Is it enough?
Am I redeemed?

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Embracing the Easy – Japanese Anemone

With waist height blooms twirling in the breeze, Japanese anemone caught my eye shortly after we moved into Richmond House.

Japanese Anemone japonica x hybrida blooming in November garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest,
photo by SVSeekins

A good patch grew close to the house foundations, but because of the drain tile project, it had to go.  Happily Japanese anemone transplant like a dream.  Their roots run along just under the soil, and don’t seem bothered about being split up a bit.

Japanese anemone japonica x hybrida in bloom, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Originally the deer seemed to leave the Japanese anemone alone, so I’ve experimented with several locations around the property.  In areas of deer congestion, the plants were grazed to about 8 inches high, and rarely bloomed.

Beside the busy bus stop, or along the crowded driveway, the deer leave Japanese anemone alone.  I’d say they’re salads of opportunity.

Japanese Anemone japonica x hybrida in drought, blooming in October garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest,
photo by SVSeekins

In their favor, Japanese anemone are hyper-resilient.

  •  After the deer eat them, they come right back.
  • After I shift them to a new location, they come right back.
  • There’s a very determined specimen that survived the soil being removed 8 feet deep during drain tile renovations.

Considering that plant is happy so close to the foundation wall, under the eaves where there’s no rainfall nor irrigation – – I’d say it qualifies as drought tolerant as well.

Japanese anemone japonica x hybrida blooming in September garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest,
photo by SVSeekins

It’s nice to have a plant that is happy in dry shade.  Dappled shade is great, but it struggles in deep shade.

The lengthy blooming period is a big plus in my books.  The pink blooms decorate the garden starting in July, and wrapping up in December.  That’s 6 months of color!

WS - Japanese anemone japonica x hybrida blooming in September garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

With all of these qualities, some might consider Japanese anemone an invasive.  I don’t really look at it that way.  Certainly it is determined, but I haven’t found it popping up in areas where I haven’t put it. My advice would be to consider carefully when choosing a planting site.

I may live to regret this.  Have you?

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Changing Attitudes About Yarrow

yarrow, Achillea millefolium
photo by SVSeekins

As a kid I thought wild yarrow was a boring flower.  Its helicopter-landing-pad  flowers might be interesting to butterflies & other pollinators, but I couldn’t get past the bland white petals.

Little did I know, but there are varieties beyond our native wildflower.   Just a block or so away from our current garden, a neighbour grows a striking stand of yellow yarrow (probably Achillea ‘moonshine’ in a very sunny, & dry border.

yarrow achilea moonshine garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now that I care for my own garden, I can appreciate a plant that rarely needs water or attention.

It rocks that our local deer left it alone when I added it to our landscape.

It was an additional bonus that, after cutting back the flowering stems in autumn, a ferny mound of foliage remained evergreen.

yarrow achillea millefolium pomegranate garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

More recently I saw a red-flowering yarrow (likely Achillea pomegranate).  I’m not sure why I’d assumed our native yarrow was the only variety, but I’m delighted it isn’t.

yarrow achillea millefolium pomegranate garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There’s a place for this one in our garden, too. Even though the West Coast is a rain forest, very little of that rain falls in July or August.  Tough ornamentals are treasures.

It’s good to note that if regularly irrigated, yarrow is a vigorous spreader.  The easiest way to keep it in a manageable clump is to reduce irrigation.  Easy-peasy.  I can do that  🙂

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