Category Archives: natives

Geum macrophyllum – Large-Leaved Avens

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

I first really noticed Large-Leaved Avens as a specific wildflower when I found it blooming beside the waterfall at Goldstream Park one May.  Before that, it was just one of the many yellow blooms we see in spring.

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

Recently I was pleased to see it blooming in a parking lot, not far from the ocean, near Tofino.  That was at Thanksgiving!

October is really very late for a spring wildflower to be blooming – but I’m not complaining.   🙂

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

The flower is a simple yellow daisy style; a smiling happy bloom that I find charming.
Unassuming.
Easy.

But Geum macrophyllum is not as plain as it first appears.

large-leaved avens, Geum macrophyllum, largeleaf avens, big leaf avens, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The seedhead is funky – certainly something that I’d let stand in my garden rather than tidy up.

The achenes (fruits) kinda remind me of googly eyes floating above the alien body.    Apparently, the pom-poms are happy to catch rides on passing pant legs or animals: free spirits looking for adventures far afield.  Groovy.

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

But really, the magic is in the foliage.  What other plant has 2 kinds of leaves?  Right at the base, near the ground, the leaves are round.  Further up the stem, near the flowers, they’ve morphed into 3 lobes with deep serrations.  Crazy.

The guidebooks say Avens are common to wetlands across most of North America.  I’m hoping they’ll become common in my garden, too.  Last month I won 3 in the plant raffle at the Native Plant Study Group.  They’re now growing in one of our courtyard beds (where they’re more likely to get the extra summer moisture they need).  Cross your fingers for me.

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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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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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