Category Archives: months 01-03: winter

January thru March

Winter Magic

Life is magic.  Two days after the heavy winter storm, life proves itself.

winter aconite, eranthis in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And magic begins.

The snow has melted!  In just 2 days?  Even here on the coast, that seems crazy-fast.

I tentatively wander through the yard assessing the damage.

snowdrops galanthus primula wanda after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

My muscles certainly remember shoveling sidewalks & shaking shrubs.  But the winter blooms?  They’re like children in a hospital ward.  Perhaps a little bent & broken, but mostly they’re just happy to be alive and enjoying the sunshine.

snowdrops and primula after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The yellow cups of the winter aconite (Eranthis) don’t seem to have noticed they’ve survived 33 cm of snowfall since they showed themselves in January.   (That’s more than 12 inches – a full foot – – radical for balmy Victoria  BC!)

cyclamen coum in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The snowdrops (Galanthus) have also held up well.

The Primula Wanda leaves are super-sad, but who can’t smile at those tough purple flowers?

I hadn’t even noticed the crocus buds before the snow.  How did they arrive so quickly?

snowdrops galanthus after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The Cyclamen coum unfurl their petals as the sun warms them.  More blooms are on their way, too!  Soon they’ll be a mound of pink.

I’ve just gotta smile.

🙂

 

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A Heavy Snow Load

It was a dark and snowy night…

This is not normal for Victoria.  The snow might be pretty but this is a rain-forest.  We’re not set up for snow.  Neither are our gardens.

the Yew bending under the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Tonight’s concern is the snow load on the hedging.  It’s amazing how flexible some branches can be as snow gathers & literally weighs them down. But some wood fibers are breaking as the branches bend.  The sooner the weight is removed, the more likely a branch is to bounce back & resume its regular shape for good.

the Yew recovering from the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Out comes my trusty rake.  Wielding it backward, I thrust the pole end into the lowest branches & give the shrub a light shake.

It’s best to start low & gradually work up.  Release the load from lower branches before risking adding more to them with the snow falling off upper branches.

Arbutus unedo bending under the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Once broken, there’s no mending a branch.  All those years of growing into a full-sized shrub…
the lovely shape…
our increased privacy…
can be ruined overnight.  Heart-wrenching.

Arbutus unedo recovering from the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by sVSeekins

Although hedgers like yew & cedar are especially susceptible, same goes for the broadleaf evergreens.  Rhododendron.
Strawberry Tree.
Camellia.

Flower buds are already well-formed on the rhodos & camellia.  So if I want many blooms this spring, it requires a delicate shake to remove the snow & only the snow.

After that, it’s good to head inside, dry off & treat myself to a hot chocolate (with Frangelico). After all, it’s a dark and snowy night…

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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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