Category Archives: months 01-03: winter

January thru March

Wooly Sunflower has Staying Power

May blooms in our garden
photo by SVSeekins

This year I’ve really enjoyed the usual spring flush of color in the garden.  One plant, in particular, has attracted my admiration more than any of the others.

Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Wooly Sunflower (aka Oregon Sunshine & Eriophyllum lanatum) started blooming mid-May and didn’t stop until the end of June!  The sunny, yellow, daisy blooms lasted as the peonies & rhododendron spectacles came and went.  Hooray for Staying Power.

There are more reasons to admire Wooly Sunflower:

  • Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Deer leave it alone – – no missing flowers or over-pruned foliage.

  • It attracts & feeds the local pollinators especially well because it’s native to our part of the world (southern BC & through the states to Mexico).
  • Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    It’s very drought tolerant.  I’ve seen them in Strathcona Park, growing in the gravel of a roadside pull-out!  They actually seem to do better with LESS water in our garden.  The plants that I watered more regularly sent out long blooming stems that flopped over under the weight of the blooms.

  • Once established, it’s easy-care.  all I do is sheer off the spent flowers in July or August, creating a well-groomed look.
  • Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    In our climate, it’s evergreen – – or shall I say, ever-grey. It’s so nice to have the tidy mounds of foliage through the more barren garden of winter.

Originally, I thought it would be an easy addition to our garden.  I had a tough time getting the small 4-inch pots of Eriophyllum lanatum established.   Although I watered them weekly, they struggled on our rocky outcrop – – a match to their natural habitat!  After a couple of years, I was frustrated.  What worked, in the end, was shifting the small starts to an area with deeper soil, that was still watered weekly but not baked in as much sun.

Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The plants quickly grew, spreading to a foot wide in one season.  They were a bit lanky & not terribly attractive, but had established a stronger root mass.  In the fall I divided them, keeping deep rootballs, & planted them into drier areas.  They settled into their new homes over our moist winter & flourished with very little water through the following dry summer.

Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now we have Wooly Sunflower in several areas: the boulevard, the rocky outcrop, & our more traditional flower garden.  I’m on the lookout for even more easy-care native plants that suit…..

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Other native plants that I’d welcome into our garden:

 

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Meadow Blooms 7 – Wild Violets

So very carefully, I dug some wild violets from our Cedar Hill garden to transplant at our new home, hoping they’d survive the move.   They’ve thrived.  🙂

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

That was 10 years ago.

The small patch of viola did so well I shared them around, planting them in other beds & borders.  They grew happily in pretty much any situation.
Undaunted.
Workhorses.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And then some emigrated to the lawn.
Determined.

Now, each spring, their swath of purple blooms signals that soon the rest of the garden will be bursting with color too.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I just have to smile.  Some folks bemoan the fact that once violets get into the lawn, there really is no going back. Fortunately, C has relaxed his goal of a monocultural, grassy lawn.

  • Who can complain about a city meadow of wildflowers that rarely grows high enough to mow?
  • Or tough-as-nails groundcover that stays green through our dry summers?
  • Or flowers that deer ignore?
wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, sand violet, western dog violet, hooked spur violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, aleutian violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Identification of violets isn’t as easy as I expected.  There are well over 500 species worldwide, with many indigenous to North America.

For a long time, I figured this little gem was the Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) but those are from the eastern side of the continent.  Now I reckon it is either the Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca) or the very similar Alaska Violet (Viola langsdorfii) – both common on Vancouver Island.

wild violets in lawn, early blue violet, sand violet, western dog violet, hooked spur violet, viola audunca, alaska violet, aleutian violet, viola lnagsdorfii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I consider it a special bonus that these lawn jewels are native to the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) — because for local wildlife, especially spring pollinators, this is comfort food.

Wild violets have been an addition to human diets as well – long before they became trendy as color in salads.  I can’t say I’ve gathered any for supper, but it is kinda cool thinking of our lawn as an extension of the veggie garden.

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P.S.  Here’s some other meadow faves:

 

Satin Flower (Olsynium douglasii)

Woohoo!! The Satin Flower bloom opened the other day – – AND I’ve checked it 3 mornings in a row now – It’s Still There!!

Olsynium douglasii, Douglas' olsynium, Douglas' grasswidow, grasswidow, blue-eyed grass, purple-eyed-grass, satin flower, Sisyrinchium douglasii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Ok, so that sounds just a little crazed,
but Satin Flower is one of the very earliest Pacific Northwest native wildflowers –
and it’s so pretty!

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

It’s really well suited to our rocky outcrop that’s very moist in winter & very dry in summer.  So, this Olsynium douglasii (aka Douglas’ olsynium, Douglas’ grasswidow, grasswidow, blue-eyed grass, purple-eyed-grass, or satin flower) should be happy in our gary oak meadow.

But the deer are happy here, too.

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

When I first bought a couple of these perennial herbs from Sannich Native Plants (Thank you Kristen & James!), I planted them too near the deer’s regular route.  Fortunately, I saw the bloom the first morning.
It was gone the next.
I simply shifted the plants to a steeper section of our rocky outcropping, hoping the deer might leave them alone.  Fingers crossed.

The next year – Success.!

Now I’m hoping these sweet little flowers will happily do their thing & naturalize into more of a clump – maybe even spread around a bit!  🙂

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