Category Archives: months 04-06: spring

April thru June

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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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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In The Fuchsia Garden

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

One of my favorite places is the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific.  A gardener’s garden.  I learn something each visit.

MS - Hardy Fuchsia in bloom , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This time it’s putting a specific name to the hardy fuchsia growing in our own garden:
Fuchsia magellanica var. gracilis.

At least I’m pretty certain that’s what our hardy fuchsia is…

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Walking through HCP’s Fuchsia garden boggles my mind.  Apparently there are many more varieties of hardy fuchsia than I imagined.

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There are tall hedging shrubs and shorter mid-border shrubs…

Others that are so small they’re classified as perennials instead of shrubs…

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Most have flowers with red sepals and purple petals in the centers…

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But others are pink… or white… or even orangey…

Most leaves are forest-green,
but others are lime-green,
or variegated-green.  These really show up against a bit of shade.

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There are so many species, sub species & hybrids!

hardy fuchsia at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, September , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now that I look more closely, I’m thinking my garden’s hardy fuchsia might be a F. coccinea instead…
maybe?

Either way, I’m stoked to grow a plant that looks so exotic. Check out the variety of Fuchsia that are winter hardy for gardens in the Pacific Northwest (Canada & USA) :
The North West Fuchsia Society

Perhaps there’ll be a few varieties at HCP’s annual Fall Sale coming up on October 1.

FYI – these photos show only some of the hardy fuchsia varieties growing in the gardens at HCP

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