Category Archives: garden visits

exploring other gardens

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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Red Hot Pokers – Kniphofia

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Red Hot Pokers are goofy plants.

Folks either love ’em or hate ‘en.

Me?
I love ’em.

Here’s why:

  •  The ‘red hot’ blooms remind me of Halloween candy corn from when I was a kid.

    gravel screenings on our garden path, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Kniphofia grow happily on our rocky outcrop in very little soil…
    with very little moisture…
    So they’re super drought tolerant AND low maintenance, too.  Win, win!
  • They’ve transplanted easily into partial-shade borders.  I like plants that are easy to grow.

    red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Hummingbirds & bees LOVE LOVE LOVE the blooms.
  • The deer – – not so much.  Our local deer just ignore the Kniphofia     🙂
  • Red Hot Pokers, aka Torch Lilies, are  pretty much evergreen in Victoria – –  unless it snows.
    In which case they immediately turn to slime…
    Then come up fresh & green again when the weather calms down.  That works just fine for me.

    red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

The Red Hots I’m most familiar with  – – those with the graduated red + orange + yellow on one poker – –   bloom in our garden in May.

Last July I saw some blooming in  the Government House Gardens.  I immediately searched out a few summer bloomers for our place.

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

These varieties, likely Knifophia uvaria ‘echo mango’ and ‘echo rojo’ are  dwarf and have much narrower leaves. They’re designed to re-bloom throughout the growing season.

They also stayed green through the winter,  although they looked a little more dried & messy compared to the May bloomers.  Happily they bounced back in the spring sunshine.  Now they’re blooming !

The deer have nibbled a couple tender flower spikes, but I’m hoping that’s just curiosity, and they’ll leave the dwarf plants alone from now on.  Finger’s crossed.

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

To my amazement Abkhazi Garden had some Red Hot Pokers blooming near their front gate in December!
Who knew?

Isn’t that a Must Have?

Anyone know where I can source some of those??

lilac, red hot pokers, irs, lupin Lupinus, with the ceanothus just about to come into bloom too, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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