Category Archives: gardens with wildlife

living around wildlife

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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Broad-Leaved Stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)

broad leaved stonecrop, spatula-leaved, sedum spathulifolium,, pacific sedum, spoon-leaved, Colorado stonecrop, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There it was, carpeting a cliff along the beach, one of the toughest plants I know.
Broad-Leaved Stonecrop.

The rain drains quickly, rinsing nutrients from the rocky soil.

  • Drought tolerant.
  • No need for feed.
  • A suitable candidate for planting on a green roof?
broad leaved stonecrop, spatula-leaved, sedum spathulifolium,, pacific sedum, spoon-leaved, Colorado stonecrop, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It clings & dangles tenaciously, spreading when leaning stems touch ground  & sprout tiny roots.  If a piece breaks off, it’s determined to grow right where it lands.
Resolved.
Insistent.

broad leaved stonecrop, spatula-leaved, sedum spathulifolium,, pacific sedum, spoon-leaved, Colorado stonecrop, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It seems content in shade.

In the full sun, the succulent, spatula-shaped leaves change from grey-green to red.
Who needs flowers when foliage is so decorative?

broad leaved stonecrop, spatula-leaved, sedum spathulifolium,, pacific sedum, spoon-leaved, Colorado stonecrop, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But Sedum spathulifolium blooms, too — starry, bright yellow flowers in June.  Happy flowers.

I welcomed this coastal native into my garden a couple of years ago & am not disappointed.  Once placed in a gravelly patch, there’s not much to do with it.  I leave it alone, & so do the deer.  Score!

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Playfair’s Camas In Bloom

Playfair Park Camas meadow, great camas, Camassia leichtlinii garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There seems to be a buzz about Playfair Park this spring – and it’s not just the pollinators.  Several people have told me about how spectacular its Camas meadow is.  Of course, I had to check it out.

Playfair Park Camas meadow garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I used to think that Camas meadows were beautiful gifts from Mother Nature, but it turns out she’s had a helping hand.  First Peoples farmed Camas for its food value.  Their work created more intense swaths of blue each spring.  Left untended these fruitful fields decline & are overtaken by more dominant species.

Playfair Park Camas meadow not restored garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The Camas fields that are now Playfair Park succumbed to invasive grasses and introduced species.  Fortunately, volunteer Colleen OBrien came on the scene around 2010 with grand ideas, determination and stamina.  Over many years she’s gained the respect & cooperation of Saanich Parks, and their Pulling Together Program.

Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinii garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The Common Camas bloom (Camas quamash) was pretty much over when I arrived, but the Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii) was in full glory. I stopped in my tracks, slack-jawed.  It was so much more intense than I’d expected.

Seablush, shortspur, rosy plectritis, Plectritis congesta garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What a joy to wander the paths of this paradise.  The over-the-top spectacle of the Camas is complemented by a striking variety of native companion plants:

  • Seablush, shortspur, rosy plectritis, Plectritis congesta garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Seablush (Plectritis congesta) on rocky outcrops will grow happily at only ankle height. In a deep soil meadow, it reaches my knees in little explosions of pink joy.

  • Spring Gold, Lomatium utriculatum , common lomatium; fine-leaved lomatium garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Spring Gold (Lomatium utriculatum) is the most recognized punch of color contrasting the Camas.  Even its ferny foliage contrasts the long straps of the Camas leaves.  The flat tops are great landing pads for pollinators to gather their wits until they decide where in this smorgasbord to head next.

  • Western Buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis  garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis) is the royal relative of the common creeping weed that is the bain of Seekers-Of-The-Perfect-Lawn.  This tall cousin also has a long bloom, but is welcome in my garden anytime.

  • Pacific Sanicle , Gamble weed, Pacific blacksnakeroot,  Sanicula crassicaulis, bloom, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Pacific Sanicle (Sanicula crassicaulis) is a sturdy plant with palm-shaped leaves at its base & small pom-pom flowers on tall stems.   Its deep tap-root reaches moisture even when the summer drought kills off other plants.

  • Erythronium oregonum, white fawn lily, easter lily, Oregon Lily garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) blooms early, often with the first of the common Camas.  The white of the lily is a dramatic pop of contrast against the blue of the Camas.  By the time the taller Great Camas blooms, the fawn lily bloom is completed and it’s setting seed.

  • broad-leaved shooting star, Henderson's shooting star, mosquito bills, sailor caps bloom, Dodecatheon hendersonii, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii) are spectacular on their own with their delicate, cyclamen-like blooms.  They’re early bursts of color in rocky outcrops and path edges.  Once the taller Great Camas starts to bloom the Shooting Stars are easily overlooked.

  • Chocolate Lily, Chocolate Lily, checker lily, Fritillaria affinis  garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Chocolate Lily  (Fritillaria affinis) is much larger in stature (knee-high) but its color is so muted that it’s also easily overlooked among the blooming Camas.  Sightings are few & far between.  SM spotted a patch of them beneath a tree & pointed them out, otherwise I’d have walked past unknowing.  Perhaps there are more around than I realized… perhaps not.

  • Yellow Montane Violet , Viola praemorsa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Yellow Montane Violet (Viola praemorsa)  is the darling of the meadow.  When Colleen first started the restoration, she was over the moon to find this endangered plant surviving.  It’s red-listed in BC. Now, because of her attention, others have taken up the cause & also work at restoring populations.

Yellow Montane Violet , Viola praemorsa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This piece of land has gone through many changes since colonization.  I’m glad that it was protected from more intense development.  In the 50’s the park was ear-marked for an arboretum, but that didn’t go beyond the incredible planting of rhododendron that’ve made the park famous for decades.

Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinii garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I don’t think anyone really expected that those spring-blooming Rhododendrons would ever play second fiddle to this renewed native landscape.  Colonization meets nature in this lovely garden.

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