Category Archives: attracting birds

Indian Plum – A Winter Joy

It’s not really a pretty shrub, but still, I’d like a thicket of Indian Plum in our border.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s specifically because of the leaf buds & blossoms in February.  They calm my cabin fever & help me through the last several weeks of winter.  Against the grey skies, the leaves look so perky & hopeful … and determined.  Even the inconsequential greenish-white flowers are exciting when little else is happening.

Indian plum grows happily in Partial Shade, not needing the prime Full Sun real estate that I protect for really showy plantings.  It’s common across the coastal Pacific Northwest below  Vancouver Island.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

When we lived on Cedar Hill, there was a large suckering thicket behind our house, at the base of the rocky slope.  The robins nested in the multiple stems of the 12-15 ft tall thicket.  The shrubs did their thing in the understory before the gary oaks hogged most of the sunshine through summer.

Perhaps best known as Indian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis, is sometimes called June Plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum and Bird Cherry.

Oemleria cerasiformis, Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It might sound like a promising fruit source, but those inconsequential flowers turn into inconsequential fruits.  I’ve heard the berries shift through a pretty orange kaleidoscope before maturing into a dark purple-black, but I can’t say I’ve noticed.  The shrub blends into the background as other plants compete for attention in later spring.

Oemleria cerasiformis, aka Indian Plum, June plum, Osoberry, Oregon Plum, Indian Peach, or Bird Cherry, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I did check out the un-inticing tiny black plums once.
Bitter.
With pits.
Perhaps it’s best to consider it wildlife forage.

The early flowers feed hungry resident Anna’s hummingbirds e and signal that the Rufus will soon be returning from warmer climes.  The leaves & fruit provide forage for birds, deer & other mammals.  Isn’t it just good Karma to host a thicket?

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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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Changing Attitudes About Yarrow

yarrow, Achillea millefolium
photo by SVSeekins

As a kid I thought wild yarrow was a boring flower.  Its helicopter-landing-pad  flowers might be interesting to butterflies & other pollinators, but I couldn’t get past the bland white petals.

Little did I know, but there are varieties beyond our native wildflower.   Just a block or so away from our current garden, a neighbour grows a striking stand of yellow yarrow (probably Achillea ‘moonshine’ in a very sunny, & dry border.

yarrow achilea moonshine garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now that I care for my own garden, I can appreciate a plant that rarely needs water or attention.

It rocks that our local deer left it alone when I added it to our landscape.

It was an additional bonus that, after cutting back the flowering stems in autumn, a ferny mound of foliage remained evergreen.

yarrow achillea millefolium pomegranate garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

More recently I saw a red-flowering yarrow (likely Achillea pomegranate).  I’m not sure why I’d assumed our native yarrow was the only variety, but I’m delighted it isn’t.

yarrow achillea millefolium pomegranate garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There’s a place for this one in our garden, too. Even though the West Coast is a rain forest, very little of that rain falls in July or August.  Tough ornamentals are treasures.

It’s good to note that if regularly irrigated, yarrow is a vigorous spreader.  The easiest way to keep it in a manageable clump is to reduce irrigation.  Easy-peasy.  I can do that  🙂

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