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:

 

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Top 5 Deer Resistant, Late Spring Bulbs

The deer in our neighborhood of Victoria ( Mt. Tolmie’s black-tailed deer) have shown no interest in these spring blooming bulbs.

An added bonus is that picks # 1, 3 & 4 (and the bonus pick) have proven themselves drought tolerant through our long dry summers (even 100 days without rain).

1- Dutch Iris (Iris hollandica) starts to emerge from dormancy in early autumn.  It’s nice to see their green sprouts through winter.  The blooms fulfill the promise in May.

 Dutch Iris, Iris hollandica, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 22 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone 5

special notes
-Like Reticulated Iris, Dutch Iris is a bulb.  Other iris have rhizomes or regular-looking root systems.  So far, all that I’ve grown have been deer tolerant.

2- Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) joins the spring celebrations in April & May.

Leucojum, summer snowflake, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 14 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 5

special notes
-Leucojum is fairly new to me, but it’s delightful to find another spring flower the deer leave alone.  It reminds me of a snowdrop on steroids & blooms much later in the season.

3- Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii ) is a bulb I anticipate all spring.  It finally blooms in late May early June.

Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinii along Uplands Park path, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 36 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone  4

special notes
– Great Camas grow happily in full sun as well as along edges, so it suits my garden. Camassia quamash, the Common Camas, must have full sun.  It doesn’t survive in my beds & borders.
– see also

4- Yellow Onion (Allium Moly Luteum) bloom in June after most of the spring show is waning.

Allium Moly Luteum, golden garlic, yellow onion, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 10 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full sun – Part Shade
  • zone 3

special note
– Allium smell like an onion (so the deer leave them alone) but this is a decorative flower rather than one intended for the grill.
–  The most spectacular Allium are the giant purple balls, but they slowly disappeared from my beds. Moly Luteum  is steadfast, handles shade and drought, and grows easily in our garden — therefore it’s my fave.

5- Calla or Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) appears around town as early as May, but the variety in our garden blooms in June.

Zantedeschia aethioica, calla or arum lily , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 36 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 8

special notes
–  This particular white Zantedeschia (not a true lily) is hardy to our area, but any of the colored varieties have never survived more than one winter outside in our garden.  Dad & Jane, in zone 3,  winter theirs inside the heated garage.
– Visually, I look at the underground part of the Zantedeschia, and it seems more rhizome-like than bulb-ish, BUT I’ve seen it classified as a bulb on some websites…  and it’s often sold at the same time as the spring-blooming bulbs… AND I like it… so it’s staying on this list.  🙂

Special Pick

 Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica & Hyacinthoides non-scripta) carpet gardens & parkland in May.

Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 14 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 4

special notes
-There is SO MUCH controversy about bluebells locally & in Europe.  They’re incredibly determined growers. Once in a garden it’s nearly impossible to be without them. (I once discarded a bunch in the compost & covered them with on 3 feet of garden waste – – they bloomed the next spring!)  I’ve heard claims that bluebells choke out our native Camas. I’ve also heard  warnings that the bluebell bulb contains toxins that kill off the competition — but I haven’t been able to verify that.  (Help me if you can.)
Either way, because Camas is a food source & bluebell isn’t I prefer Camas.
I have so many bluebells in my yard that my procedure is to enjoy the blooms until they show sign of wilt, then quickly pull flowers & foliage – – harsh, but that hasn’t reduced their abundance in any of the beds.
– aka: Scilla campanulataScilla hispanica and Endymion hispanicus.

To be honest, I’m almost exhausted after the spring bloom wraps up.  There’s so much excitement over the past few months.  Now instead of tending garden, my mind turns toward camping.  Fortunately, aside from tidying up after the ephemeral bulbs have died back, there’s little else to do with them – – except remember where they’re sleeping.  I don’t want to disturb them when I get the urge to planting something more.

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Satin Flower

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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garden variety life

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