It’s been frigid cold here in Victoria this past week. Temperatures dropped as low as -10 and a light sprinkling of icy snow coated the city. In the mornings my garden features a series of tropical plant ice sculptures. The two echiums up front have curled up and croaked. A few succulents that didn’t make the cut in the migration met an untimely fate. Mild to some it’s still bloody cold I tend to think these winter months are best celebrated closer to the equator.
On Sunday we took a quick stroll around Government House to see how the plants were fairing.
“Summer Time and the living’s easy”
What a beautiful weekend we had here in Victoria; perhaps summer has finally arrived. Gardens are still lush, but thirsty indeed. From greenhouse to garden I live with a hose in hand. I have yet to neglect my duties this season and the garden has rewarded me absolute lushness, ever vigilant do I stand.
Today my girlfriend and I took a stroll about Government House Gardens and what it a treat it was. The sun was shining and the wind wisped gently, shadows danced creating the perfect lighting for a great photo shoot. Government House is my favorite garden in Victoria, it’s location is perfect and it’s botanical obscurity high. Open from sunrise to sunset Government House is free to the public and a great place to relax and forget about life’s woes. Rolling gardens that surround the main building eventually turn into paths of mixed garden on a lichen covered rock face. After a walk through some of the most exciting exotic gardens in Victoria one can continue their journey to the bottom of the property to check out their preserved Gary Oak ecosystem. The gardener’s involved in this project have a real flair for horticulture. Their attention to detail is refreshingly immaculate; the diversity of the garden lends well to much exploring. It’s worth a visit at any time of the year; surprises are in store for those who pay attention and visit often. A perfect place for a coffee & stroll.
Ok.. now onto the photos. So many colorful flowers.
I personally don’t care for oriental poppies in my garden, but here they look ablaze and incredible. Papaver ‘Allegro’ back lite by the nodding sun.
Spotted an Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean Glory Vine) growing as happy as can be. Incredibly hardy here in Victoria if placed in the right location, a light mulch in winter and they spring to life post haste. I was excited to see this one doing so well.
A close up for identification purposes. Eccremocarpus scaber
One of my favorite plantings at Government House. An Eryngium agavifolium & Beschorneria sp. (False Yucca) thrive on this exposed rockface looking out at the sea. Lucky plants get the best view in town.
Eryngium agavifolium blooms
South African Watsonia.
I was happy to see the echium pininana are still doing well.
All but this scarlet one of course. Having had a crop of nearly 100 last season I can say with certaintity this one isn’t going to make it this season.
Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy) in it’s full glorious splendor.
Always excited to see Agaves planted out here in Victoria. What a thrill, live on the wild side. Agave parryi is known to be one of the toughest agaves suited for northern gardens. Depending on the cultivar many are adapted to the wet conditions found out here on the west coast. This one has a couple battle scars from last winter.
Eremurus (Fox Tail Lilies) remind me of fireworks. I really should get a timelapse on these some day, if you sped things up this would almost flicker like a sparkler. Incredible.
It’s no wonder why Dierama’s common name is fishing rod plant. Watch it dance in the wind, bobbing like a lure.
A couple ID’s needed pls. This is some cultivar of thistle mithinks.
Gold Star opportunity to show off your plant knowledge.
An impressive colony of delosperma nubigenum hanging down a rockface.
Although all Delosperma originate from Africa most and many are hardy in northern gardens. Provided they have sun and good drainage they’re an easy plant to grow and thrive on neglect. Easily propagated by cutting they come in a wide array of colors and habit. Flowers range from pink to sunset. They’re a fun plant to collect and rarely aggrivated the busy scheduled gardener. Can you say easy? Yes please!
What’s that I spotted among this exotic border?
A kin from my crop of Sonchus canariensis. I’m excited to see what it looks like at the end of the summer.
What a wonderful day.
P.S for those who are interested…
Please stop on by for the 6th Annual PLANT HOARDERS plant sale, in the cook st village.
A large variety of hardy & tropical perennials, old standbys and rare and exotic. Seed grown Tree Echiums (echium pininana), large specimen burgmansias, gunnera and other way cool plants. Not your average plant sale, well worth coming out rain or shine. LETS HOPE FOR SUN. Located a cook/fairfield (442 COOK), exceptional quality with fair prices. Indulge the inner plant geek and come down for some really great plants. Need gardening advice? Let me recommend something perfect for your garden.
It’s been a long hard week at the greenhouse and the truth is I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This is such a beautiful time of year to be working at the nursery. Fields of flowering cyclamen and primroses a plenty. My bosses took a small week-long hiatus and left me in control of their operation. While it wasn’t always easy I enjoyed the opportunity to play a bigger role in the business. It’s satisfying managing people and finding the right job for the right person. I’m always amazed what a good attitude will bring to the workplace, I drink a couple extra coffees and keep things positive. Sure I didn’t end up getting a long weekend like everyone else, but everything went smoothly and in that I’m satisfied. The experience gave me a better perspective on what it’s like to run a business of this size. I now understand why my boss has trouble sleeping during the busy season. Making sure every plant is watered, pest free and shipped when it’s in it’s perfect state is not for the faint of heart. It’s easy to judge your employers actions this way or that but take a moment in their shoes and you’ll see it’s a lot of work being on top. Managing staff, talking up clients and making the BIG DECISIONS can take a lot out of you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but “the boss” is suppose to make it look like he has none. To keep people focused, to set a good example, and to put out the inevitable “house fires” that occur. On Monday they’ll have returned and I’ll go back to my humble life as the resident plant geek and order puller.
In other plant based news, have you stepped outside lately? Sure it’s been an average of 5-8 degrees Celsius lately but it’s stinking beautiful out there. Cold yes, lifeless not. All around you things are slowly springing to life, bulbs are setting buds and snowdrops are in mass. It’s truly a magical time of year. Sometimes I pretend I love summer the most but really there nothing better then the transition from winter to spring. If you had never visited my garden in the summer and looked at it now you’d barely recognize it. It’s like moving day or something, everything’s packed up and mostly hidden. From here on out starts the slow (but surprisingly fast) process of unpacking and expanding. My love of plants does not so much lie in their stationary aesthetic but the way they’re constantly changing, growing and impressing.
I worked 6 days at the nursery this week and you’d think that would be enough. Today we went to a couple plant stores, a stroll in the gardens at Government House and then some home gardening until it got dark. I was feeling a bit burnt out last autumn but I’m back in full force. I just can’t get enough of this stuff and feel very fortunate to have found something that makes me this happy.
Forget the Prozac, get in the garden. Spring has sprung at Government House.
Until next time…
All I’ve got to say is WOW.
A couple of days ago I decided to go for a walk at Government House to see what was in bloom. While the usual winter grimness was prevalent there was still a lot of things to see. Spent hygrangea blooms clung to naked branches, a larch in the corner loomed bear. Cyclamen leaves were tucked this way and that and the trees above were loaded with the most vibrant scarlet berries. A cotoneaster perhaps? I strolled on.
Just before leaving I turned around to look at the entrance of Government House when I noticed an explosion of yellow and lush green foliage. Mahonia x media, in full bloom, resembling slow motion fireworks. What a sight!
This intentional/accident hybrid, is a cross mix between M. lomariifolia and M. japonica. While M. lomariifolia is relatively tender, japonica is hardy well below -15 and passed it toughness onto it’s offspring. Here in Victoria it’s fool proof hardy and in time grows to staggering sizes. As seen in the photo above, Mahonia x media can grow upwards to 15ft once established.
Mahonia x media starts flowering late November and keeps going well into January. After the blooms are spent the bush is covered in interesting blue/grey berries then in spring sends out a red flush of new foliage. The foliage of course being equally as attractive as the blooms, is holly like but larger. As a potted specimen growth will be a tad slower, but the plant thrives non the less. Depending on how it’s looking mine gets moved throughout the garden and seems to enjoy sun to part shade. Overall not a fussy plant being quite drought tolerent and almost fully pest resistant. Minus it’s soft spring flush of leaves, Mahonia is prickly enough to discourage deer as well.
Fresh foliage underway May 2011
While I tend to avoid a lot of shrubs due to size restrictions, Mahonia x media proves to cooperate even if you have limited space. Pot bound you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by it’s spring growth. All hesitation aside, if you get the chance to grow this plant don’t think twice. Hands down the most beautiful plant outside right now and it does most of the work for you. Best bought on impulse in October/November just starting to bud, a late buy for it’s foliage alone will suffice.
True hybrid propagation done through cuttings, mahonia can also grow from seed but with some variation.
It was worth a trip to Government House after-all, and if you haven’t been there before, take a stroll today. It’s free, and quickly becoming my most favorite public garden in Victoria. Incredible.
Keeping with the theme of this weekend, I decided to burn off a Chinese food hangover and go for a walk around Government House gardens. It’s a beautiful property to roam when you find yourself with a little extra time to kill. Unlike Buchart gardens or Abakazi, Government House doesn’t request an entrance fee which makes it a favorite for a quick garden blitz. It’s amazing how much has popped up in the last month and a half. The gardens are waking up and rubbing their sore tired eyes, there is certainly a good reason to go out and wonder. Spring bulbs, primulas, hellebores and even the odd rhododendron are saying hello to the new year. I’m so excited for spring!
More hellebores looking amazing.
These hellebores have just started to open. “Wake up Mr hellebore”.
Did a grown man just write that, I’am shocked and ashamed. I digress.
Troves of galanthus snowdrops, I love seeing established plantings of these.
Did i mention snowdrops… “Where!?” “I can’t see them”
You know spring has sprung when Primula Denticulata is flaunting it’s stuff.
What looks like a planting of euphorbia blackbird.
Another spring favorite, winter aconite grows in small clusters like patches of gold nuggets.
Something you tend to forget about in summer is how beautiful and wild gary oaks look without their leaves. Much like a fractal, their branches resemble the form of lightning and are worthy of much awe and wonder.
This concludes my tour of the Government House gardens in February. The grounds were well maintained and dare I say meticulous for this time of year. This month can sometimes be underrated for gardening. Truth be told there was definetly enough to see to keep this plant geek entertained. Perhaps this time of year doesn’t have the size and extravagance of June or July, but it is noteworthy in it’s own way. Visit Government House gardens as soon as you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed.
1401 Rockland Avenue
Victoria, BC V8S 1V9