Sunday, May 27, 2012

Western trumpet

Lonicera ciliosa
A nice orangey-red honeysuckle from Colquitz river park.
Lonicera ciliosa is a deciduous vine that reaches 6 meters, inhabiting woods and thickets from sea level to mid elevations. Humming birds love it and apparently people like to drink the nectar as well. I always see it draped over snowberry bushes and ocean spray. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Plants from a city walk

Aquilegia formosa
Eschscholzia californica

Lupinus luteus (an introduced species, not native)

Lupinus polyphyllus
Crataegus douglasii

Friday, May 25, 2012

O brave new world

Today I was assigned my very own community garden plot at the Chambers st. community garden. I am beyond excited, especially since I had no idea I was on the waiting list....for a year. I think I emailed them but they never replied and they put my name on a list. Whatever the case, I now have 120 square feet of beautiful crawling compost bliss awaiting the hoards of seeds and plants I have collected.
It's so much easier to be patient when you have no idea that your waiting. I wish everything could be like that, exam results, ferries, birthday presents, tax returns. Instead of waiting for them, why not just forget about them entirely? If your ferry never came you would just say;
 "What am I doing sitting at this ferry dock?" and your friend would look at you and say
 "I can't remember. Great day though." 
"Beautiful day" You would reply, because Canadians love to talk about the weather almost as much as British people. 
 Enough cultural stereotyping though and on to more important things, Irises....and cats.

This is the Iris setosa 'nana' I picked up from Fraiser Thimble Farms about a month ago which occurs from Northwest BC to Alaska;

And this is an Iris I bought last year from the nursery I worked at, it was labeled Iris 'pacific hybrid X' . I have no idea what that means. I was hoping it was Iris douglasiana but I don't have the botanical know how to properly identify it. I am thinking of crossing it with the setosa. Is that even possible? We shall see.
 And this is an egregious pet picture of my cat. He likes to venture into the unknown world of the deck on sunny days. Also, he only has one eye. No, I did not poke the other out. He came from a hoarding house up island and it had to be removed due to infection. He looks good with my plants.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Elderflower Champagne

The other day I was in the library browsing the books about plants, I LOVE books about plants almost as much as plants, and I came across a book called "Wild Food" by Roger Phillips. Flipping the pages reading recipes and admiring glamor shots of  pickled sea asparagus I started to get a little inspired.

I have never been much for foraging. Don't get me wrong, I hunt chanterelles with the sprightly joy of a spasmodic wood pixie every fall, enjoy a few bowls of nettles in the spring, and have even made fiddle head fern pesto. Living off the land, the bounty of nature, I can't get enough of that stuff, but there's just something about foraging. It's like when you grow vegetables for the very first time, and stand there looking at them thinking, " but it grew out of the dirt, It came from the ground" with a little grimace on your face. Then you spend the rest of the summer trying to find 300 new delicious ways to eat the zucchini that you now have a plethora of and you get over it. But foraging food is different, it's just so primal. It feels unnatural to those of us who grew up thinking warm delicious meals come out of cardboard boxes. Hunting in the woods and using what you find for tinctures, tea, wine, and even dinner is magnificent, but the amount of gumption it takes to get pick the plant and actually make it into something can be hard to surmount. The extra little gumption I needed was living right around the corner. Spring ridge commons is a community permaculture garden in fernwood that encourages foraging and has all kinds of delicious plants, like elderflowers.

Roger Phillips can't be forgotten though, I may not make the majority of his recipes but his book is worth checking out if just for the photographs. He features native plants from the British isles prepared in lovely dishes, a few made from recipes dating back hundreds of years, sitting in the beautiful landscapes they were harvested from and along side huge chunks of roasted meats. Seriously, it is hilarious and amazingly brilliant at the same time and even though the plants are from Great Britain, similar substitutes can be found here in the PNW.

Like Elderflowers for example. Lacy white umbels from Sambucus nigra can be replaced with those of Sambucus cerulea or Sambucus racemosa, but all three are easy to find garden shrubs with such a floral profusion that no one will really notice a few gone.

Elderflower champange
loosely adapted from Roger Phillips recipe in "Wild Food"
You need:
A 1 gallon jug 
A fermenting bung and airlock
6 elderflower heads in full bloom with the pollen shaken off and the majority of the stem removed (Do not eat any other part of the plant except the berries if they are cooked, the leaves, twigs, branches, seeds, and roots contain a cyanide inducing glycoside. Look it up to better understand it.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 lemon
1 orange
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1. Place the flowers (with stems removed) in the jug with the juice and rind of the lemon and orange and the vinegar.
2. Dissolve the sugar in warm water and pour into the jug.
3. Fill the rest of the jug mostly full with water and cover with cheesecloth
4. Leave to steep for 4-6 days.
5. Put on the airlock and leave for another 4-6 days
6. Decant into screw top bottles

The longer you wait the more alcoholic it will be. This recipe is not really a wine though, more of a fizzy delicious beverage. Enjoy!
I added some chives in there because they were there and I couldn't help it.
Pottery by Gorden Hutchens from the Denman Island craft store
So beautiful!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More chocolate!

Frittilaria lanceolata (syn. affins)

Roaming Mt. Doug Part 1

 Mt. Doug was exactly where I wanted to be today. Hiking and plant hunting. Under the cedar/fir canopy at the base of the hill it was serene and quiet. All of the different leaf shapes of the Amlanchier, Symphoricarpus, Mahonia, and Polystichum made me remember that in a perfect garden (i.e. nature) sometimes all you need is foliage. Once the trail started to head upward everything turned into shady meadows under young garry oaks with camas and Achillea. I was on the south side and it was hot. Continuing up the ground got steeper and turned into rock faces with blooming Sedum and Eriophyllum, I almost thought I was in Central Oregon again hiking the high desert. When I reached the top, I skirted the look out and ended up heading down the East side, which was an excellent chance decision. I saw three Fritillaria, a batch of barely blooming Rosa nootka, and some Corallorhiza just coming up. Unfortunately my camera died after I reached the top (worst excuse ever), so I as soon as I have another day off, you know where I'll be.
Eriophyllum lanatum, also called Oregon sunshine (what a great plant name!)
Achillea millefolium. According to my lone pine guide,
 "Taxonomically this is one of the most complex species in our flora", cool?

Sedum spathulifolim.

Camassia leichtlinii, I think because the tepals are twisting.
Tiarella trifoliata.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Things you may find in beacon hill park on a sunny day...

  •  Garry oaks with hummingbirds sitting in them
  •  Fields of camas
  •  Erythronium seed pods
  •  Deadly white camas
  • Beautiful ocean and mountains views
  • A chocolate lily or two if your lucky
  • and a few naked old men sun tanning, which I especially didn't want to be seen stumbling upon with a camera in my hands (to be honest though, I'll suffer through the peripheral view of wrinkly old man scrotum for the site of a Fritillaria).
No naked people in this one, just camas and butter cups.
Fritillaria lanceolata
Moving in for the money shot.

Zygadenus venenosus with a ripening Camassia quamash
I heard this little guys call and was lucky to spot him in a Garry Oak.

How many crabs can you spot?

Someday I vow to take a marine biology coarse. All of the plants and animals I see in the ocean are so foreign its like some sort of crazy sci fi alien water world, So much so that every time I sit and watch a tidal zone I think "Mean while, in the ocean....". I wouldn't be surprised if there really were mermaids hiding somewhere out there in the great wide open with giant squid and singing schools of rainbow fish.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Orchids and Owls

A few lucky sitings at Whittys Lagoon....
Corallorhiza maculata ssp. maculata. So beautiful!
A spotted owl After consulting a freind who works with raptors, I learned this is actually a barred owl.
Trientalis latifolia

Whiteys Lagoon is a great place to go on an impromptu nature adventure, lots of great plants and birds, a lovely waterfall, and sandy beaches. Its only a 20 minute drive from Victoria, unless you go at rush hour and get stuck in the Colwood crawl, which is apparently 3pm on a Friday?!? 
 In edition to these we also saw blue herons and calypso orchids.

Quercus garryana
Potentilla anserina
Sedum spathifolium
I think this is a Salicornia
Sambucus racemosa

Friday, May 11, 2012

Native plants in containers

 Here are some Northwest natives that are blooming in my pots right now;

Linnaea borealis; a great evergreen ground cover that takes longer to establish then kiniknik, but looks much nicer in my opinion. The tiny little flowers are also scented!
Dodecatheon pulchellum 'sooke'; I love the color of the tip and the short little petals. This variety is endemic to Sooke.
Polystichum braunii; A semi evergreen fern that is one of the first to look lovely and lush during the season.

Thursday, May 10, 2012