My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!

Teachers come in many forms .. I am finding . .as I make my way along the path to understanding more about native plants in the Pacific Northwest!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Busy life lately …lots going on .. including my boot camp activities 3 times a week.  Funny .. me .. who dislikes organized, planned group activities .. I don’t know what I would do with out my boot camp buddies!  Three times a week we meet at various locations throughout Victoria.   And out we go, brisk walks, hikes, mat exercises.   I’m always learning new beautiful areas in our city, always see the most lovely dogs and sometimes, as seen below, local wild life!  This was last Wednesday, it was raining.  I was lost,  trying to find the meeting location  … following my GPS and missed a street, so, upon correcting my route .. I came across this young deer.  Walking very stiffly .. and slowly .. I stopped my car to watch and take a photo.

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Just a short momentary pause and then we went our separate ways.   The deer looked at me … and when he/she realized that I was not going to block the road …continued on.  I found my boot camp location and soon we were on our way.

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I want to share my passion about native plants.  Many (too many) years ago I became interested in native plantings.  As I was spending more time outdoors in the countryside and mountainous areas, and I accumulated some illustrated books on native plants, flowers etc. of the Pacific Northwest.  These books stayed, unread, on a book shelf for years.   From time to time I would open them, flip through the pages and put them back on the shelf.  They almost made it to a donations box at various times, but, something kept me from getting rid of them.   I was curious as to what part of me was wanting to hold on to them.

Well .. here is one of the reasons!  I had joined the Saanich Salvaging group, had attended the orientation and received my official paperwork.  When I hadn’t heard anything for a year, I was ready to recycle my papers .. then, I received an official e-mail stating that there was a salvaging opportunity.  I was there.

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Here is the area that was able to be salvaged .. the first time I went there, it was on a rainy Saturday.   The photo was sad (the sky was crying) so I took another photo on a not so cloudy day.

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Sad as I was that this portion of forest was destroyed to make way for construction of a building ..I realized the heaven-sent opportunity to salvage plants.   I met some very wonderful people and have been learning all sorts of wonderful information & identification of native plants.  Here, a fellow-salvager had just dug up a flowering Fawn Lily.  This is impressive, as they take about 6 years to reach the flowering stage.  Lovely.

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And so I carefully dug up some Fawn Lilies, and placed them in some magnificent, rich forest soil .. with moss to protect.  Now I must admit, I feel a bit like I’ve fallen through into a topsy-turvy world, a little like Alice in Wonderland.  I have never taken forest soil, moss or native plants from the forest … but I must do my best to save as much as I can before the construction begins.   I feel as if I am honouring this lost forest by taking what am I able to .. home to grow.

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I was even able to find 2 small licorice ferns, besides this larger type).    Lots of Mahonia aqualifolium (Oregon grape).  I am learning the Latin names of these plants as well as the common name. Practice, practice and more practice until the names become as familiar as my own.  I’ve started keeping track of my new plant friends and carry a little hardbound book in my purse for this purpose.

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And this little beauty, I’ve learned, is Sanicula arctopoides:  so I have saved quite a number of these and plan to save more!  What beautiful yellow flowers they will have.14

I’ve gone salvaging about 4 times now .. this photo is from yesterday afternoon, just a few more plants and that lovely moss.  It is really quite a lot of hard work .. doing salvaging.  First gathering up containers, with tools, driving out to the site.   23

Dragging containers onto the land .. searching around for the plants, carefully digging them up and filling the containers.   I spend easily at least 2 to 3 hours at a time.  Then the reverse, slowly moving the filled containers back to the car and loading them into a tarp-lined interior.  Once home, emptying the car and the slow trek to the back yard.  Where planting or potting up begins.  But well worth the effort, knowing that I have saved some plants, giving them the chance to grow again.  For birds to enjoy the fruits and nestle in their branches (where they exist!)

See the tips of the leaves of the Fawn Lilies?   I must go back again a few more times.  You can certainly understand why.

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Ok, this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything gardening!  I was on my way home, stopped at a traffic light and just happened to glance at the car beside me!  Couldn’t resist!  🙂

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Back at the salvage site, I had unloaded my containers and hadn’t noticed I had disturbed this lovely snake, which had been sunning on a nearby rock.

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Here is the second thing that fully awoke my native plant senses. It was a very tiny little article in our neighbourhood paper last week .. out of all the ads on two pages which I had quickly glanced at .. it just caught my attention right away.  So, I clipped it … left it on my desk .. and finally, a few days ago, I called the Volunteer Office and was give the contact telephone number for the Garry Oak Restoration Project, BC Parks!  The Native Plant area is at Fort Rodd Hill: http://www.fortroddhill.com/

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I went to the Fort Rodd Hill site yesterday morning, after Boot Camp.   And I fell in love.  Look at this field of Fawn Lilies (and other plants that I need to learn the names of!)

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Such peaceful beauty.  And, see the grassy field in this photo?

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Well, 2 years ago (actually about 1 1/2 years ..) the current native plant  area was exactly like that grassy area.  Except this area (and more besides) was covered with layers of cardboard, tons of leaf mulch .. and now … is heaven on earth.  Here is the nursery where the bulbs and seeds are grown into plants.   As soon as I saw this, I felt at home.  It is a much grander version of my back yard.  You can see why I fell in love.

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Be still my heart ….all these native plants growing in peace …in rich soil with tons of fat earthworms crawling about, transforming leaves and plant bits into yet more rich soil.

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This is a flat of Collinsia parviflora (small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary).  It attracts native bees and is a larval food plant for the “critically imperilled Taylor’s checkerspot (Euphydryes editha taylori) in B.C.   www.npsbc.ca/pdf/Collinsia_parviflora_web.pdf

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My first job was to remove the plugs from their growing trays and place them into plant flats, in preparation for planting.   All of these plants were grown from seed gathered last year and planted into these plugs.  I love this.  This is my kind of gardening.   I am going to learn so much from Morgan and Nathan who are in charge of this program!!

Oh, I meant to tell you before I go on.   Everyone I have met on my path to understanding the world of native plants has been kind, patient, gentle, knowledgeable, sharing and so very interesting.  This continued as I joined the Garry Oak Ecosystems group at Fort Rodd Hill.  They made me feel right at home and soon I was learning away.  Here, Nathan is showing me where to look for the tiny flowers of the Blue-eyed Mary.

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Soon, I had filled my tray with the plant plugs and was sent to an area to plant these flowers.   To say that I was privileged and happy to be a part of this process would be an under-statement.  Plus I am excited about the hands-on learning in the process of gathering/growing/planting these native plants.   Morgan is in charge of the Volunteering at Fort Rodd Hill and the energy that she and Nathan give to this project is amazing.   Oh, I am so very happy.  And the other volunteers are amazing.

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So there have been a number of “teachers” entering my life during the past few weeks and I have been learning something from each of them.  I am grateful and excited to enter again a world I had left behind.   I am connecting with a part of me from a long time ago that was intensely interested in these native plants .. and I am profoundly grateful and quite content for the re-connection taking place.

At one point yesterday, while I was planting some Claytonia perfoliata (Miner’s lettuce)  http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/miners_lettuce.html”>http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/miners_lettuce.html</a> when it dawned on me how very fortunate I was.  The yin was that I was salvaging native plants from a site that was going to be built upon and the yang was that here I was, planting more native plants in an area which would never be destroyed.  I felt such joy and humbled to be part of the process.

Oh, happy days!  This life is good.

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Author: thedogwalkinggardener

I love dogs and currently do not have any, so I am a dog-mommy when I can be. Gardening is my passion. I've always loved birds and I'm learning a bit at a time from all the Birders that I meet. Swan Lake is my second home! .

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