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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Plant Research In Southern BC

It was winter all the way until we drove down the hill, south of Cache Creek, then it was if we had gone directly from winter into late spring.
There were native, white flowered saskatoon berry shrubs (Amelanchier alnifolia), and yellow daisy like flowering plants (Balsamorhiza sagittata) growing in the hedgerows on the side of the highway.

Saskatoon berries are hardy into zone 2. Domestic varieties with bigger berries are available but transplanting native species into your garden, like I did when I lived on the farm, is easy and cheaper. I have happy memories of picking saskatoon berries with my young family. Saskatoon berries taste great made into jam or added to pancakes and cakes.

Balsamorhiza sagittata has similar flowers to the many species of Arnica, native to northern BC.
Although unlike Arnica Balsamorhiza sagittata grows in dry sandy soil and its leaves are bigger, silvery coloured on the underside and covered in fine hairs.

Every yard, along the highway, seemed to have a yellow Forsythia, growing like a beacon of sunshine  in their garden. I love these shrubs. I finally got one for my garden, now I live in zone 3, it's the outside limit Forsythia will survive.

Most Wineries in the Okanagan don't open until 10:00 AM or even as late as 11:00 AM. To kill time we went for a hike in the hills behind the town of Oliver.
Other hikers, animals and cyclists had carved out a twisting maze of steep trails that wound up and over the hilly back country.
I was ecstatic when I discovered the first patch of cactus, (Opuntia fragilis). However, it wasn't long until the fleshy pads detached themselves from the plants embedding their long spines into our shoes, the hems of our pants and our ankles. It was a painful moment until we managed to pull them off. I collected some of the bigger pads, wrapping them in a handkerchief, to bring home for my garden succulent collection.

I already have an Opuntia fragilis plant, I purchased from a nursery, if only I had known it was so easy to get it from the wild, growing in my garden. It's hardy into zone 2.
I'm looking forward to seeing its yellow flowers, like the ones on these plants. I didn't know it flowered either.

At first glance I thought this familiar looking plant was a lily, something like Erythronium revolutum. After coming home and looking it up I realized its leaves were wrong and so was the habitat where it was growing. Eventually the knowledge in my brain sifted to the surface and in a lightbulb moment I thought of the shooting star (Dodecatheon) that I used to grow in my zone 2 garden on the farm.

Further research confirmed it was indeed Dodecatheon pulchellum.

Amazingly the grape vines had not yet started to grow.

First flower in my garden April 24 2014 It was depressing to come home to my still mostly snow filled garden.

Except, there was this lone, beautiful, tiny snow crocus blooming on a south facing slope where the snow had melted.


  1. Having grown up in the Okanagan and also having lived in Kamloops for 5 years, I am very familiar with the cacti! If you don't pull them off just right, you may end up with a spine embedded in your finger for months. I have several times! But I've never managed to see them in bloom. Somehow I always miss it, but others have told me it is beautiful!

  2. Ouch, I'm hoping the Opuntia in my garden will flower :)

  3. How beautiful! The vineyard there above that blue, blue sea - I bet that's some good wine.

  4. That blue blue sea is actually Lake Okanagon :) Those vineyards are on the Naramata bench and yes the wine is awesome!


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