Spring is here! For the last few weeks native wildflowers have been popping up out in the hills and valleys all over my Southern Vancouver Island home. Some of these flowers are only found here on Vancouver Island, but many of them will start to make themselves known in all sorts of BC areas over the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look at some of the “early bloomers”
Satinflowers (Olsynium douglasii)
These lovely flowers are one of the earliest to show themselves on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This year I found a group of them growing in a secluded spot in Beacon Hill Park on Jan 26th! That is early!
The biggest and best Satinflower shows are reserved for the hills — in Victoria we can count on Mt. Wells, Mt. McDonald, and Little Mt. Doug for an exciting show. These plants carpet the hillsides and look for all the world like tiny satin ribbons bobbing in the wind.
Satinflowers bloom between Feb and into April and can be seen on Southern Vancouver Island in the Sooke Hills. They love Garry Oak meadow environments. One of the best spots to see them is Mt. Wells, a park in the Victoria area. A very rare variety of Satinflower can be also be found in the sagebrush area around Kamloops, but they bloom a bit later in the season.
Spring Gold (Lomatium utriculatum)
This lovely little member of the carrot family starts to bloom in February — usually about the same time as Satinflowers, if not a bit earlier. Its lacy leaves do indeed look a bit carrot-like, but a moment spent looking up-close at the golden, flat-topped flowers will reveal a world of complexity. This particular flower blooms on Southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, but many different species of Lomatium bloom throughout the spring and summer in BC.
This image was taken on March 4 in Mill Hill Regional Park, Victoria BC. Well worth a wander throughout the entire Spring season.
Rusty-haired and Western Saxifrage (Saxifraga rufidula, Saxifraga occidentalis)
These Saxifrages are another group of “early risers” with both Rusty-haired and Western showing themselves in February and March on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Western has a much bigger range than Rusty and can be found pretty much throughout BC (with the exception of the far north east) – again, blooming later into the Spring and early Summer.
This is another wildflower that begs a closer inspection — the detail, when you take the time to look, is amazing — petals, tiny grains of pollen, slender filaments holding things together — and all with a purpose. Saxifrage means “Rock Breaker”. This seems such a tough moniker for such delicate little plants, but if you see a flower hanging off a rocky height, or growing in a place with little soil, you are probably looking at one of these beauties. They thrive in surprising places.
These images were taken on Southern Vancouver Island in the Sooke Hills Sea to Sea Green Blue Belt. More photos can be found on my flickr page. Check out E-Flora for more info on the Rusty-haired and Western Saxifrages.