Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Back to Victoria, British Columbia: Beacon Hill Park in late summer

Winter is my least favorite season, and I constantly look for opportunities to get away--either physically or at least mentally. While I still have quite a few posts left to write about my recent Arizona trip, I decided today to head north instead of south: back to Victoria, British Columbia. In late August, my wife and I helped our oldest daughter get settled into her new life as a student at the University of Victoria

While daughter #1 was doing student things, my wife and I took the opportunity to explore more places in Victoria that we hadn't seen on our previous trips (1 | 2). This included Beacon Hill Park, a 200-acre urban park stretching from the Strait of Juan de Fuca almost all the way to downtown (here's a map). I didn't know what to expect, other than a large public park, but in hindsight I shouldn't have been surprised at the stunning displays of flowers for which Victoria is world-famous. I don't know how much the city spends on public landscaping, but it must be significantly higher than other cities its size since even the medians in streets far away from where tourists stray are full of beautifully maintained flower beds. I had fallen in love with Victoria on my first trip, and this love affair deepened even more on this, my third, visit.

While the climate of Victoria is fairly mild, it is isn't frost-free (this winter they had snow on several occasions), but there's an undeniable lushness. Daughter #1 definitely could have picked a far worse place to go to college!


We saw rock outcroppings like these in many places, especially in the eastern suburbs where we were staying


Beacon Hill Park is not a botanical garden so there are no plant labels. I was able to identify some plants but many were new to me. If you're able to provide plant identifications, please leave a comment.

My wife and I jokingly called Beacon Hill Park the poor man's Butchart Gardens

I have no idea how often they water, but the flowers looked perfect






Is this princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana)?





Look at that papyrus!



The largest ornamental tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) I've ever seen

One of many ornamental red bananas (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii')


And elephant ears (Colocasia sp.)!

Look at the people to get an idea of how tall these plants are


More Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'


Fuchsia folks, is this Fuchsia magellanica?


Those Ensete again! They photobombed quite a few of my images!




Massive cedar, possibly Western redcedar (Thuja plicata)

And a quirky weeping blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca pendula')

One of my favorite trees, the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). I saw several specimens in the park.



Cannas are attractive even without the flowers!

My favorite photo of the day: castor bean (Ricinus communis)

Who knows what this tree is?

Nature does weird things all on its own!

Far from home, but still beautiful (and yes, invasive in many places): Argentinian pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana)

What could be more relaxing than a picture of ducks under a weeping willow!

Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)
I wonder what Beacon Hill Park looks like right now, in the dead of winter? I have to send daughter #1 to reconnoiter. 

POSTSCRIPT: Reader Dan A. from Victoria shed some light on what happens to the sensitive plants in the winter: "There is actually a large greenhouse near Cook Street at the edge of the park where they store all the frost-tender standard plants and perennials."


RELATED POSTS:

Index: Victoria and Vancouver Island, BC, September 2016

27 comments:

  1. Nice shots of the bananas with the sun behind them.

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  2. All those colours are an antidote to winter weary eyes!

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  3. I'm posting again to you. Sigh. I love seeing all these masses of colorful flowers in borders. They make me happy. I'm gonna try to do part of mine that way. Thanks for the continuing inspiration of your photographs. Could we convince Victoria to host a Fling?

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    1. It's not a fling, but will still be a grand time!
      http://www.victoriahardyplantstudyweekend2017.org/

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    2. Oh, Loree, that sounds much, much
      better! Thanks

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    3. What a cool event that would be! The timing is wrong for me this year. But maybe next year. Daughter #1 will be in Victoria for another three years--and she may never leave!

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  4. "the poor man's Butchart Gardens"...ha! That seems about right. How lush, how summery!

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  5. Beautiful! Do you think that August is the best month to visit, or would earlier in the summer be better for blooms?

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    1. We were there in July a few years ago, and the blooms were perfect. I bet August would still be OK.

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    2. Starting in early Spring the bulbs in the thousands come out with the trees starting to flower. The show continues right until November so any time is good to go.

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  6. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed the picture of the peacock.

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  7. Welcome to our neck of the woods! When you pick her up in the Spring be sure to check out Finnerty Gardens, right on The UVic campus. Glorious rhododendron collection.
    https://dizzywithpossibilities.wordpress.com/

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    1. Jo-Anne, Finnerty Gardens is an under-the-radar gem! I was there last April at the peak of the rhododendron bloom. It was unforgettable: http://www.succulentsandmore.com/2016/04/most-beautiful-post-of-year-university.html

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    2. I see.. you WERE there! And definitely at the perfect time. But wait, Rhodos are exotic?? No, no....succulents are exotic!!! (All depends on what you're used to, eh?)

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    3. Jo-Anne, YES, rhododendrons are TOTALLY exotic to me. They won't grow here.

      I look forward to spending time on your blog. We spent a night in Nanaimo two years ago. I liked it a lot! I could totally see living on Vancouver Island.

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  8. I loved all those back-lit bananas and luxurious big leafed plants.

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    1. You and me both. That's why I took so many photos of them. I was amazed by how pristine most of these large leaves looked. They must not get a lot of wind--surprising so close to the ocean.

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  9. Yes, Tibouchina. My neighbor has a beautiful one. Needs quite a lot of water.

    The Ensete with the red-edges and the sunlight shining through--the leaves glow like stained glass.

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    1. Thanks for confirming the ID of the Tibouchina.

      Water doesn't seem to be a major issue in Victoria although several people were saying how dry the summer had been.

      I allow myself a few thirsty tropical plants. This year I *will* get one of those Ensete and irrigate it with gray water from the kitchen sink.

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  10. What a beautiful park!I was in Victoria last in 2003 and did not visit this park,so I enjoy seeing what I missed ! Your fuchsia looks very much like a standard of F. 'Scarlet Ribbons' which one used to be grown at the late great Antonellis in Watsonville.

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    1. What I want to know: What do they do with plants that are CLEARLY not hardy in Victoria? Do they dig them up and overwinter them in a greenhouse? Or do they start with a clean slate each spring? I'm determined to find out...

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    2. I bet that is exactly what they do.They may even be sunk into the ground in pots for easier removal. I see this done on the east coast frequently.

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    3. Reader Dan A. from Victoria shed some light on what happens to the sensitive plants in the winter: "There is actually a large greenhouse near Cook Street at the edge of the park where they store all the frost-tender standard plants and perennials."

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