This year……we did not go to Mexico and it was the worst winter on the record…. it was brutal and spring just did not  want to come. I do not know how we survived it…..but we did but some of mine more tender plants did not. In early April very few plants were blooming. Some shrubs tinged green but no flowers .  Some shrubs were beaten up and deformed by the heavy snow. It caught me by surprise and I had no opportunity to protect them.

2 shrubs that herald the spring here on the Island and are blooming usually in early March were blooming in the first part of April.

A native shrub  Oemleria cerasiformis  also known as Osoberry or Indian plum. 

This picture of Osoberry was taken on April 4th and the flower is not completely opened but the picture shows the shape of the leaf nicely.They are quite happy in the endless rains. It will grow in deepest shade and at difficult sites. I noticed only one on the property and it almost looks like it was planted there by human, not birds. I noticed it after we moved in but never knew what it was and it looked somewhat insignificant so I did not bother to explore it further. Only couple of years ago it sparked my interest when I started to clear many ferns in that area.


Native  Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant) blooming in early April. We have both varieties, red and white. The red one is growing wild but the white was planted on edge of the forest by one of the previous residents and it’s now a sizable bush.

 Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’


Mahonia aquifolium  (Oregon grape ) is another native plant  that is blooming in early April. l It is an understory of our Douglas-fir forests. I consider it invasive on in our environment . The inner bark of stems and roots of Oregon-grap eare used by aboriginal people for yellow dye; the berries give purple dye.

Deer path through Mahonia aquifolium under the Douglas Firs and Big leaf Maples

Violas grow in the grass in middle of April

Primroses look at their best in April also and bloom for long time. I love these cheerful little plants in early spring  . They grow wild everywhere in many colours (probably cross pollinated).

The more cultivated ones I grow in my flower beds as this  Primula vulgaris Belarina Pink Ice


Hellebores did not mind the snow and cool temperatures. Thre is a local craze about them but I have only 3. Although they are somewhat pretty they never exited me. I should love them as the deer and rabbits don’t.. Maybe in the future I could thin my colchicums and plant few more hellebores. They starting to introduce new hybrids and some are little bit more interesting than my old ones. Especially the leaves. Colchicums have also large leaves (not pretty) and smother everything else in the border…..but comes fall and they are stars in the garden when all the other plants are gone.

I do not have name for this Hellebores.

Hellebores Merlin starts this pink and fades to beige and then to almost green.. It is a smaller plant which is not noticeable from this picture.

Winter Daphne also blooms in early April and in addition, it smells heavenly.

Rhododendron Christmas Cheers is blooming since February. 2 little plants are blooming by the guest house.

These are my few early March to early April bloomers) Other plants are starting to wake up in the middle of April and explode by May. Lots around here was planted for May show and this property is at its best at that time.


This is the last time I saw her. It was March 26th. She lived with us all winter. She slept behind the shop and basically stayed in sight most of the time. I think she felt safe here . We have no dogs to chase her and I mostly ignored her. We almost became friends even though I knew that she will be a problem comes spring. I also think that she was born on this property and felt that this was her home.She did not look entirely healthy and because of the snow there was very little to eat. Unfortunately,  she was in some plants which are poisonous if eaten in larger quantities…..such as rhododendrons . Some of my rhododendrons were stripped. Hopefully she found a friend and left with him. I think of her often. So far I did not see any deer damage.


Rhubarb cheesecake . We have lots of healthy rhubarb this year.

Robins are back, building their nests and destroying our grass areas.

Such is life


This is the first winter we are staying on the Island in a decade (or more) and WOW look at the snow on December 10th.

Where is the ocean and the Island on the other side of the channel?

I have to admit I found it so pretty.  It looks quiet and so serene.


Little hummingbird was caught by surprise too and  I am sure that that this shivering little bird (pictured below) does not agree with me.

Somehow a tiny hummingbird does not fit in this Christmas snowy scene any more than a Macaw.

This is “Anna’s” hummingbird. The other hummingbirds we have around in Summer such as Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned have enough sense to leave for Mexico and the Gulf Coast by late summer. I read it is only past few decades that they stay around. In the past the most northern sighting were in San Francisco area.  People feed them (we have many feeders around for them) and there is plenty of “winter gardens” blooming( Mahonia, Sarcococca , Witch hazel, Winter Daphne ,Viburnum bodnatense, Heathers, Hellebores, Primroses ….just to name few). Some of these these provide their food supply during the winter.


 My OH who tries to keep the driveway clear is not impressed either..


Deer is looking for food too. The laurel hedge is munched on every winter but interestingly only in that spot. It is not touched anywhere else



This amount of snow is rare anomaly here. Last big snow like this was on  November 21st  2010 just a day we were leaving for Mexico. The roads were mess all the way down to California.

This snow stayed on till middle of February . It was very cold for few months and I have not been around the garden much.

This is a little rhododendron Nova Zembla I planted in the summer and it obviously does not like the cold either.


These next few pictures are from February 7th. Looks like winter on the prairie. Lots of snow. It seems unbelievable.


Just a white vacuum behind the trees.


We have an 42 annual flower count in Victoria starting March 5th every year and this is a write up from the organizers on their webpage:

” Count is an annual light-hearted promotion sponsored and organized by The Butchart Gardens and Tourism Victoria. …… It brings national and international attention to the fact that Victoria (City of Gardens) has the mildest climate in Canada. While the rest of Canada and much of the US is still in the cold clutches of winter weather, Victoria often enjoys spring temperatures of 10-15° Celsius (up to 60° Fahrenheit).”

oops… well they say “often”.

The winter snow storm was vicious. Tons of trees  and  branches broke off under the load of heavy snow

The mossed up maple is our neighbours . I do not like these trees go but it will provide me with more light.


Our damaged hot tub cover and deck rails


 Obstacles thrown in our way


There is lots of clean up awaiting after the snow melts.

In mid February came the rain snow is disappearing and early spring flowers started to poke up.

Welcomed sight


Spring is coming.





October is very colourful month at our place on the Island. Although, most of my planting was aimed for spring splash, fall colour is very vivid due to many big leaf maples which mingle with big conifers such as Western Red Cedars, Douglas firs and Western Hemlocks.



Lovely fall colours in front of the yard with Viburnum mariesii turning red (on the left) and Japanese maple in bottom right corner of the picture.. The dark red tree in the background is a flowering plum with big leaf maple behind it . The lollipop shaped tree by the fountain is a pink Camellia .


Peaceful and misty fall morning.


For me the fall starts in late September when colchicums ( fall crocuses) star to bloom.


Potentilla pink paradise is a new plant this year…hoping to add more colour in late summer.

potentilla pink paradise

I did not record names of these heathers but they are the fall blooming variety and lovingly fuzzy.


In late October all dahlias are starting to look pathetic and it is time to pull them out of ground. That is one chore I am not looking forward to.

My new dahlia this year AC Dark Horse. Sometimes I have to wonder about the plant names. It would be interesting to know why it was named “Dark horse”


I am always impressed by the fluffy plumes of a pampas grasses.


Over past few years I’ve collected several Japanese maples but this Acer dissectum  Crimson Queen was inherited. It is getting quite big and starting to block our pathway. I would hate to have it destroyed by a bad hair cut. It is still OK for a year or two as is . It turns fiery orange later on. 

The maple in the pot in the background is Acer Osakazuki. It was a first maple I purchased and it lives in the pot ever since. It has best red fall colour of them all.


Gentle colours of Acer “Butterfly”. Excellent tree to brighten  darker spots.


Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ (Mexican orange) was  planted last year and it is brilliant chartreuse colour all year round. I am very happy about the purchase.


Yellow colours of Acer Villa Toranto will turn much more orange in November. It holds its leaves much longer than my other maples. The red colour above belongs to Nadina domestica.


Not too far from Acer Villa Toranto  is this red leafed Japanese Maple–( Acer palmatumAtropurpureum )  It is Red all year round but the redness intensify in the fall


Detail .


Delicately cut foliage of acer Inaba Shidare has very bright red fall colour I keep this maple in tub as I still need to find the perfect location for it. Its leaves burned in full sun last summer.

Japanese maples are a must-have for any foliage-loving gardener.


Fall colour of Cotinus (Smoke tree) which has stunning dark red-purple foliage in spring and summer . They are mostly grown for their large, plume-like panicles (after the flowers are gone)


Bold colour of Nerines Bowdenii in October. They belong to the Amaryllidaceae family.  The flowers appear on naked stems before the leaves develop therefore the common name Naked Ladies. They usually bloom till November for me.


Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Rotfuchs’ (Katsura Red fox). This is the most interesting tree for leaf coloration. The leaves emerge dark red in spring and hold their colour until middle of summer when  they’ll change to interesting dark bluish green. In October they start to turn orange/yellow .

This picture was taken October 23 rd.


October is also month to preserve some of the fruit  from our trees. I planted  crab apple tree for wildlife to enjoy in winter but it has so much fruit that I decided to steel some.


And the result…..good for another year. These pretty hand painted glasses came from a friend.



Late October is also a month when local  “fisheries” are open for salmon fishing and the commercial boats move to our bay in droves and stay for weeks (sad to say) This picture is taken from our deck.


Because we have not stayed on the Island in winter in past many years it will be an adventure to find out what it actually feels like. Good bye October.



Looking at  pictures from previous years our spring was warmer this year and all  plants were at least 2 weeks ahead of their regular schedule.

This pink inherited rhododendron heralds the end of the spring and beginning of the summer for me. It starts to bloom end of the May and ends full bloom in the middle of June. It is interesting hybrid as it will re- bloom here and there all summer and occasionally even in the fall. I tried to search the interenet for a match and closest I could come up with was Rhododendron ‘Mrs Horace Fogg’ or her child Brianna.

pink rhodo

Very “blousy” flowers and the “Lordei Group” look.

large pink rhododendron1

My new rhododendron Karin is definitely in the same family


As Usual rhododendrons were fallowed by peonies, poppies ireses, lilacs . I added few more peonies but they did not  bloom this year.


But the star this spring was Magnolia Elizabeth.  I do not have it for long time but it is already substantial and lovely tree.


Detail if the flowers



Magnolia Susan looked especially lovely this spring and the fragrance filled the yard every evening.



magnolia susan-close-up

Another nice tree I planted couple of years ago is Japanese maple Jordan. Unfortunately, it seems that it cannot take the sun its getting and its leaves completely burned at end of the summer. I really like it in the spot it is in but will have to dig it out and replant in more shady area. Only few  of my Japanese Maples can take full sun. Most can’t.


Comes May and June and the garden comes alive. Whisteria blooming by the entrance door


Delightful flowers of Indian hawthorn “Majestic beauty”  (Rhaphiolepis  indica).indian-hawthorn3


Bright colour of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’ ) brightens the otherwise green corner. April colour:


July colour


And this is September colour


Looking up hill from an area I call Sun Valley this is a mish-mash of plants. Some planted by me, some inherited and some just growing wild. One of the favorite spots I love to sit in the summer.



and later in the summer


I am realizing more and more that I cannot plant a large variety of plants that our climate here would allow me. Wild life is just too numerous. And that goes not only for flowers (perennial or annual) but also for my fruit trees, berries, grapes and produce. Everything is eaten before it is ready for us humans. Between deer, bears, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, numerous birds there is nothing left for us. Even wasp get into small fruits and berries.  Interestingly, I have planted an crab-apple (red sentinel) just for wildlife and no one is interested in it.

It looks lovely in spring, just loaded with pink blooms which will fully open to white.


and in fall these little red apples are like jewels shining against the sky.


My sad story at the end of the summer.

We have many deer browsing around and through our property. I learned to accept them.

One very young fawn was around all the time and appeared to be very friendly.


 I did not see any adult deer walking with her and she was into everything. I noticed that even some very toxic plants were munched on. I speculated that for some reason her mother abounded her. Poor thing looked sick and worse with every day passing. 


We offered her an apple and she accepted.


Then I did not see her for some time. She died.  My OH found her dead in the forest but did not tell me. So I did not know for some time. He waited for me to get out for part of the day that he could bury her without me being around. Then he told me. It was a sad day.

RIP in peace little one.







Few trees around here had to be trimmed as they were hazard or too close to our deck and very messy.
Big tall Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) was first. Two very professional loggers came to do the job. One was a young British fellow who moved here 5 years ago and from his experience this tree is about 100 years old and 130-140 feet tall. Just a baby by the local standards…he said


There are 2 kinds of Douglas Firs (technically not a fir). Costal and Rocky mountain, they differentiate by their habitats, growth rates, and physical characteristics.
I read somewhere that coast Douglas-firs frequently exceed over 500 years in age and occasionally over 1,000! They commonly grow up to 250 feet . The Rocky Mountain Douglas-Fir grows up to 160 feet and is much more cold tolerant than the costal one. The British Fellow was telling us that he was recently involved in falling one of the 250 feet tall Douglas fir and being 250 feet up in a tree was “awesome”. He really must love his job 🙂 We have few bigger trees than the one shown in this picture on the property.

Here comes the first branch:

first branch

And more branches to followtrimming fir

can you spot the logger in the tree?


They make it look so easy and effortless


The Arbutus was a little bit of challenge with their crooked trunks and branches


They had to cut this in pieces not to damage our deck. Arbutus wood is very dense and heavy. The branch is tied on one end and the second end is carried off the deck while the rope is slowly released.logger3

My OH helped with hauling the branches and was rewarded for it by backache later.houling branches

These industrial chippers are amazing . Guys can throw in a whole medium size tree and it will suck it in like nothing. No need to force it in. It only took few minutes to chip the pile.


One of the branches had what they called tear drop. A branch split and re-grew together again in a different location. Plants have clever ways to heal themselves.
I should have kept it for inspiration.

tear drop

The rusty looking tree is Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana “Pembury Blue”. It is not blue because it is dead. They were actually 2 trees side by side which have been toppled at one point. The guys from the tree service are removing the top part and leaving the bottom for me to grow climbers.

dead trees

Much easier task then the previous 2, I suspect.easy task

These people are very acrobatic and fearless:


Almost done. He is cutting the top and then down to the level of the 3 ends on the right side. We will put some bird houses at the top. I’d like to attract swallows again. We had some( long time ago) and then they’ve disappeared. They are great for mosquitos control. It also opened the sky to the northwest so maybe I will see some nice sunset colours.

almost gone

On the right are tree trunk stumps where few birdhouses will go. The tree which is being cut has two more stumps and will be cut to the same level as the first tree.


Job is done and there is even little bit of firewood for our neighbour.


Clean up begins……now

Lets come to explore Klahanie’s garden today . Maybe we will find something there for us:


This property is prettiest in April-May. Lots of plants were planted for May blooming in mind. Peonies Rhododendrons, irises, poppies all blooming in May and all are not favoured by local deer or rabbits. I found out earlier this spring that rabbit likes my young garlic plants,  my goldenrod,  my red yarrow ( Achillea millefolium ‘Red Velvet’ ) and surprisingly my Japanese grass Hakonechloa. All gone. When did they develop the taste for these? These plants have been safe in my garden for years.

Peonies and Irises are classics, never go out of style :

There are several inherited irises around but not all of them bloom every year. Lots of yellows and pale blues but also other kinds like this Brownish purple which I think is called “Indian chief”

indian chief1


I did not buy any of my irises but relocated some to different locations and they’ve multiplied.

The sky blue iris above is  “Jane Phillips” . Someone suggested the name to me because of its fairly strong scent.


Lots of yellow bearded Irises germanica  dot the property. I have no names for them and looking around internet for match but it would be only a speculation .They are very tall and have to be staked.

yellow iris

There are dozens of this blue iris ( probably ‘Lent A. Williamson’…..but only a speculation)

iris blue with orange beard

Uknown and mystic in the evening sun


One of my favourite is Siberian blue iris

siberian iris


There is a very pretty  field of them.

blue iris

Pretty white irises sibirica “White swirl” which are much shorter in statue than their blue cousins.

Iris sibirica 'White Swirl'

I assume that  all my inherited plants were planted by the original owner (the previous owners were not gardeners) and being in the garden for 40 years.

I was never a big fan of irises and I have never purchased one but I am starting to appreciate them more and more. I did not care for them because they do not last that long and most of them have to be supported which is a big job with so many around. But….. the flowers themselves are beautiful and most importantly deer and rabbit will leave them alone so maybe next spring I will look for some more interesting modern hybrids.


Now, peonies are different story. I love them. I did buy several new to add to existing bunches. I find them difficult to start and establish.

There are 3 inherited red peonies named ‘Red charm’ which are gorgeous and bloom very early. For 12 years we live here they have only two or 3 flowers each. 

red peony

In contrast with Roselette which have dozens of flowers each year. There are 2 bushes of these.002a


This plant usually does not have to be supported but when the rain comes and they are in full bloom they will fall to the ground and they will end up in the vase:

peony in the vase

White Peony “Festiva Maxima” was also inherited and now I have 3 plants. This is very tall peony and has to be supported.

Picture of White Peony “Festiva Maxima”white peonis2


peony festiva maxima


8 clumps of peonies were inherited and I added few in the mixture.

Paeonia (Peony) lactiflora ‘Dr. Alex Fleming’ named after Sir Alexander Fleming Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist

This peony has double blossoms which are very fragrant . Flowers are extremely showy.

alexander flaming


Peony” Bowl of Beauty” very popular and interesting

It is single-petal peony but one of the most  dramatic type.  It blooms for almost a month. None of the other ones do.

The peony “Bowl of beauty” has red seedpods and they look almost as nice as some if the other flowering perennials in the flower bed.

bowl of beauty

Seed pods of Peony “Bowl of Beauty”

bowl of beauty

Peony Sarah Bernardt is also very popular and easily available in Garden centers. Ruffled flower heads are fragrant. Good cut flower. Won Award of Garden Merit.  Named after the actress Sarah Bernard .

pink peony and friend

 Coral sunset

This is my favorite peony so far. Starts with dark salmon colour and fades to almost beige. This peony does not last for long time in flower. It is in my garden for 2 years now. Needs more time to get establish.

coral sunset

I also added 3 Japanese tree peonies which bloom ahead of the herbaceous peonies.

Koukamon , also known as ”Floral Gate”
Deep maroon blooms, almost black toward the center

tree peony

Hoki, little lighter in colour and nicer flower form in my opinion.


and hybrid suffruticosa, Tree Peony ‘Renkaku’ (aka Flight of Cranes)

white tree peony

I wanted to add more tree peonies but they do not bloom for very long. at  least not in our garden.

I am sure that with time I will add more peonies to my collection as they are very showy in the spring and their leaves are fresh looking all summer.

Peonies, Irises and Poppies are blooming at the same time

red popies


I am watching you. Hope you grow lots of roses this year. (Says deer)

deer is watching

Well, I got a new coat recently, it is  darker and prettier.



On our return from Mexico I was so happy to see my early bloomers in full flower.

We cut our stay 2 weeks just for that reason alone. In early stage of our beginnings here  I planted mainly for early spring show. The winters on the Island are not harsh and hardly go below  minus 2-3 degrees Celsius but the skies are gray most of the time and it rains a lot. It is very uplifting to see early blooms.

Camellia japonica ‘Herme’ . It blooms heavily each year and very early. It also have a little bit of smell. It is positioned right at our entrance so it has to be trimmed every year.

As I see it from the doorway


Closer detail


Individual flower:camellia flower

Interesting phenomena of this tree is that some flowers turn very dark pink, some almost white but the majority are as this picture depict. 

I decided to plant more camellias and have chosen the “Elsie Jury” from grower in Australia and red Kramer’s Supreme raised by August Kramer of Kramer Bros. Nurseries, Upland, California, USA.

Both of these are still very small plants. I only planted them couple of years ago.

I think that is all for now for my camellias .


The most visible tree on our property in early spring is the very tall Ornamental  Flowering Plum tree . It has single pink flowers, has dark red foliage in summer and produces fruits but only sporadically. I did not see it blooming last spring. When we arrived from Mexico in early April it was in leaf. This specific tree is about 50 years old and I understand that they do not live very long. Maybe for me to find a spot for a new  one. But not this year

plum tree

Beginning of early spring clean-up

clean up

and what a mess all over the place.


Forsythia looks very pretty against the dark green leaves of Portuguese laurel.


We have several good size shrubs and it is a welcomed sight every spring.


Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)

I planted one because it has a nice scent , because it is a evergreen, because it blooms early and most importantly because deer leaves it alone. Pleasure to see and smell in early spring.


Spirea “bridal wreath”. It is too large for that spot and I will have to find another spot for it. I had no idea how big it gets. I usually see them in a clumps not bigger than 2-3 feet

Spirea bridal wreath

Ribes sanguineum ‘white icicle’ lacing the edge of the forest


Pink leaves of Pireis Japonica just shine in the sun. .The new colourful growth will mature to green. The flower buds develop in late autumn. Wonderful shrub for our climate.  I have 3 mature plants and  planted another one under an old rhododendron. The plant is poisonous if consumed by people or animals.

fading leaves

Magnolia Susan

This large shrub or small tree is part of The Girls Series of magnolias (sometimes called the Little Girl Series),
‘Susan’ is a hybrid between Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’ and M. liliflora ‘Nigra’.

magnolia Susan

Hellebores buried in the fall crocus leaves. Planted by previous owners and for longest time I did not know that they even existed. Popular plant but I am not a big fan. Maybe because they are so shy and keep their heads down and I cannot see their beauty. 


Lovely cream coloured Primula Balarina


There are many wild growing common primroses (Primula vulgaris) of various colours scattered around the property. This is one in my Rhubarb patch in March


Rhubarb is doing well and almost in bloom.


Primula Belarina Pink Ice, one of my favorite.

pink bellarina

Native woodland plant  “Coast Toothwort” (Cardamine) growing happily in out woods


Trillium growing wild and I see some here and there but it is a favorite food for deer.


Have not seen my friend lately – young black tail male deer . Although I do see some munched plants around.  My motion activated sprinkles are set ….so watch out my friend!