Spring has sprung, and we’re at the beginning of the best three months for seeing native plant flowers. Most of the growth will take place during this short window when temperatures are warm and water is available. Now is a great time to highlight a few of the amazing plants native to Mayne Island, all of which will be available for sale at our Spring Native Plants Sale on Saturday April 6th from 10am-1pm.

Pacific ninebark

A perfect plant for slightly wetter sites at the edges of ponds and seasonal creeks, ninebark will grow happily in part shade, or full sun if it has enough water. For a species that prefers wetter soils, it is remarkably drought tolerant once established. The showy white flowers of this deciduous shrub make it a great addition to a native shrub planting. Species that like similar growing conditions include salmon berry, June plum, and red-osier dogwood.

Western tiger swallowtail butterfly sips nectar from a pacific ninebark flower. Photo taken by Andrew Reding.

June plum

Sometimes called osoberry, this species is one of the first to bloom in spring. The combination of brilliant green leaves and white flowers catch the eye of observers every spring. In places where this species is common, such as along the Pat Bay Highway, look for that distinctive colour combination in late March and early April. There are separate male plants and female plants, with the males producing more flowers, because the females must invest more resources per bloom. The single seeded fruit matures in June, and though technically edible, they are neither palatable to humans nor abundant; however, birds do love them. This species is happy growing in the shade and is less drought tolerant than other native shrubs such as snowberry, red-flowering currant, and oceanspray. This species is rare in the outer Gulf Islands, but there was a beautiful male plant in bloom along the pathway at Winter Cove, Saturna Island when I visited this year on March 23rd.

Maturing fruit of June plum on a female plant. Photo taken by Gabi Cuff.

Snowberry

This underrated species provides food and shelter for wildlife. Though its flowers are small, they bloom for a long period extending into September, making them a valuable source of nectar for hummingbirds and bumblebees. The dense thicket formed by their spreading rhizomes create ideal habitat for ground nesting songbirds, and make it an excellent choice for anyone seeking low-maintenance gardens. As one of the most drought tolerant native shrubs, it can be established in many places too dry for other species. Prior to increases in blacktail deer and the introduction of fallow deer, this species would have occurred in much higher abundance on Mayne Island.

The small flowers of the snowberry plant bloom into September, providing food for pollinators. Photo by Rob Underhill.

Want to Learn more?

Check out this article written last Autumn which features eight native species.


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