The Darling Buds Pt 2
thumbnail The very first flowers of Spring -- in early February! are the snowdrops. They're coming up (as the name suggests) even while the snow's still melting off. Hopeful and persistent, they pop up while we're still tromping around in heavy boots and many layers of warm stuff.

thumbnail Unassuming, humble little downturned blossoms...

thumbnail ... are, from a bug's eye view, actually rather fetching with their neat little green markings.

thumbnail Nanaimo's city plantings are heavy on bulbs. After the snowdrops, the next domesticated flower to show in quantity is crocus: they're planted in masses in various boxes and beds in public places, such as this memorial park dedicated to early immigrant Chinese labourers (who were, as was the custom at the time, cheated and worked to death in Nanaimo's coal mines). Interestingly (from a personal POV) my partner Jon helped to build the stone walls in this park over 30 years ago, as a young man desperate for work, but that's a whole 'nother story.

thumbnail I'll take a host of purple crocuses (croci?) over a host of golden daffodils any day.

thumbnail And they even come in colours other than purple :-)

thumbnail Lavish plantings like this are seen all over the city centre.

thumbnail Right after crocuses come the daffs and pansies; outside the Yacht Club, the overblown crocuses are torn up ruthlessly and masses of pansies are planted to replace them.

thumbnail Elsewhere along the waterfront and around the city, daffs put on a show that lasts several weeks starting in early April.

thumbnail Not all daffs are created equal -- there are some startling varieties here and there.

thumbnail Also in early April, the Erica (heather) blooms like mad. It should be buzzing with bees, but this year (due to a late Spring or CCD or for whatever reason) I saw only bumbles, and damn few of those. The Spring was late and cold; there was a chill in the air despite the cheerful floral display.

thumbnail I think this is some kind of azalea or maybe magnolia; it blooms at about the same time as magnolias (early April this year). There are several smallish shrub/trees of this species along the waterfront and I enjoy their untidy and enthusiastic blossom. A few bigger ones can be found in back yards and parks.

thumbnail Also in early April -- this year everything happened at once, as many plants were held back by the long cold winter -- the grape hyacinths pop up all over suburban yards. I love grape hyacinths; they make me smile for some reason. Their blue tint is deep, saturated, heavenly; and if you get down on all fours and sniff carefully you can catch their very sweet smell. (Oddly, freesias (my favourite flower for scent) don't seem popular around here. I don't think I've seen any at all.)

thumbnail Mellow Yellow: couldn't resist this composition of yellow dandelions, forsythia, and matching house paint on Estevan Road.

thumbnail A dense strip of grape hyacinths by a white wall -- hard to beat.

thumbnail Pansies at the Yacht Club, prisoners in concrete.

thumbnail Daffs in concrete tubs on a godforsaken median strip on the coast highway.

thumbnail The city plants a profusion of bulbs in the tourist-trap waterfront area...

thumbnail ... sometimes achieving pleasant arboretum-like effects...

thumbnail ... and sometimes just crayon-drawing blotches of single colours.

thumbnail These two-tone daffs are very popular with the City gardeners.

thumbnail The Bastion (historical tourist attraction) with planter boxes.

thumbnail Along someone's stone wall on Stewart Ave I found these (unknown to me) small, bright blue/purple flowers.

thumbnail They make a pleasant contrast to dandelions and fresh green grass.

thumbnail Forsythia in full glory in Jon's back yard, with various bulbs.

thumbnail The grape hyacinths have reached their peak in mid-April; the back yard is sprinkled with them and we cannot bear to cut the grass until they are over.

thumbnail The city plants bright and cheerful blooms in the boxes lining Swy-a-lana Lagoon park.

thumbnail They do look nice against the cold blue water of early Spring.

thumbnail Lilac blooms in early May and keeps blooming for three weeks or so; its heavy perfume drifts on the air in the evening, a promise of summer on the way.

thumbnail The Yacht Club pansies are at their peak in late May, which catches us up to the present. There's not much more to come now but roses (soon); some persistent plants will bloom all summer but the big, flashy, exuberant displays of Spring are almost over. Wisteria (which I wish I'd taken some photos of, but I was busy and it happened very fast) is starting to fade; laburnum is still blooming; there are some California poppies as well as the papery "Armistice Day" kind... but the colour of the town is now mostly green rather than the wonderful Impressionist kaleidoscope effects of the last couple of months.