A week of glacier lilies

A departure from the usual posting style. Since I saw so many glacier lilies at the weekend, I figured it would be best to combine all those photographs into a single, all-encompassing glacier lily entry. Let the floral overload begin!

We spent the weekend in Manning Park, and found – to my delight – that the glacier lilies were out in force. Here’s one of many in bud we saw last Sunday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops. I was surprised to see them blooming even by the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak, and we were further surprised by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us!

It's that time of year again! The glacier lilies are out in force in Manning Park and should be good for another couple of weeks. Here's one of many in bud we saw yesterday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops (as was our tent!). After all the hard work we put in on Saturday to find some (which paid off handsomely I should add), I was surprised to see them blooming at the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak. Then we were surprised again by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us 🐻 🐻 🙂 Hike reports are on LiveTrails. What a weekend! #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #ManningPark #manningparkresort #ecmanningprovincialpark #bcparks #paintbrushnaturetrail #explorebc #wildflowers #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #ifttt #hikebc #bchiking

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On Saturday we hiked the Skyline I loop, a 21-km hike with 900+ m of elevation gain. We’d been happily enjoying the wealth of blooms along the trail, but then we entered the last big meadow before turning back towards the car. This might be the most spectacular glacier lily meadow I’ve seen so far! Wow!

A trail runs through it – the path through the vast meadow in the previous photo is barely a boot wide, the glacier lilies and spring beauty doing their best to recolonize it. I looked back at photos I took of this section of the trail in August 2007 and there is no sign of glacier lilies anywhere.

And yet more glacier lilies along the Skyline I trail. There was still a bit of snow in places along the ridge but it’ll soon be gone. I find it amazing how so many can grow and yet all signs of their existence disappear once the main summer bloom gets underway. I’m convinced that most hikers never even see a glacier lily over the summer.

Finally, it’s Flashback-Friday, and I thought I’d finish this week of glacier lily photos with the flower that started it all – my very first glacier lily photo from way back in 2006!

That last shot has a lot to answer for…

Not bluebells

Fields of camas – I was amazed to see so many around the park! Such a beautiful sight! I think I’ll be spending more time here next spring…

Recently I’ve been seeing lots of camas (and other wildflower) pictures from various Instagrammers and it’s been making me want to drop everything and head over to Vancouver Island (or one or more of the Southern Gulf Islands) to check out the spring wildflowers. Vancouver seems a little lacklustre in the spring wildflower department by comparison, and the only ones I make an effort to photograph are white fawn lilies and trillium.

I hadn’t even thought about looking for flowers at the time we arranged a trip over to Vancouver Island to visit some friends, but the sight of all those Instagram pictures had me suggesting we head into town for the afternoon. And I was really quite blown away by how extensive they were in Beacon Hill Park. I didn’t expect that at all, thinking that with it being a city park that it would be dominated by cultivated flowers and manicured grass. So it was a wonderful surprise to find the park has patches of unmanicured meadows and trees. And the camas was growing everywhere! I’ve never seen such a bloom. My first reaction was that I was seeing a field of bluebells, but I was delighted to find that it was a lovely spread of camas instead. They even look similar when first budding and I really had to look twice in a few places.

So my mind is made up: I think I need to make a spring pilgrimage to southern Vancouver Island every year now… 🙂

Star of the show

The star of the show, a white fawn lily in full bloom.

I’ve been itching to get back to Lighthouse Park to photograph the fawn lilies this year, especially as some of my Instagram friends have been posting lovely fawn lily photos of their own, but I’ve been waiting for a fine day as it’s no fun trying to get flower photos when it’s dull and light levels are low. Not that it was easy taking this photo as the flowers were constantly swaying in the breeze – I had to time my shots for when a flower stopped moving for that brief moment.

This was just a quick visit to the park really for me to be able to get at least one decent photo of this year’s bloom. Of course I can’t resist going back with a little more time to take a few more…

Signs of spring

Signs of spring – some cheery, curly witch-hazel blooms.

I love looking out for witch hazel blooms in January. They’re my primary indicator of spring, more so than the snowdrop and crocus bulbs planted in so many front gardens. When I worked at UBC, I’d walk past one particular tree on the way to the bus and enjoyed seeing the curly yellow extensions, a splash of bright colour in an otherwise grey winter. But I hadn’t seen any this winter so far, despite keeping my eyes open on my many walks around the neighbourhood. At least, I thought I was keeping my eyes open. As it turns out, I walked right past this tree several times, though in my defence it was usually dark and I was on the other side of the street. And yet somehow I hadn’t noticed the witch hazel in previous years either.

In any case, I was really pleased to find this tree and took a dozen or more photos to try and capture the cheer, hoping that the residents wouldn’t come out to ask why I was pointing my camera towards their home. And much as I like many of my earlier photos of yellow blooms against a blue sky, I love the depth of colour in this one.

I was surprised to find that I was decidedly not the first person to use the tag “witchhazelwednesday” on Instagram. Who knew that a few dozen others would decide on that tag? Fascinating 🙂

Rain flowers

Cheery western columbine on the trail to Cream Lake. The Haida call them rain flowers, a name preferred by some of our friends.

There are many flowers on the west coast of BC that could get the name “rain flower” but for some reason the Haida bestowed it on western columbine. This little patch was perhaps the richest and most vibrant meadow of columbine that we’ve ever seen, so naturally I couldn’t resist making it the foreground to the imposing Mt Septimus.

The King of Gentian

It’s waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I’m posting one of each from our Cape Scott trip. King or blue gentian lined the trail at most of the boggy sections, adding a splash of colour to an often uninviting landscape. The nice thing about these sections, though, was that they were brighter than the deep rainforest. Plus they smelled just like the New Forest where I grew up. Loved it!

Gentian is another one of those flowers that stops us in our tracks, much to the amusement (and bemusement) of our hiking friends. We’re not sure why, but it could be that it’s relatively rare (if locally abundant). There’s a spot near Vancouver where this blooms in late August (called Blue Gentian Lake for obvious reasons!) but it’s always nice to find it elsewhere. We found our first patch on the way in to San Josef Bay, and then more (much more!) in the peat bogs as we neared the northern coast. We saw so much that in the end even I walked past without stopping to take pictures. Eventually…!

In search of glacier lilies

This is why I like glacier lilies so much – when they bloom, they absolutely cover the meadow. I wrote about this in my first piece published on The Outbound – yay!

I’ve had an article at the back of my mind for some years now that explains a bit of my obsession with glacier lilies. I hadn’t found a way to write it before now, until The Outbound Collective advertised a new story-telling feature that prompted me to sign up for an account. After that, I just started writing and before long I had emptied my head of some of the things I’ve been wanting to say about glacier lilies. A bit of editing here and there, and one click on “Publish” later, and it was done.

So here it is, In Search of Glacier Lilies.