I know, I know – another vignette. I promise there’s a hike report coming soon!
A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at Camosun Bog, a tiny remnant bog ecosystem on the edge of Pacific Spirit Park, to capture the bog laurel (kalmia) in bloom, having seen some photos on Twitter. The laurel was at or near its peak bloom and the bog was ablaze with the intense pink of the tiny flowers, easily the most extensive and wonderful display I’ve ever seen. What amazed me in particular, was that the shrubs were growing nearly a metre tall in this environment whereas we’re used to seeing it as a tiny ground-hugging alpine plant.
Fast forward to today and we spent a peaceful hour or so down by the beach watching the tide come in, the herons fishing and flying along the water line, the crows and seagulls picking up and dropping mussels onto the rocks, and terns plunging into the sea to catch fish. Instead of heading straight home, we decided on a whim to take a detour and call in to Camosun Bog, to check on the kalmia again as I wanted to show Maria. We managed to get parked about as close as is possible and I hobbled along the boardwalk (long, uninteresting story) into the centre of the bog while Maria walked ahead. As we turned the corner, we first noticed all the false lily-of-the-valley (which I later abbreviated to “FLOV”, much like our FGOP shorthand for fringed grass-of-Parnassus), with its little stems of white flowers poking up above the leaves.
Further in we could see that the kalmia was mostly past its peak with many of the bushes having dropped their flowers, carpeting the moss with little pink umbrellas (or radar dishes – I still think like a radio astronomer sometimes). A few late stragglers were doing their best to put on a good show. Between the kalmia, the pale buds of Labrador tea showed the promise of their bloom to come, with a handful already bursting out into bunches of small white flowers.
Bunchberry then caught my eye – a lady in a passing group was wondering what they were and seemed most grateful to me blurting out the word as soon as I saw them – and then, to my delight, I spotted several northern (or Arctic) starflower in bloom. Within a minute of being here, I was already very glad I’d gritted my teeth to walk the 50 m on tender feet. Now I started to look more closely at the mossy ground and we soon identified some patches of round-leaved sundew. Yay!
We reached the centre of the bog and sat back on the railing to soak up the warm – nay, hot – afternoon sunshine. Having got an inventory of what was growing I now pulled out the camera to start my documenting. Where to start? Labrador tea, then sundew, then follow an Anna’s hummingbird as it flitted around a pine tree (no point trying to photograph it), then back to the plants – pond lily leaves, then more sundew, more Labrador tea, before starting to retrace our steps (very slowly!) to capture the bunchberry, northern starflower, and FLOV. Blueberries and salmonberries were beginning to show up, one salmonberry in particular starting to take on some colour as it ripened, and the white teardrop flowers of salal also caught our eye as we walked back to the car.
We were only there for a little over half an hour, but that short time was a perfect interlude to top up my nature fix before the working week, and it was such a tonic to see so many of my favourite plants showing their faces to the sun. Without doubt, Camosun bog is a wonderful place to stop off and check out a few rare and unusual plants. Highly recommended!