Sunday, 29 April 2012

Vanishing Beauty: Victoria's Garry Oak Meadows

This is a subject that I hold near and dear.  There is a certain magic to Garry Oak ecosystems that cannot be explained - it has to be experienced.  My stomach turns when I think of the continual pressure these fragile ecosystems face.  I spent the better part of the morning immersed in one of Canada's rarest habitats and would like to show you what we stand to lose if these areas continue to degrade.

This post is largely a pictorial journey with the odd caption here and there.  I would love to present this with eloquence, but this topic gets me ranting and my mind flows in many directions.  Please check out the links I supply at the end as that presents the information in a nicely organized fashion and saves me from digging up all the facts.

Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana)


One of my favourite sights in April is the blue-and-gold carpet formed by camas and buttercups.  If you are from Victoria and don't know what I'm talking about, take a stroll through Uplands Park.

A Few Common Plants

Common Camas (Camassia quamash)
Pretty Shooting-star (Dodecantheon pulchellum)

Menzies' Larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)

Threatened Species

Poverty Clover (Trifolium depauperatum)

Poverty Clover (Trifolium depauperatum)

Coast Microseris (Microseris bigelovii)

Bearded Owl-Clover (Triphysaria versicolor)

Erect Pygmyweed (Crassula connata)

Erect Pygmyweed (Crassula connata)

Macoun's Meadowfoam (Limnanthes macounii)

Macoun's Meadowfoam (Limnanthes macounii)

Water-plantain Buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius)

Water-plantain Buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius)

Invasive Plants

This shot illustrates the magnitude of the invasive plant issue plaguing Garry Oak meadows

This is a pile of English Ivy (Hedera helix) removed from a patch of young Garry Oaks

That whole pile only removed a small section and English Ivy still remains in the understory

Here is an example of an oak choked out by ivy

More Information
If you find this entry interesting and would like to learn more about Garry Oak ecosystems, here is a link to an "Ecosystems in British Columbia at Risk" fact sheet put out by the provincial government:
The Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team, a non-profit organization, also has a wealth of information on their website, including ways you can help out with the recovery of Garry Oak habitats.  Check out their site here:
Hopefully their efforts aren't in vain and we can work to restore and manage Garry Oak ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

The majority of these photos were taken over a two hour period along the Victoria waterfront, so I am barely even skimming the surface.  Next time you're taking a walk in a park with oaks, look around and realize the aesthetic value of your surroundings.  We are fortunate to live in a biologically diverse region and we take for granted all that this entails.  When I think of what makes Victoria such a great place to live, my train of thought isn't "We have a Wal-mart, a Futureshop, several malls, Silver City..." and so on.  I am always grateful to live next to the ocean, to have so many amazing parks for trekking around in, and to have a network of people who care about these things as well.  The bottom line is not to take these things for granted.  We all can and should do more to preserve what we have and restore what we had.


  1. Jeremy, were these images taken at the Matson Conservation Area along the Victoria harbour?

    1. Hi Wendy,

      These were actually taken over by Cattle Point. I haven't heard about the Matson Conservation Area, but am familiar with the area over on the Esquimalt waterfront. I'll have to check it out!