Fall settles in at the Tofino Botanical Gardens
by Josie Osborne, Tofino
The flashiness of spring and the heat of summer have given way to the
more subtle smells and colours of fall at Tofino Botanical Gardens.
We've never been as quick at pruning and cleaning during the
fall as we probably should be. Instead, we enjoy seeing the full cycle
of a plant's life "above the ground". The giant Himalayan
lilies (cardiocrinum giganteum) have long since flowered, but their
swelling seed pods are almost as remarkable as the blooms that preceded
As the leaves fall from the Himalayan birches that line the entrance
to the Gardens, look for the curling white paper-like bark as well
as the yellow and red bark of the twig dogwoods near by. Fall is
also the time to look for cyclamens under the Japanese maples near
to the boardwalk, for the tiny fruits that the Japanese fibre bananas
produce, and to smell the gorgeously scented blooms of ornamental
gingers in the Tropical Garden.
This fall, we'll be further developing the new Chilean Garden,
the newly planted area behind the rainforest gazebo on the Frog Pond.
Naturalists and botanists have been fascinated with Chile for centuries.
The climate and terrain of southern Chile are very similar to that
of Clayoquot Sound, so many species native to Chile grow very well
Perhaps two of the most common plants of Chilean origin that can
be found growing in Tofino are fuchsias and Gunnera (Gunnera manicata
is the large ancient looking plant that is often called 'Giant
Rhubarb', 'Umbrella Plant, or 'Elephant Ear').
In fact, both fuchsias and gunnera seem to grow even larger here that
in their native habitat. Interestingly, the forests of Chile evolved
in a very different way. While our northern forests evolved as coniferous
ones, in Chile broadleaf evergreens became the dominant forest trees.
One such tree is the "alerce" (Fitzroya cupressoides),
which can live to 4000 years and looks somewhat like our Western Red
Cedar (Thuja plicata). Once forming huge, old-growth forests, the alerce
is now a protected species in Chile. Look for specimens of Fitzroya
cupressoides in the Chilean garden, though you may wish to come back
in 4000 years to truly appreciate its grandeur!
The Tofino Botanical Gardens are open throughout the fall from 9am
till dusk. For for more information, visit the gardens' website
Tofino Botanical Garden changes in the fall: Josie Osborne describes plants that are prominent in autumn, and upcoming activities at the gardens.