Those of you who have read this column over the years will know that my love of gardening has been passed on from my parents. You’ve read about Dad’s ammonia-producing compost bin, his first generation chipper/shredder (a hole cut into the deck of a lawn mower) and my cherished grandfather’s hoe that I inherited.
I’ve given my Mom most of the credit for my victory in the Grade 5 gardening contest as she made sure I kept it weeded and watered. And I love irises, peonies and Shasta daisies to this day because they were, and continue to be, Mom’s favourites.
Mom is also responsible for my appreciation of wildflowers, something that surfaces each time we go into the hills or along the KVR trail. The past two Mondays have found us biking or walking along the KVR, one of my favourite places, and I’ve been pondering the fact that what we do as parents can affect our children deeply in ways we can never anticipate.
We used to spend many Sundays when I was growing up fishing in the creeks that run into Okanagan Lake. We fished Trout, Darke, Deep and Trepanier creeks on a regular basis. In addition to pan-sized trout I also caught my Mom’s enthusiasm for the wildflowers that we saw along the access roads or near the creeks.
I learned to recognize several different flowers; Indian paintbrush, balsamroot, chocolate and tiger lily and the Saskatoon bush, at an early age as Mom pointed them out to us. My brothers and I would stop our nearly constant fighting to look up and nod, and then go back to torturing each other in the back seat of the car.
Why her lessons stuck with me and not my two younger siblings I don’t know, but the gift she passed on to me is precious. Each time I head out into the natural world I’m awed by the diversity of plant life. It’s like I see a fourth dimension of the world, unknown to anyone else.
The KVR trail is a treasure trove of botany, especially in the spring, and so accessible to everyone. My wife and I biked from Smethurst Road above Naramata to the Little Tunnel three weeks ago. We passed through rock cuts where Penstemon fruticosus was blooming, seemingly growing out of nothing but solid rock. Small mounds of Phlox longifolia nodded in the breeze. The electric blue blooms of the Upland Larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum could be seen from a distance as we rode. And, of course, the Balsamroot was in full bloom on the sunny slopes.
On the Victoria Day Monday we took a family drive out to Osprey Lake and walked along the trail on the far side of this beautiful lake. The vegetation was completely different. We saw the nodding blue blooms of Clematis columbiana as the stems wound their way through the Douglas Fir. Then, my habit of watching the sides of the trail paid off handsomely, as I spotted a drift of rose-purple blooms low to the ground. I walked up the slope to investigate and found myself among a patch of Fairyslipper Orchid, Calypso bulbosa.
Delicate and extraordinarily beautiful, even more so given the location where they were growing. I got down on my knees and snapped off several photos and then scampered back onto the trail.
While I was down on my knees I should have said a short prayer of thanks for the gift I inherited from Mom that once again surfaced to make that moment in my life a bit richer.

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