By Lesley Marian Neilson
Each spring for the past decade the Nature Conservancy of Canada has invited the public to explore the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve at the height of the wildflower bloom. Camas, lilies, shooting star and other native wildflowers burst forth beneath the craggy Garry oaks to turn the meadows into a vision that would have inspired Monet.
This year we celebrate the tenth annual In Bloom Wildflower Festival on Saturday, April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve is normally closed to the public, so In Bloom is a rare opportunity to explore the preserve and experience its many natural and cultural wonders. Visitors of all ages can wander through the meadows while learning from informational displays, storytellers and hands-on discovery stations that bring to life the world of our iconic Garry oak ecosystems.
In Bloom is a family-friendly event that features activities and discoveries for everyone:
- Enjoy a nature walk through the preserve’s wildflower meadows at the height of the spring bloom.
- Peruse the native plant nursery and even take home some seedlings to plant in your own yard.
- Listen to traditional stories from Cowichan elder.
- Discover the Bring Back the Bluebird Project that is reintroducing western bluebirds to Vancouver Island.
- Learn about the Elkington family that settled this land in the 1800s and who tended the Garry oak meadows for over 100 years.
- Explore the newly-restored Quamichan wetlands where the preserve meets the lake.
- Have your face-painted, make some nature art and take a hayride!
New this year will be 30 minute presentations by three guest speakers, on everything from mushroom hunting to native plant gardening to the secret lives of bluebirds. Presentations will take place at 11, 12 and 1 o’clock. Schedule will be posted at www.natureconservancy.ca/bc by April 15th.
Whether you are interested in birds and bees, splashy wildflowers, scientific research, native plants or wetland bugs, In Bloom will have something for everyone. Children’s programming includes hayrides, face-painting and nature crafts.