It’s spring here in Victoria – at least on some days it feels almost like spring for a few hours. So I had to go up to Summit Park, the “flower-top mountain,” to check on the wild flowers that had bravely opened a few weeks ago, before the snowstorm. I was expecting a carpet of white and purple and yellow blossoms. What I found was not really a carpet, but a few patches of white and purple crocus with some daffodils here and there.

I’ll have to go back later, when the fawn lilies are blooming, and the camas, the gold buttercups. . . or I could sit here and wait, along with June Swadron.

But Summit Park is lovely, even without the carpet of wildflowers. The branches of the Garry oak weave a magic spell  - holding you prisoner in a state of awe at their strength, their ancientness.

From page 104 in Victoria – Bench by Bench:

Summit Park

“I want to go to the flower-top mountain,” a child begs her grandma . What she wants is to go to Summit Park in the spring when the fawn lilies are everywhere and the white or purple camas are coming out, along with the gold buttercups, the elegant rein orchid, shooting star, and satin flower. Summit Park in the spring has a magical carpet of wildflowers, some of which are protected. All of Summit Park is classified as a sensitive ecosystem, with much of the natural area still intact. It is one of the largest remaining stands of Garry oak in the City of Victoria.

In summer the wildflowers die back and disappear into the mass of dried grasses. Then, without the distraction of all that colour at your feet, your attention is drawn to the rich, green leaves of the oak and the deep ridges on the trunks. The Garry oak are suited to our climate, able to withstand long periods of drought. They are the king of these rocky hills as other trees and shrubs need more soil at their feet.

There are several access points to the park: the Highview/Lang intersection (steep trail); either end of Blackwood Street; and Arthur Avenue. Tread carefully and keep to the main trails. You might be stepping on the endangered yellow montane violet.

There are a couple of benches under the magnificent oak. This one is, “Graham Ian Anguish, 1945-2006, Ian-Dad, Loved and missed. He appreciated life and the earth’s beauty.”

The best viewpoints are on top of the rocks-looking out to Mt. Douglas and Mt. Tolmie.  Check out the mural painted on the Telus tower with a view of Mt. Tolmie.

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