Paradise Meadows Perambulation

Jocie and I had a “kid-free day” today and made the most of it by heading up to Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park. The weather on Vancouver Island has been hot and clear for over a week and last winter’s snow is gone in the lower meadows, although patches remain in the shady section of the Lake Helen Mackenzie loop trail. It was hot and clear today, not good light for photography, but excellent for perambulating around the meadows and out to Lake Helen Mackenzie to see how the “spring” flower bloom was progressing.

The Free Dictionary defines perambulate as follows:

  1. to walk through
  2. to inspect an area on foot

In my mind this word perfectly fits with our nature walk—our objective was to take our time to “inspect” the meadows and see what we could see as we “walked through.” We both prefer a leisurely walking pace rather than racing to get from “A” to “B.” Go too fast and you’re apt to miss something interesting. Mind you, in the early part of the hike we tended to walk a bit faster to escape the mosquitoes.

There’s still a bit of snow at higher elevations which is feeding the lakes as it melts which in turn feeds the steams leading down to even lower elevations. The wet areas are rich in wildflowers. Alpine white marsh-marigold (Caltha leptosepala) is showing very well, especially in wet seepage areas and along streams. Depending on the elevation and when the snow melted, the flowers may just be opening or they may already be going to seed.

Alpine white marsh-marigold (Caltha leptosepala)
Alpine white marsh-marigold (Caltha leptosepala) in a wet seepage area next to a small stream.

Occasionally mixed in with the marsh-marigold is the globeflower (Trollius albiflorus). While they look a little similar (both are white flowers with a yellow center), the leaves help separate the two. Globeflower has palmate leaves (shaped like a hand) that are deeply toothed. The marsh-marigold has oval shaped basal leaves which are smooth or blunt-toothed.

Globeflower (Trollius albiforus)
Mixed in with the marsh-marigold was the similar looking Globeflower (Trollius albiforus).

On close examination, the flowers are different as well. I like to think of the globeflower petals as being somewhat wrinkly-papery in appearance. The marsh-marigold flowers are more “defined.” Looking at the underside of the marsh-marigold you’ll often see a purplish tinge at the base of the petals. The globeflower lacks this colouration.

Jeffrey's Shootingstar (Dodecatheon jeffreyi)
Another wet seepage loving plant, Jeffrey’s Shootingstar (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) is in full bloom in wet places in main meadows.

In the main part of the meadows, Jeffrey’s shootingstar (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) is out in full bloom and wet runnels are awash in pink. Like the name suggests, the shootingstar looks like a miniature pink to magenta falling star.

Things seem to be about a month ahead of last year (which was very late due to the high snow pack and slow melt). Jocie and I had a spectacular time ambling along and enjoying the wildflower display. As an added bonus there seemed to be very few people doing the longer loop (we ran into not more than a dozen). Perhaps the muddy trails put them off, but now is definitely the time to get out and do some perambulating.

Read more about the 2011 flower bloom: