Our first blooms are appearing in our newly constructed Garry Oak Meadow bordering between the parking lot and the building. Read on for a description of this section of the site landscape and why it is special ecologically and for the building itself.
Garry Oak ecosystems were once a prominent part of the south-eastern regions of Vancouver Island, in fact the Deep Bay spit is believed to once be Garry Oak forest. According to the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team: Prior to European settlement, much of southeastern Vancouver Island was dominated by Garry Oak ecosystems, playing an important role in the rich and complex culture of the First Nations of this region. In the past, some First Nations deliberately burned selected woodlands and meadows to maintain open conditions and promote the growth of berries, nuts and root vegetables such as camas. (that’s Camus blooming in above photo, young Garry oaks being protected from deer browsing in black fence behind).
With help from Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) who provided wildflower seeds, Victoria Drakeford our landscape architect extended Garry Oak plantings we started in 2006 and incorporated a constructed Garry oak meadow in front of the building as a key component of our native plant demonstration landscaping plan.
According to GOERT: Garry oak and associated ecosystems combined are home to more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Many of these species occur nowhere else in Canada. These habitats also support 104 species of birds, 7 amphibians, 7 reptiles and 33 mammal species. Eight hundred insect and mite species are directly associated with Garry oak trees. The ecosystems arose during a warm interval 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, and covered a much greater area than they do today. Due to invasions of exotic species and land development for agricultural, industrial and urban use, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation is occurring at a rapid, accelerating rate. As a result, less than 5% of the original habitat remains in a near-natural condition and more than 100 Garry oak and associated ecosystem species are at risk of extinction. In the context of conservation, saving what is left has become critically important.
We hope that our Garry Oak planting will in some small way will contribute to educating about the importance of these ecosystems. Our planting is also special in that it also encompasses a rain garden that is part of our building systems.
What looks like a dry creek bed at the bottom of the planting is actually a rain garden and key component of our rainwater harvesting system. Underneath the rocky swale is fishpond liner and which terminates in a catchment basin. Water collected from the parking areas and our roof is allowed to filter naturally through sand and is then pumped into what may very well be the largest rain barrel on Vancouver Island.
This immense tank allows us to store 97,000 gallons on water on site. Its height allows enough vertical head to passively power our sprinkler systems, provide firefighting storage for our local fire department and hold non-potable water for toilet flushing and other non potable uses. This should reduce our consumption of potable water by more than 40%.