Wednesday Vignette – the native and the foreign

For this week’s vignette, I want to feature a happy accident in my garden. A friend gave me a start of some sort of Iris siberica. I had commented favorably on those long, strappy leaves, and the elegant Fleur de lys flowers so – being a gentle and generous soul – she kindly shared. I think I stuck it in the ground just to get it planted, more so than actually thinking about where it should go. Then one day, suddenly I saw this:

Vancouveria hexandra flowers

I wish I could take credit for this, but I really can’t. Somehow, I had forgotten (or failed to notice) that our little native Vancouveria hexandra – or Inside-Out flower – was planted in just about that same spot. The following spring, the Vancouveria pushed through the smothering foliage of the Iris to showcase its odd little flowers, and remind me of its existence.

I think what struck me most about this combo is the linear texture of the Iris contrasted with the duck feet forms of the Vancouveria leaves, while the colors of the two are nearly identical. That monochromatic backdrop serves as a great foil for these minuscule little flowers. Have you ever looked at them close-up? They are really quite stunning. Their common name refers to their adorable parachute-like flowers, which you have to get down on your knees to really see.

Vancouveria hexandra  flowers

The first time I ever saw a Vancouveria was shortly after we moved to the Pacific NW, and were hiking in the gorgeous Gorge. I thought they were some kind of monstrous Maidenhair fern on steroids, and it took a while for me to figure out that they were indeed a plant in their own right. It was love at first sight, but I really don’t think I noticed they flowered until I spotted them as part of this auspicious accidental pairing. Sometimes, cram-scaping really pays off! I still haven’t decided on a permanent home for the Iris (which by now has gotten quite hefty in size). But what I do know is that when it moves, the Vancouveria will have to go with it – otherwise I will miss out on one of my favorite springtime treats.

Vancouveria hexandra - close-up of flower


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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26 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – the native and the foreign

  1. Mark and Gaz says:

    Nice contrast with the leaves and the delicate blooms amongst them 🙂

  2. Pauline says:

    What a beautiful, dainty flower, so pretty peeping through the iris leaves!

  3. Alison says:

    Vancouveria is one of my favorite natives. That is a great accidental pairing. I’m participating today, my post is here:

  4. What a happy accident! It’s gorgeous. I’m adding Vancouveria to my shopping list.

  5. rickii says:

    We have Vancouveria growing in the woods. It’s a patch visited only occasionally, and I always seem to miss the blossoms. Now I am double glad to have moved some of it into a closer spot in the garden proper. Happy accidents are the lifeblood of gardening.

  6. Kris P says:

    Serendipity! I love your little Vancouveria. Its growth habit reminds me of Epimedium.

  7. mattb325 says:

    What a beautiful plant – I’ve never seen it before, it’s flowers are just so dainty and superb!

    • annamadeit says:

      ….and so unnoticeable! Seriously, once I saw them, I was completely bewitched, but for the first year or two, I didn’t even know they bloomed – it was all about the foliage! Sounds pretty dumb, but it’s true…

  8. Evan says:

    A happy accident for sure! Vancouveria hexandra is one of my favorite natives. I don’t know why but I have a thing for plants that make you work to appreciate their flowers. Asarum caudatum is another one. It’s like a special treat for those of us who take the time to really look.

    • annamadeit says:

      Absolutely, Evan! I also get a kick out of the Mouse plant (Arisarum proboscideum) – it is such a deliciously weird plant, and I love to fold the leaves over to find the “mice”. A spring highlight, for sure! 🙂

  9. Pingback: A Severe Case of Garden Withdrawal | gardeninacity

  10. That is an odd little flower, but very pretty. Reminds me a bit of Shooting Star. Here’s my contribution:

  11. johnvic8 says:

    Thanks to Jason for suggesting a visit to your site. I had just decided to focus on a small space in my garden, and lo and behold, it fits your meme. Please check it out at

  12. b12alley says:

    You have just introduced me to my future flower, Vancouveria. Oh, my!!!!!

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