Every spring, Vancouver Islanders are blessed by a multitude of blossoms, their early arrival often the envy of those living in colder climates. But there is a spring flower whose subtle blooms in mid-May often escape notice —– the blue camas lily.
This native plant — camassia — often escapes notice mainly because its habitat, the Garry oak meadows, are rapidly disappearing.
These special places are unique to southeast Vancouver Island. That is why the Camas Fest has been held at Echo Heights Forest in Chemainus for the past two years. The event was sponsored by the Chemainus Residents Association and the Friends of Echo Heights.
While there will be no Camas Fest this year, there are still opportunities to see the camas in bloom.
The 52-acre Echo Heights forest is home to variety of plants and animals, but at this time of year, the three open fields surrounded by forest put on a wonderful display of the blue lilies that are complemented by white fawn lilies, Western buttercup, the pink Sea blush and small blue violets.
Moss and lichen cover much of the rocky outcrops. Also growing in the very shallow soil are arbutus trees, shrubs such as Indian plum and wild roses as well as grasses and herbs. Later in the summer, the amazing native tiger lilies and other flowers continue the impressive displays.
There won’t be a formal Camas Fest this year, but the lilies will be blooming nonetheless. The best place to see them is just behind the postal boxes on the road named Echo Heights in northwest Chemainus.
A trail map and other information is available on the Chemainus Residents Association website.