Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #33

Gardens Aflame by Maleea Acker, 2012

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2013-04-01

Gardens aflame book jacket Gardens have taken many forms, depending on the time and culture nurturing them. "Gardens Aflame" considers the gardens created by the indigenous people of the greater Victoria area before the arrival of Europeans. At first, we might not recognize these spaces as gardens, but the Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) meadows were carefully maintained to provide valuable camas roots (Camassia quamash and C. leichtlinii), a staple of the native diet.

Maleea Acker takes a keen interest in the history of these meadows and the efforts to preserve and restore them. As one would expect, these are under threat from expanding development and invasive species. But another challenge comes as the native people can no longer provide the management that kept more aggressive native species (especially Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii) from encroaching.

"Meadows were kept clear by the Coast Salish for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, and served as a food source for many First Nations up and down the west coast and into the Interior." While camas was the main crop, other plants were also harvested, and the gardens became important places for people to gather, just as they are today.

Excerpted from the Spring 2013 Arboretum Bulletin.

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