Despite there being roughly eight thousand different taxa of plants at UBC Botanical Garden, only a precious few are remarked upon year after year in the lunchroom. The first magnolia blossom in spring. Melliodendron xylocarpum. And this, Embothrium coccineum, from the Alpine Garden.
If you don’t know this plant, it will perhaps not surprise you to learn that it is commonly known as Chilean fire bush. The colour, I think, is anything but common, though. It’s difficult as heck to photograph well–the reds are so strong that they are often blown out.
This is also one of those plants that gets me excited about the future at UBC every time I think of it (Embothrium creates a vivid enough memory that one doesn’t have to see it to recall the experience). UBC Botanical Garden was never “completed”. Any gardener will agree that a garden is never finished, but when I say never completed, I mean that the original design of the gardens (at their modern site) from the early 1970s ran out of funding and areas were left either fallow or planted without an overall landscape scheme in mind.
When the time is right, these sorts of areas represent opportunities for a garden. The time is right. One of the planned new gardens is an Araucaria Grove, featuring the flora of South America: an en masse planting of monkey puzzle trees, punctuated by southern beeches (Nothofagus spp.), exotic South American bamboos and, of course, a number of Chilean fire bushes. It’s going to be bold and beautiful.