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Nanaimo's Spectacular Fall Finery

Updated on December 8, 2015

You aren't in California any more, Toto

As a refugee from central California, I've always loved Canada for her seasons, particularly Fall, when the forests display an absolute riot of colour. This year (2008), I decided to share some of the display with you.


A Bowen Park Postcard

This shot has nothing to do with Fall, but it's one of my favourite Bowen Park photos. The roots surrounding the tree are from an English Ivy plant that was doing its best to choke the life from it...Nanaimo's park maintenance crews killed the ivy by cutting its roots, and the result was this postcard perfect image of a rescued tree.

Oxydendron Arborium - The Sour or "Lily of the Valley" Tree

Oxydendron Arborium - The Sour or "Lily of the Valley" Tree
Oxydendron Arborium - The Sour or "Lily of the Valley" Tree

I have been watching this incredibly beautiful tree grow for more than 30 years. The range of colours it displays throughout the year is truly spectacular!


oxydendron arborium or Lily of the Valley tree
oxydendron arborium or Lily of the Valley tree

Sourwood an exceptional mid-sized tree is also known by less common names as Sorrel Tree as well as the Lily of the Valley tree. A relatively slow growing deciduous specimen reaching eventual heights of 25 to 30 feet and about 20 feet in spread. The sourwood's habit is a broad pyramid with arching/ drooping branches. Notably dark bark that develops deep furrows with age.

The leaves emerge a shiny green in the spring turning a dark green in the summer. The fall color of these 3 to 8" long leaves vary from yellow to red and even purple, with color variation possible on the same tree. The fragrant white flowers bloom from June into early July and are borne in 5 to 10 inch long panicles covering the whole tree in a quite impressive show. Hardy to zones 5 to 9 this tree is well suited for placement in full to part sun in slightly acidic, moist well drained soils.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees - Western Edition

Canadian Maple tre
Canadian Maple tre

Bowen Park

Bowen Park is Nanaimo's largest innercity park; it straddles the Millstone River just north of downtown, starting just above the river's estuary and stretching well upstream.

Bowen is an old and beautiful park featuring beautiful forest and riverfront spots, and a well loved Rhododendron grove.

The park is especially gorgeous in the autumn.

This was taken in the parking lot of the Bowen Seniors complex - the sun's impact on the view immediately caught my eye:

Japanese Maple
Japanese Maple

This lovely lady resides nearby the Raines Cabin...

The Raines Cabin

The Raines Cabin - Bowen Park, Nanaimo, BC
The Raines Cabin - Bowen Park, Nanaimo, BC

The Raines cabin used to lie within Bowen Park, but was demolished after this lens was published. The City of Nanaimo failed to locate a group to relocate it, as the City believed it is becoming a hazard. Alas, the City lacked respect for the hertitage the Raines cabin represented and simply tore it down.

According to a plaque on the site, the cabin was built in 1872 at Nanaimo River Delta, and became the property of the Raines family in 1897. It was donated to the Nanaimo Centennial Museum in 1984 and restored to near its original condition that year.

The Eye of the Dragon

Newcastle Channel

The West side of Newcastle Island (Newcastle Channel) displays fascinating sculpted sandstone caves... soon to be the subject of another lens...

Newcastle Channel, Nanaimo
Newcastle Channel, Nanaimo

These photographs were taken from the bow of the 12 meter dragon boat U BETTE on October 26, 2008. My thanks to the crew for making them possible.

This view is typical of the west (city) side of Newcastle Channel, with its marinas and condominiums lining the shore.

Newcastle Island, Nanaimo, BC
Newcastle Island, Nanaimo, BC

The Newcastle Channel Bra Tree

Newcastle Island Bra Tree
Newcastle Island Bra Tree

Speaking of dragon boat paddlers and their dedication to the sport, no display of Nanaimo colour would be complete without the Bra Tree. Nanaimo's dragon boat teams began hanging their undies on this piling in the Spring of 2008, and things, er, sorta got out of hand. (This tree does not appear in the Field Guide to Western Trees.)

Newcastle Island's - Sandstone Caves

The West side of Newcastle Island (Newcastle Channel) displays fascinating sculpted sandstone caves... soon to be the subject of another lens...

Millstone River (Bowen Park) - This photograph shot from a footbridge in Bowen Park

Millstone River, Nanaimo, BC
Millstone River, Nanaimo, BC

This one was shot from the bow of the U BETTE, which entered the river from Swy-a-lana Lagoon.

Tell me something...

Have you visited Nanaimo?

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Japanese Maple, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Japanese Maple, Nanaimo, BC, Canada

This spectacular Japanese maple is across the street from my home, and fills the living room window with an incredible range of colour.

Around The Neighborhood

These photographs were taken on November 3, 2008, late into Fall, within 1km of my home.

This Willow puts on a spectacular display!

Sour Tree In Flame!

Oxydendron Arborium, The Sour or 'Lily of the Valley' Tree
Oxydendron Arborium, The Sour or 'Lily of the Valley' Tree

I could not resist taking shots of this riot of contrasting colour, with another Oxydendron Arborium, The Sour or "Lily of the Valley" Tree, in the foreground and a Japanese Maple peeking out from behind it.

Around the Neighborhood - Part II

You need dark glasses to view this incredible Japanese Maple!

Count the colours in this gorgeous Maple...

Like this lens?

How 'bout a bump?

Please give Nanaimo's Spectacular Fall Finery a thumbs up, a Facebook Share, or Google+ bump or all three. You can find the icons to the left. Many thanks.

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Reader Feedback

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful! You really caught the awesome fall colours in your photos!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Beautiful lens...I loved all the gorgeous fall colours. Fall is my favourite season and I enjoy the mild temps and of course the beauty of the season too. Blessed!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA


    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Absolutely STUNNING! Your pictures of the trees in Nanaimo are fantastic. Squid Angel blessed -:)

    • Mortira profile image


      10 years ago

      Nanaimo has some of the most beautiful trees in the world. The Japanese Maples are my favorite! Welcome to the Four Seasons group! 5 stars!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great pix Ken


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