Last week was an absolute fury of work at the greenhouse. I’m happy to see Mother’s Day come and go. So many hanging baskets; I’ve got marigold vision…
In other plant news, it’s springtime and the plants are just loving it. We’ve had a nice three weeks of sunshine and I’ve been wearing a t-shirt and shorts for weeks. For any of you who are wondering. I succeeded in my mission to get a tree echium to flower this season. In fact after growing more then 50 of them from seed, I had 6 bloom in total. Still none surpass my main plant at home, who lived outdoors all winter (with some protection) and is now reaching towards the heavens.
I took this photo a couple days ago and it’s already grown another half foot. It’s nearly 15 feet tall and climbing. This is probably the coolest plant I’ve ever grown. Imagine if I had five this big…. maybe next year?
More updates to come… So much going on.
With spring underway and everything bursting into life, sometimes we’ve got to slow things down a bit and take a closer look. At this time of year there’s a lot of beauty to be found, acknowledged and appreciated. Although more diminutive then most of the garden’s oddities; Arisarum proboscideum is a worthwhile plant to grow. When I first acquired this tiny plant I made note to put it somewhere it wouldn’t get lost. This plant lends well to being planted in a container so it stands out and makes a bigger impression when it’s doing it’s spring thing. Mid spring this plant rises from the dead and begins it’s spring flush, first with the emergence of it’s small arum like leaves than a gang of these strange mouse tail blooms appear.
I have read that these strange hooded flowers emit an odor similar to mushrooms and attract fungus gnats to aid pollination. So far I’ve had no problems keeping this plant alive; what with it being pest free and hardy here in Victoria. Some report problems with tuber rot but this can be avoiding with providing adequate drainage and not overwatering. With that being said make sure you maintain regular moisture throughout it’s growing season so as to avoid setting the plant into early dormancy. After a couple seasons the plant will grow in a size and is easily divided to start other colonies.
Word to the wise for those in Victoria looking for this plant, I saw some great 4″ pots of arisarum proboscideum for sale at Demitasse in Oak Bay.
I love cyclamen.
It all started a couple years ago when my girlfriend brought me a small tuber from the garden she was working at. It was September at the time and the plant was in full bloom. Just a large mushroom looking thing, with little pink flowers limply hanging off. Soon after being planted, the cyclamen perked up and put on a show that carried on right until first frost. From there the flowers faded and the leaves emerged. While initially it was the florescent blooms that attracted me to this plant, it’s leaves are equally as alluring. These highly ornamental leaves hold on right until the weather starts getting warm at which point the plant goes dormant and awaits cooler weather.
They’re truly a pleasure to grow and if you have more then one variety in the garden you’ll likely see some hybrids appear. Seedlings are slow to start but spread they will. I’ve had them in my garden for nearly 5 years now and I’m just starting to accumulate a population . Ants and birds distribute the seed throughout the garden and seedlings appear in the strangest places. There seems to be a great deal of variability in their leaf design and flower color, each with their own personality and uniqueness. For those of you wanting to share cyclamen with your friends, look towards your oldest plants and take a peak under the leaves in early springtime. While creatures may distribute much of the seed, the majority end up self sowing right at the base of the plant. With a still hand you can gently prick these seedlings away from their mother and pot them on elsewhere. Using this method I was able to collect over 100 seedlings this spring with great success.
Little cyclamen seedlings
While I mostly grow Cyclamen hederifolium (the hardiest) there are over 20 species to try; most native to the Mediterranean region. The more I study these plants the more ingenious they appear. Cyclamen thrive at a time of year when most plants are winding down. As the trees loose their leaves, the cyclamen flush out and capitalize on the newly available light. As summer rolls around and water demands are more dire, cyclamen close up shop and rest until things are more favorable. They are survivors and they owe it all to the strange tuber like storage organ they’ve adapted to survive when times are unfavorable.
This brings me to the reason why I’m talking about cyclamen today, their tubers. On Sunday I was toiling about in the garden in my usual fashion when I went to re-pot a newly acquired cyclamen that wasn’t doing so well. When I took it out of the pot it fell clean. It appears that it wasn’t growing poorly but actually going dormant for the summer season. Until now I’ve never really taken a good look at these tubers in their entirety and upon closer speculation I was blown away. As if this plant wasn’t cool enough, even their unseen tuber hide a secret beauty.
You can find art in the strangest places.
Spring is upon us and busy days are the norm. After a long day at the nursery it’s always a pleasure to take a rest in the garden with a cold beer in hand. Even though I work with plants all day everyday, I still find sanctuary in my garden whenever I get the chance to take it in. The air is cool and fresh, all the abundance of life soothing. It’s interesting watching a garden develop over the years. While it almost never stays the same, a few old standbys inevitably show up right on cue. The stranger the collection, the stranger the visitors. A rare or strange plant need not be difficult to grow, some come back year to year almost as easily as any other garden perennial. During my Sunday in the garden I took a moment to photograph a few of my favorite strange visitors. Let’s take a look shall we?
This will be the third season these Arisaema griffithii have popped up for me. It’s hard to get bored of their incredible patterns and markings. Put side to side they make quite an unusual duo. It’s hard to believe these are easy plants to grow, requiring little no special treatment, completely hardy in our climate here in Victoria.
Although Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ has remained evergreen all winter, now that spring is upon us it’s been putting out a succession of new leaves. Photos don’t do this plant justice, it’s a real gem in the garden.
All of the saxifraga in the garden have started to flower, Saxifraga umbrosa is just starting up. For those seeking alpine treasures take a deep look into the genus saxifraga, you could spend a lifetime exploring their unusual diversity.
If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you’d probably notice me talking about the same plants year by year. The truth it they never cease to amaze me, it’s hard to not give recognition to incredible plants. Here we have Hellebore ‘Winter Moonbeam’ and Euphorbia polychroma.
A less commonly cultivated bleeding heart; Dicentra cucullaria is also doing it’s thing this time of year. Much smaller and delicate than the common dicentra spectabilis, it’s little flowers and fern like foliage are pleasant indeed.
Something a little different from your everyday Lewisia cotyledon; Lewisia tweedyi is in full spring bloom. From what I’ve read they are somewhat susceptible to winter rot so these stayed bone dry all winter long. About a month ago I started watering them again and in a matter of weeks this plant went from a dryed up susk to this beautiful pristine wonder.
Gardeners. We’re a lucky bunch.
Thanks for joining me on this week’s tour.
Well the season’s begun with a shot and bang, 2 weeks of sunshine in mid March will wet gardener’s appetites. We’ve been clearing out greenhouses almost as quickly as we can fill them; our spring annuals seem way ahead of schedule. It’s amazing what a mild spring will do for the garden industry; there’s an excitement in the air. Is it safe for us to go outside again? The chestnut tree in front of my house has swollen buds and will be in leaf within a week methinks.
Like it or not I’ve been a bit zombified as of late, this whole plant thing has been taking it’s toll. I set out to push this to the next level and looking around I might have accomplished that. Between working more than full-time at the nursery, maintaining a large home collection and trying to start up a side greenhouse project; it’s official my life is ruled by plants. It’s exhausting and it’s not even summer yet. In an attempt to maintain fresh inspiration for documenting I’ve now got so much growing that I barely have time to report. If I have any energy left at all the greenhouse project eats it up, then I get home at 8:00pm, eat, bathe and do it again. It’s pure insanity really, a hobby that borders on addiction that has completely devoured my life. What to do now. . . Breathe, meditate and do again of course. That’s springtime for you. Some people run marathons, I collect plants.
Seriously though I always feel overwhelmed at this time of year. Tis the burden of the nurseryman I suppose. When the salmon are in the bay, you get on that boat and get fishing. I never understood it better until this year but spring is the season to do it all. While you can propagate at anytime of year, there is no better time then now. Plants are actively waking up, releasing turbo charged growth chemicals and want to live today more than any other time of year. Seeds sowed in spring have a whole season to grow up whereas mid summer sown only gets a quick autumn of growth. It’s a good time to divide and it’s a good time to reposition. First and foremost it’s a good time to observe, to enjoy and to pay attention.
Some of the nicest Lewisia we’ve grown to date, second season.
A peak into the back greenhouse.
Spring is such an incredible time of year, the growth in the back is almost unbelievable. For the first time in 2 weeks it rained almost all day. Upon coming home the garden was a different place all together. What would seem like week’s worth of growth seems to have occurred over an afternoon of precipitation. Everything is so lush, so pristine.
Can’t find a supplier for Sonchus canariensis? Ok, let’s grow some from seed… 10 months later . . . Now what to do with 35 three foot tall Sonchus…
A lovely plant none the less.
Soak it in while you can, plants are a quick reminder to “stop and smell the roses”. What looks great today, will be gone or different tomorrow. Some flowers appear as if in a blink, just a short appearance to grace your eyelids. If you’re not there, too bad for you, there is no PVR for the garden I’m afraid. As I sit outside and listen to the gentle tap of raindrops I take a deep breathe in and try to truly take in the moment. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years but have forgotten this meditation over a quick generation skip. Put down your iphone once in a while and go for a walk in a garden. Crouch and get at eye level with some plants and take a closer look. Get your hands dirty and give them a feel. Crush a few leaves and investigate there exciting new aromas. Lastly appreciate the miraculousness of life and see the perfection that exists within all things. Mother nature is the finest artist. God I sound like a hippy somedays. . .
Wish me luck ! More photos to follow!
More varieties of epiphyllum than any one man should have. . .
I think this will be the year I’ll get an echium to flower.