What a season to be gardening on the west coast. Non-stop sunshine and fair weather made for one extremely busy May. We spent many the late eve racking up beautiful plants and sending them out throughout Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Make hay while the sun shines. Grow beautiful plants and find them new homes. Such is the life of a nurseryman. What seemed like forever was over in an instance. My sense of time has been on the fast forward as of late. A rumbling succession of spring flowers have emerged this season. From one leaf grows two and then three, as days get longer and warmer the plants truly come to life. A jungle grows up almost overnight. Having setup the bones of this garden many years ago this season provided a remarkably effortless astonishing display.
Some notable plant news in my garden.
-This season one of my echiums flowered.
-My tetrapanax grew a few more feet and at it’s base many offsets have poked their heads. Dreams of a rice paper plant forest becoming more possible each day.
-Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ assumed dead last season (didn’t poke up once) appeared this year full force with 10-15 heads.
-Cardiocrinium Lily blooming right now. 12 cream shaded trumpets standing over 10ft tall in the garden. During afternoon dabbled shade flickers an intoxicating smell comes in waves.
-Front succulent bed thriving. Agave parryi spent the winter outdoors.
-New vegetable beds out front. Just planted a Ketchup and Fries tomato potato plant. I’ve been eating zero mile greens for months.
Life has been grand. Now for some photos. April through May in my garden & greenhouse. Growing plants industrially is not for the faint of heart. It’s a staggering thought to be handling literally millions of plants per year. Each one with their own special requirements. The natural programming to thrive given the opportunity. A little bit of this a little bit of that. Not too much water, but not too little. Just right. AND. presto. another perfect plant.
Do you like plants? Do you know what a petunia is? Oh good. Think you could go down to the lower houses and gather me up. Say 2500-3000 of them. I need them by Sunday, but no later than Monday. Flat after flat of visual feast.
A hard thing to fully conceptualize but I sometimes stand back and wonder. Where do all these begonias end up to grow? Probably down the street, some a few towns away. In mountain gardens and beachside villas. Apartments. Mansions. Hospitals. Grocery Stores. Police Stations and your grandma’s window sill. I’m a cog in a complex system of the plant industry. Where do your begonias come from? May is a crazy time of year for us. Some weeks tend to feel like that movie ‘GroundHog Day’ with Bill Murray . We work from sunrise to sunset, day after day. It has it’s challenges but is a satisfying meditation to endure. As people escape the clutches of winter they go absolutely plant crazy here in Victoria B.C. It really is an awesome event. The scavenger hunt begins and people rush out to find their old favorites and the rare and new. I really do love the job. After a long day in the sun, we often have dinner out in the garden. A lush coolness is in the air. A great place to unwind and relax the mind, body and soul. Corokia ‘Little Prince’ A view from the bedroom. Manfreda is flowering. So far over 7ft tall. Agave victoriae-reginae Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ Xerophyllum tenax ‘Bear Grass’ First echium blooms. Sinningia leucotricha Agave attenuata
A word to the wise that our annual plant hoarder’s plant sale will be happening Sunday June 21st (Father’s Day) @ Cook & Fairfield. A fantastic array of plants from near and far. Color & annuals, perennials and oddities, vegetables and herbs. A fine assortment of amazing plants. For the person just getting started or the gardener who has everything. Show up early for the best selection. 1 Tetrapanax will be available via silent auction. Come check out my outdoor succulent garden and swap a plant story or two. My plants are orphans and need new homes. See you there!
A belated Happy New Years to all of my favorite plant friends. Here we are in 2015, a year full of promise and good things to come. This winter has been unseasonably pleasant, our little city on the southern point of Vancouver Island has nary seen a drop of snow all season. I’ve been in a t-shirt since early February, what a beautiful time to be alive.
What have I been doing you ask and why haven’t I been updating my plant musings? Let’s just say between family, the greenhouse and a large succulent collection. Most moments are quickly used up.
Life is a pleasure and a delight; I’m thoroughly enjoying fatherhood. My son shows interest in his first spring conscious as a walking and talking sponge for sensation. He runs about the garden, running his hand through the leaves and different textures. He squeals and squeaks with fresh observations. Stumbles and trolls throughout my backyard jungle. I now have a co-pilot in my exploration of local gardens.
Here as we enter spring, the temperatures rise and the days lengthen. Life is emerging all around, my garden slowly begins to wake up and unravel. As the plants awaken I’m also uplifted by the bright days of spring. It’s an inspiring time of year and one can’t help but get lost in the garden as the sun sets yet another day. Much tidying, propagating and organizing. If my garden was Broadway it’d be saying. Showtime!
So having been on a creative hiatus for a bit it’s hard to nail down just what I want to say here. Perhaps just to say hello and I’m alive and well. For the moment I will start off with a mishmash of photos from my latest botanical endeavors. Yes, Here we go. Let’s start off at my life at the greenhouses.
Since the start of 2015 we’ve has some awesome weeks of sunshine. Above a morning snapshot of greenhouses at sunrise.
Hellebore ‘Camelot’ flowering in unison.
From late December right through to February it was Primula polyanthus from morning until night.
It’s a funny thing working outside everyday. Cold and bitter, hot and humid. From January through December we work in all forms of weather and end up changing clothing every 15 minutes as a cloud passes by or the sun shines high.
To produce plants at an industrial level takes more than just good planning it takes the bronze to get the job done. You like fuchsia baskets? Now do it thousand times. I’ve always prefered this type of exertion to the gym.
I love the stretching infinity. Baskets upon baskets, in all directions.
A house full of hanging Cool Wave pansies at their perfect stage of bloom. When the house is shut tight the subtle scent is multiplied and enchanting. I have a poor sense of smell but it’s permiates none the less. It smell fresh & aromatic. Incredible.
My associate watering some spring baskets in.
At this time of year we start to make use of every last inch of space. Successions of spring bedding crops are planted and laid out. Marigolds, lobelia, snap dragons, petunias and so much more. Each day brings us closer to true spring.We will work from dawn until dusk to move large volumes of plants across the island and beyond. Maybe some of these will be planted outside your window one day.
With all the grandeur and excitement of life it often feels like there isn’t enough hours in a day. A time traveler in a modest sense, time flies when you’re having fun.
The harbinger of spring, Daffodil ‘Tete a Tete’ in full bloom.
Arabis ‘Spring Charm’.
I’ve been sorting our plant laboratory for the last few months trying to make sense of what to do with all these crazy plants. An army of aeoniums for an upcoming project lay on the right side, a table of on oddities on the left. I’m in the midst of downsizing some of my personal collection. For those who live locally and are looking for some true botanical gems, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Speaking of aeoniums. This Aeonium atropurpureum has begun to flower.
An small gathering of echiums. I wonder what gardens these will find their way into.
A beautiful mangave specimen.
A few flats of Aeonium tabuliforme I grew from seed last year. They’re just starting to look right and show off their fibonacci sprial.
Dicksonia fibrosa with spanish moss.
Walking through Finnarty Gardens at the UVIC Campus we came across this amazing Garrya elliptica tree in bloom.
Cherry blossoms, daffodils and young life.
We’ve been frequenting the great gardens of Victoria. If you haven’t made it to Government House yet this season, it’s time to pour a warm drink and take off for a jaunt.
Primula Wanda Hybrid.
Back at home things are coming up nicely.
Anemone nemorosa is awesome.
Dodecatheon and Salix boydii.
My latest acquisition from Fraser Thimble Gardens Corydalis ‘George Baker’. A fleeting ephemeral moment of spring.
Dinosuars run amok.
A garden nymph getting into my sedum pot.
Beautiful Vancouver Island. I love you.
Until next time plant people. Wishing you great success with your springtime and garden. Ciao
What a crazy rainy evening. Here is a cheery reminder of spring. Only 6 months until spring 2015.
Hello dear plant people.
The days are getting shorter, the weather a tad bit cool. Can you believe it’s already mid October. It’s been such beautiful season, count 2014 a win for the gardeners of this west coast island. Where have I been you ask? Oh you know. Hands busy in the garden and greenhouse. Trying to focus on family life, watching the daily evolution of the young one. If I had ever thought I was busy in the past, this year is breaking records.
To say I’m reaping what I’ve sowed in an understatement. I’m always surprised by the botanical curiosities popping up in the garden. Having collected my plants at all times of the year, there’s almost always something interesting happening out back.
The Tetrapanax has had a successful season; it was so happy it created this offset this spring. Looks like I got two now. Hardy tropical foliage, always a head turner. I only need another 98 for the forest I’d like to plant one day.
At well over 10 feet tall, this Tetrapanax starting doing something unusual late in the season. With anywhere from 20-30 more frost free days do you think it will make it to flower?
No this isn’t a holly ( Ilex aquifolium ); it’s something much stranger. Desfontainia spinosa is a long way from home, appearing naturally from Costa Rica and further south. I’ve had mine for a number of years and it has modest growth at best. In summer it has some remarkable candy corn flowers. Pictured above, it’s Inca guardian.
Some plants lend well to small pots. As the days go on terms like drought tolerant and alpine are extra appealing.
Standing nearly 20feet tall these jerusalem artichoke flowers are a welcome touch of gold on a glum rainy day.
Rarely a flower, these saffron crocus come up every October. Charming foliage among rock jasmine; androsace.
Working at a greenhouse facility that predominately works with annuals; it’s hard not to have a few follow me home. If you’ve never grown dragon wing begonias their worth a try for sure. They grow vigorously and are almost never without flowers. Large shiny foliage right up until frost. A remarkable plant.
Looks like a coleus to me; think again. It’s Perilla ‘Magilla’ and I planted this mid summer. As the garden started to cool off from spring blooms; coleus and this Perilla really help liven things up. I have had zero trouble keep this looking good. An annual sure, but incredible it is indeed.
My favorite of the new Coleus varieties we grew this season. This ones seems to be the best branching and maintains it’s shape well. What incredible gold fringed leaves. The botanist who came up with this hybrid must be pleased.
Trialing some new cultivars from Ball Seed; Viola Sorbet Fire.
You know I ship 1000′s of flats of pansies and violas each season. After a while you get tired of seeing the same colors each year. I’m happy we’ve added a couple new ones to our list. Viola Lemon Ice and Viola Peach Melba.
The next generation of Echium pininana; let’s hope for a mild winter.
Speaking of echiums, I’ve never had more of them growing. Pictured above is where I placed the carcass of last season’s 15 foot bloom. I guess there is a high rate of germination.
I’ve collected a few to grow on for friends. Still in my to top 3 all time plant favorites.
With wet weather on it’s way I spent the weekend moving in some 100 potted cacti and succulents. What a meditation.
Unusual autumn blooming Ornithogalum dubium.
It’s all in the details. Time to stop and smell the roses. The world is full of astonishing things. If only one is to open their eyes and pay attention.
Good morning and/or afternoon. I hope the day is treating you fine. Another stunning day on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. I really do feel fortunate to be living in such a beautiful part of world. It seems when you turn on the news it’s either drought this or bomb that; if I were to turn it all off and step outside my door things seem pretty calm and smiley in good old Victoria B.C.
It’s been an incredible season for gardening this year. I hate to be one of those people who always opens up their conversations with talk of sunshine and/or hey how bout that weather but alas I’m a closet meteorologist. When one finds themselves working outside day in and day out it’s easy to take notice. Blessed is to have an office outdoors. Today I got some quality garden moments, first a stroll through government house then a little relaxation in the back. Let’s take a look at what caught my eye today.
A perfect stop to slow things down and take it all in. Mix mediterranean with a gary oak meadow.
Perovskia atriplicifolia growing on a dry rockface oceanside view.
It seems the Thistles were looking their best, so many different types were in bloom. A very large Eryngium agavifolium.
Caught the echinops just starting to open.
I’m a real fan of giant kniphofia (red hot pokers)
A large Agave parryi that survived two -16C cold snaps this winter exposed and wet. No big deal, nice job agave. Below an ornamental oregano; Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’.
It’s always seemed to me Crinum’s were too tropical to be hardy in Victoria but fool me not these come back every season.
Crinum powellii is a showy bulb from South Africa related to Christmas amaryllis. My only experience with growing these is at the greenhouse but testimonials seem to say they are easy to grow in the garden. Two tips for the wise, they hate being disturbed once planted and are sometimes victim to slugs as the first leaves emerge. Keep your eyes open during early spring when fresh bulbs and bare rooted plants are being sold.
I’ve admired this digitalis the last few times I’ve visited Government House. This one is new to me. Could it be Digitalis parviflora?
Government House Victoria B.C. Centrally located and an easy place to find some serenity.
P.S. I need some ideas for gardening topics to write about. Have you had something you wanted to know, let’s find out together.