Stupid Garden Plants

Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

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.

Tetrapanax offset
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.

Tetrapanax Flowering
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?

desfontainia spinosa
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.

Alpine Pots
Some plants lend well to small pots. As the days go on terms like drought tolerant and alpine are extra appealing.

helwingia chinensis
Helwingia chinensis is showing some great fall color.

Jerusalem artichoke
Standing nearly 20feet tall these jerusalem artichoke flowers are a welcome touch of gold on a glum rainy day.

Androsace
Rarely a flower, these saffron crocus come up every October. Charming foliage among rock jasmine; androsace.

Dragon Wing Begonia
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.

Perilla magilla
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.

Coleus Oxford St
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.

Viola Sorbet Fire
Trialing some new cultivars from Ball Seed; Viola Sorbet Fire.

Viola peach melba and lemon ice
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.

Echium pininana
The next generation of Echium pininana; let’s hope for a mild winter.

Echium pininana
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.

echiums in seed tray
I’ve collected a few to grow on for friends. Still in my to top 3 all time plant favorites.

Echium Wood
Echium wood.

Cacti display
With wet weather on it’s way I spent the weekend moving in some 100 potted cacti and succulents. What a meditation.

Ornithogalum dubium
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. Government house rest stop
A perfect stop to slow things down and take it all in. Mix mediterranean with a gary oak meadow. perovskia atriplicifolia
Perovskia atriplicifolia growing on a dry rockface oceanside view. eryngium agavifolium
It seems the Thistles were looking their best, so many different types were in bloom. A very large Eryngium agavifolium. Eryngium Eryngium Eryngium Echinops
Caught the echinops just starting to open. kniphofia
I’m a real fan of giant kniphofia (red hot pokers) agave parryi & oreganums
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’.
crinum powellii
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
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. digitalis
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? digitalis
Lovely!

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.

Hello dear plant people. I hope the growing season has treated you well. Since we’ve last spoke we’ve sailed through winter, frenzied through spring and here we find ourselves in the midst of summer (The crocosmia are now in bloom).  My life has been a true fury of activity. With our new baby and a predominately sunny spring I have been one busy boy. My garden is lush, a million echium seedlings are popping up everywhere. I’ve really been enjoying how established everything is. The progress from spring to summer is like slow motion fireworks. With all the new changes going on in life one could say I’m a bit distracted.

The greenhouses at work are looking incredible, I’m constantly humbled by the beauty I’m surrounded by daily. I’ve felt very dedicated this year, it’s been satisfying to find homes for so many great plants. Fields of bacopa. Basket lines of fuchsias. Thousands of succulent planters and sedums galore. Petunias, nemesia, liatris and lavendula. Erysimum, dianthus and marigolds and more. It’s an odd thing working at a plant factory day in and day out. To have touched seemingly millions of plants over the years I sometimes look at local gardens and think, have we met before?

A brief montage and highlights of the season thus far.

January fuchsia baskets.
A field of fuchsia baskets January 2014

Primulas
February Polyanthus.

Spring bedding feb
February freshly planted spring bedding.

Armeria
March Armeria juniperifolia flowering.

lavendula fields
March Lavendula fields.

Hardy violas
Hardy Violas.

Lush salad greens.
Springtime salad greens

the cactus collection
The cactus collection persists.

gymnocalycium
First cactus bloom of the season; gymnocalycium.

cactus
Still cactus crazy.

haworthia heaven
Haworthia heaven!

gazinea
Gazinea galore.

sunflower field
An army of sunflowers.

Tetrapanax
Tetrapanax selfie.

Tetrapanax
Ok. One more.

propagation
My finest propagation yet.

man of the woods
Man of the woods.

Will try to not be so absent. Rest assured the botany continues. Just put in a new order to mesa gardens. Fresh succulents here we go.

Until next time. Wishing you lush gardens and sublime evenings.

It’s been frigid cold here in Victoria this past week. Temperatures dropped as low as -10 and a light sprinkling of icy snow coated the city. In the mornings my garden features a series of tropical plant ice sculptures. The two echiums up front have curled up and croaked. A few succulents that didn’t make the cut in the migration met an untimely fate. Mild to some it’s still bloody cold I tend to think these winter months are best celebrated closer to the equator.

On Sunday we took a quick stroll around Government House to see how the plants were fairing.

Ice

Frost damaged sonchus acaulis
Even with the best attempts of the resident gardener this sonchus acaulis looks to have met it’s match with this cold weather. Still you never know.

Agave parryi
A few large agave looked healthy enough.

Hardy Succulents
Here’s hoping they live to see the new year.

hardy bromeliad

bromeliad

mahonia
Mahonia media flowers all winter long.

Hummingbird

I don’t know what I find so fascinating about propagation;  I just can’t seem to stop. From the very start the concept of turning one plant into two has intrigued me. A single plant cut into pieces, rooted carefully creates many more indeed. In no time at all an aspiring plant collector can create a large army of duplicates; through trial and error great things can be achieved. With a little extra skill and most certainly some luck experiments with seeds can have even more staggering results. To think a Californian Redwood started out as small as a grain of rice; it’s humbling to say the least. If there was any one thing I’ve learned from working with plants over the years is that on a biological level, the meaning of life is to reproduce.

That being said, the big secret is out. I’m going to take the next big step as a master propagator and try my hand at creating little people. I’m happy to announce that by the year’s end my girlfriend and I are having a baby boy. I’m excited to embark on this new chapter of life. I have a feeling a garden is an excellent environment to raise children in.

Change is in the wind, please wish us luck.

hoodia juttae
Hoodia juttae seedlings 1.3 years old.

Euphorbia obesa seedlings
Euphorbia obesa 1.2 years old

dioscorea elephantipes
Dioscorea elephantipes 1.5 years old

Castor bean seedling
Castor bean seedling

Echium pininana seedling
Echiums pininana seedling 1.5 months old

Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

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