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
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.
“Summer Time and the living’s easy”
What a beautiful weekend we had here in Victoria; perhaps summer has finally arrived. Gardens are still lush, but thirsty indeed. From greenhouse to garden I live with a hose in hand. I have yet to neglect my duties this season and the garden has rewarded me absolute lushness, ever vigilant do I stand.
Today my girlfriend and I took a stroll about Government House Gardens and what it a treat it was. The sun was shining and the wind wisped gently, shadows danced creating the perfect lighting for a great photo shoot. Government House is my favorite garden in Victoria, it’s location is perfect and it’s botanical obscurity high. Open from sunrise to sunset Government House is free to the public and a great place to relax and forget about life’s woes. Rolling gardens that surround the main building eventually turn into paths of mixed garden on a lichen covered rock face. After a walk through some of the most exciting exotic gardens in Victoria one can continue their journey to the bottom of the property to check out their preserved Gary Oak ecosystem. The gardener’s involved in this project have a real flair for horticulture. Their attention to detail is refreshingly immaculate; the diversity of the garden lends well to much exploring. It’s worth a visit at any time of the year; surprises are in store for those who pay attention and visit often. A perfect place for a coffee & stroll.
Ok.. now onto the photos. So many colorful flowers.
I personally don’t care for oriental poppies in my garden, but here they look ablaze and incredible. Papaver ‘Allegro’ back lite by the nodding sun.
Spotted an Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean Glory Vine) growing as happy as can be. Incredibly hardy here in Victoria if placed in the right location, a light mulch in winter and they spring to life post haste. I was excited to see this one doing so well.
A close up for identification purposes. Eccremocarpus scaber
One of my favorite plantings at Government House. An Eryngium agavifolium & Beschorneria sp. (False Yucca) thrive on this exposed rockface looking out at the sea. Lucky plants get the best view in town.
Eryngium agavifolium blooms
South African Watsonia.
I was happy to see the echium pininana are still doing well.
All but this scarlet one of course. Having had a crop of nearly 100 last season I can say with certaintity this one isn’t going to make it this season.
Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy) in it’s full glorious splendor.
Always excited to see Agaves planted out here in Victoria. What a thrill, live on the wild side. Agave parryi is known to be one of the toughest agaves suited for northern gardens. Depending on the cultivar many are adapted to the wet conditions found out here on the west coast. This one has a couple battle scars from last winter.
Eremurus (Fox Tail Lilies) remind me of fireworks. I really should get a timelapse on these some day, if you sped things up this would almost flicker like a sparkler. Incredible.
It’s no wonder why Dierama’s common name is fishing rod plant. Watch it dance in the wind, bobbing like a lure.
A couple ID’s needed pls. This is some cultivar of thistle mithinks.
Gold Star opportunity to show off your plant knowledge.
An impressive colony of delosperma nubigenum hanging down a rockface.
Although all Delosperma originate from Africa most and many are hardy in northern gardens. Provided they have sun and good drainage they’re an easy plant to grow and thrive on neglect. Easily propagated by cutting they come in a wide array of colors and habit. Flowers range from pink to sunset. They’re a fun plant to collect and rarely aggrivated the busy scheduled gardener. Can you say easy? Yes please!
What’s that I spotted among this exotic border?
A kin from my crop of Sonchus canariensis. I’m excited to see what it looks like at the end of the summer.
What a wonderful day.
P.S for those who are interested…
Please stop on by for the 6th Annual PLANT HOARDERS plant sale, in the cook st village.
A large variety of hardy & tropical perennials, old standbys and rare and exotic. Seed grown Tree Echiums (echium pininana), large specimen burgmansias, gunnera and other way cool plants. Not your average plant sale, well worth coming out rain or shine. LETS HOPE FOR SUN. Located a cook/fairfield (442 COOK), exceptional quality with fair prices. Indulge the inner plant geek and come down for some really great plants. Need gardening advice? Let me recommend something perfect for your garden.
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.