Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Gardening Rants

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

I’m still alive, alas just a quick hiatus from writing at the moment. More updates to follow :)

puya mirabilis
Puya mirabilis
Sonchus acaulis
Sonchus acaulis
Asarum splendens
Asarum splendens
Cyclamen
Frosted leaf cyclamen
Enkianthus cernuus
Enkianthus cernuus
Senecio cristobalensis
Senecio cristobalensis
ugni molinae
Ugni molinae
Fall color
Fall color
Tetrapanax
Tetrapanax
cacti in autumn
Cacti wait patiently to be brought in for the winter.
Lots of leaves
Messy trees
Pumpkin patch
Pumpkin patch
chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums
Greenhouse
Brisk days at the greenhouse
Cat in Garden
Tobius the garden cat.

Alas it’s been a while yet since I’ve found moments to muse stories on this botanical blog of mine. For those of you who still stop by, thank you for having faith in my return. A lot of big things are happening right now and sometimes creative projects take the brunt of it.

This spring and summer has been a fury of activity. Operating a small hobby greenhouse in the valley has turned out to be a bigger endeavor than one would imagine. Whether you have irrigation or not, the plants need to be regularly checked on. We had a record breaking sunny June & July and the days were hot. While this makes for excellent margarita weather it also inspires extra thirsty gardens.

Growing exotics in the north is not without it’s challenges. Reading some of my favorite plant blogs located in the U.K, Portland & California I would have thought there would be a bigger appetite for strange plants up here. Still I ended up having a few more echiums, sonchus & isoplexsis than I really knew what to do with. Starting strange plants from parts unknown is a great adventure in science. These plants are from the other side of the planet and here they are, flowering in my greenhouse looking quite at home. Propagating is addictive and it can lead to a bit of a messiah complex if you’re not careful. It’s a bizarre feeling being the caretaker of this many plants, it’s very satisfying but a huge responsibility.

Most people crazy enough to have a blog dedicated to plants can relate; this past-time can quickly grow out of hand. If you have the growing space, it will be filled. Even if you don’t you’ll make something work. Although my life is undoubtedly more fulfilling with these plants one can’t underestimate the commitment it takes to have even a modest sized collection. It’s not good enough to have everything survive, we strive for perfection don’t we?

Anyhow onto the topic on hand. The plants.

dicksonia fibrosa
While some might find success growing tree ferns outside, mine lives in the greenhouse where it really thrives.

phytolacca
A noid species of phytolacca bloomed earlier this spring and is now creating it’s strange pillar of berries.

begonia luxurians
Old news for some but Begonia luxurians still holds a special place in my collection. This year I’ve seen leaps in bounds in it’s growth. It’s rippled leaves reminds me of classical art.

dendroseris litoralis
I just love plants with a story. Dendroseris litoralis otherwise known as the cabbage tree is endemic the Juan Fernandez Islands west of Chile and was nearly brought to extinction in the 80′s due to over grazing. It took me a couple years track down some seeds but once acquired they were relatively easy to get going. This is one of two left in my collection, it’s vigorous growth is fun to watch and I’m thrilled to see it’s progress.

solanum pyracanthum
Solanum pyracanthum features velvet stems and golden spikes. Stranger so this plant is a distant relative to the tomato and after flowering creates a similar fruit. I’m uneasy of trying it’s delictable flavor, I’ll leave this one up to admiring.

Aloe polyphylla
A couple successful science projects from seed. Eryngium venustum (Left) Eryngium eburneum (Above) & Aloe polyphylla (Right)

More plant tales to come.  thanks for stopping by. 

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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