I’ve been in a bit of a cloud lately. A whirlwind of shipping & growing plants; tis the season afterall. With a forgiving winter and a warm spring to follow, people are extra excited to get their hands dirty. Greenhouse crops of marigold and lobelia seem to evaporate almost as quickly as we can grow them.
“Sold out, sorry try again next year.”
As we tirelessly work away under the warm glow of the greenhouse all else seems to take second stage. There’s something magical about this time of year. Exhaustion aside, it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Around 6:30pm on Friday evening I felt a surliness manifest and decided to give myself a weekend to recharge and recuperate. Tomorrow is another day of course and those delphiniums aren’t going to move themselves. The visual gratification of this gig is unsurpassed. A backyard garden offers a handful of surprises but a 6 acre greenhouse operation offers many. I sit on the deck at work and look upon a strawberry field at dusk. One million white flowers wave and dance in the wind, “is this really where I work?” It seems like a dream or maybe an ice cream headache. This has been quite the season thus far and we’re only just getting started.
Looking for the strange and unusual? The fine people up at Gardenworks Blenkinsop (4290 Blenkinsop Rd Saanich, BC) have given me a table to show off my wares. If you’re looking for echiums, sonchus, passiflora or other oddities please check out my table. Lots to see.
Hope to be writing more in the coming weeks, not enough hours in the day…
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.
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.