Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Weather, Mr Unpredictable

Might I just start off by saying thanks to everyone who put their input in on the moving idea. So far it’s been some of the most valuable advice I’ve received yet. There are still a couple unknowns, and my decision will be made sometime after the 20th. You, the readers are too kind for words.

In other more positive plant news, today was a snow day. Actually it’s been a bit of a snow week. Flurries flutter on and off, from blizzard to sprinkle, then blasting white sunshine and repeat. For the most part the sun has kept the accumulation in check and as a whole there really isn’t anymore then a couple cms sticking on the ground. The effect is much like a sprinkling of powdered icying sugar, the streets are glazed in a surreal white glow. While I had been relishing in the fact that this is one of the most mild winters to memory, nature hits full force and tells you who’s boss. The tender plants that shouldn’t have made it this far, are surely fried after this is all said and done. My Melianthus major having looked prestine just a couple days ago is surely going to feel this cold snap. We expect temperatures as low as -6 C tonight (roughly 20 degrees farenheit for my U.S readers)and after not being taken seriously all season, winter flexes it’s muscles.

At work things were rather relaxed. The bosses are away in Europe on business and a friend and I have been filling the role. It’s nice to have a little more responsibility and a great opportunity to flex one’s nurseryman skills. Watering, heaters, phone calls and orders, it’s a lot to keep track of.

“With great power, also comes great responsibility” – feel free to read this quote with the most mystical accent in your repetoire!

Much of the day was spent rearranging orders as garden centers called in panicked of receiving more primulas in a snow storm. We moved hellebores that were covered in snow, and brought them to shelter. The girl’s have been busy planting mixed planters, and our delivery men were away in Vancouver picking up plugs. Early spring is a beautiful time of year to work at a greenhouse and on day’s like this you can really bask in the fact that this is what you do for a living. Green sactuaries as it blizzards outside, there really isn’t anything more beautiful then that. While some aspect of my life are in chaos I’m happy to say work life is pretty damn good.

A friend of mine hamming it up in the blizzard. 

Whew! What a week!

The weather in Victoria seems to be declining steadily, shorts have been replaced with pants and a sweater seems almost essential to leave the house in the morning. The temperature has dropped down to 10 C and I fear a frost is right around the corner. Everyday after work is a mad dash to catch some sunlight and sort my plants into various groups of tenders, tropicals and succulents. With the sun now almost completely set at 7:00pm, the few hours I have after work are precious. It’s like cleaning up after a big party, the garden is slowly but surely dismantled and cleaned up. For the moment it’s a complete mess, no time to worry about day to day tidying, I have to find warm homes for my plants before it’s too late. My house is absolutely stuffed, and everyday I bring another load to the greenhouse.

“Oh hey (insert boss’s name here) mind if I overwinter some plants at the greenhouse?”
“Sure thing Nat, just put them in the corner”
(Evil laughter as a cube van pulls up with 1 million plants)

Passiflora caerulea loves the cool autumn weather.

Luckily I have excellent boss’s that encourage such plant madness or life would be much more depressing right now. While the first bay of the main house slowly fills with strange tropical specimens, a couple friend’s and I embark on building a greenhouse of our own at the back of the property. We got the A-OK from our fearless leaders and hope to get started pretty quick here. If everything works out it should be roughly 40ft long and 16ft wide, not bad for a couple of plant geeks.

I must admit at this time of plant dismantling I’m a bit overwelmed by it all. It’s only now that I get to see the sheer volume of my collection, and quite frankly it’s a bit out of control. A quick walk around the house counts a staggering 90+ potted plants, not including any cuttings or would be seed projects. Outside is a fully stocked garden 360 around the house, and now the greenhouse at work slowly fills up. I suppose my mission this year was to learn about plants, and what better way of doing it then to grow them. You’ve got to grow them to learn about them. I would say books barely scratch the surface with the idiosyncrasies of plants, watching them you seem to learn something new everyday.

With the cold chill in the air today I decided to take the matter of saving my tree echium into my own hands. I can”t wait for a truck any longer, I folded down my seats in my VW Golf and managed to get it in. The guy who car pools with me often makes a jokes when there isn’t any plants in my car, as if something’s amiss. You know when you’ve gone down the deep end when.

Quickie Fall Tour October 2011:

Autumn spiders are out in full force.

A valentines day Gerbera that I bought for my girlfriend, allowed to rest, is now in the midst of another impressive display of flowers. Excellent.

Some fall asters I bought from a gardener near Shawnigan Lake really brighten up the place.

A sumac bonsai has great autumn colors.

Autumn colchicum spring out of nowhere.

Flowering from May until frost works just fine for me, Abutilon megapotamicum is a must have. While some treat this as an annual, this one is definitely getting stored in the greenhouse this year.

Last but not least, the cyclamen. If there is any reason to love fall, it’s these amazing little showstoppers.


Thanks for stopping by!

It rained on Monday, actually it poured. I knew from the moment I stepped outside. The air was calm and the skies were silver, while driving to work a gentle spatter of water began to pour. I wore shorts the entire day, and although I got quite wet, it wasn’t exactly unpleasant. The rain came as quick as it went, and by 5:00pm the skies had opened up to sunshine again. Just in time to get off work.  The whole experience reminded me of hurricane season in the Mayan Riviera. Stepping out in the back the whole place glowed green. I can’t put my finger on it but plants look different after a rainstorm. There is a lushness in their leaves, the greens are deeper and unlike handwatering, nature does a thorough job. As an added bonus I get a day off watering, time I get to put towards other things. Like..? Blogging about plants? Apparently~!

The weather made for some really excellent raindrop photos. Leaves have the most unusual waterproofing, it almost defies gravity.

Raindrops on a crocosmia leaf.

Ginko Waterdrop

Sophora moisture fractal

Grass fishing rods.

Senecio water back drop.

This water droplet almost has a picture in it. Print it and frame it!

I really love this photograph, Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’. If taken out of context it reminds of some sort of intergalactic space station. Good inspiration for a painting someday.

A closer look.

Absolutely Surreal.

Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather while it lasts. Autumn’s been creeping around scaring children.

So after a slow (30km) cruise into work this morning I arrived to do the weekly availability at the greenhouses.  It turns out, if you want a perfect product photo of your plant stock you needn’t look further then a snow storm. Skip the bad lighting, color corrections, backdrops, and background distractions. Find a clear patch of snow, plop the plant you want to snapshot, and viola perfect plant photo. No tweaking, no fuss, just a beautiful photograph.

Sure it just so happens plant sales lower by 90% in snowstorms, but at least you can photograph them carefree?
What do you think? Beautiful!

So I guess my days of spring garden tours have come to an end. For the moment it’s a complete white out, and where last week we had a couple t-shirt afternoons, it’s expected to get to -10 tonight. Thank god most of the small buds that have emerged will be insulted by the thick drifts of snow, still I can’t help but to feel a little ripped off.  Spring you where here and now you’re gone, W.T.F!

Yesterday I went for a snowy adventure in Beacon Hill park, I love extreme weather. As long as you are dressed for it, it doesn’t matter how much it’s coming down. Although I was skeptical of bringing my camera out in such hazardous conditions, I think it was well worth the risk. My strategy of seeking refuge under trees, and building overhangs worked well enough to nab the shot safetly. Appently I still have a camera that works.

Although I’m sometimes annoyed by reading garden blogs that get off topic , a walk in the park seems somewhat relevant. Parks being the place that green things thrive, and winter being the time that greenery is at a minimum. Here’s some shots I took in Beacon Hill Park Victoria, via a snow storm.

Gusting winds and falling snow flakes, it was actually quite picturesque.

The ducks seemed perfectly happy even with a thick coat of snow on their backs

Cold hard chilling.

Snowy Corridors in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Something rather surreal about seeing spring blossoms in a snow storm.

….And this concludes my walk in the park. I don’t exactly recal the day when taking pictures of ducks and documenting it online became my thing, but apparently this is the new me. Hope you enjoyed. Tah tah for now.

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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