Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

As spring comes into season my garden begins to wake from it’s winter nap. I’m happy to be outside without a winter parka again, it’s so much more  enjoyable to garden in such attire. There is an amazing amount of action going on in the back and I’ve never been more aware of the seasons then now. March feels early but that’s not what the garden says. Here’s the latest on what’s happening in my garden.


Sophora microphylla. I bought this small tree specimen at Silver Sage Nursery near Shawnigan Lake mid summer last year. It’s leaves were reminiscent of a mimosa tree and sold me instantly. It was a happy little tree for the rest of year and when winter started to peak it’s ugly head I placed it in my cold greenhouse and hoped for the best. I kept the plant relatively dry and as winter dragged on further it lost the majority of it’s leaves, I was worried it had died. Still it’s flower buds which had formed mid summer hung lifeless, giving me an odd sense of hope. As March rolled around the buds started to swell and eventually opened. I was happy to know it had survived the winter as Carrie at Silver Sage Nursery told me that the tree was semi tender and she had lost a couple the year before in a freak cold snap.


There are over 30 species of sophora located in temperate to subtropical regions of both hemispheres. Sophora Microphylla is endemic to New Zealand and is widely distributed throughout the country in lowland forests and along riverbeds. Sophora otherwise known as Kowhai are often regarded as New Zealand’s national flower. If your looking for an interesting bonsai specimen, I highly reccomend you try Sophora microphylla.

Ahem.. Moving on…


The often underappreciated Bellis Daisy is a true perennial often sold as an annual in 6 packs. They thrive in the cool spring months from february-mid April and display stunning vibrant double flowers. Mine have come back 2 years in a row and are a happy addition to the back garden. As the weather gets warmer they stop flowering and go somewhat dormant until fall. Varieties come in red, pink and white.


Anemone blanda. These dainty little spring flowers are a real gem. They appear out of nowhere and pop up everywhere once established. They open and close with the sun and easily coexist with other garden plants. Here this anemone grows out of a patch of lamium with no problem at all.


A couple of heucheras coexist with my cyclamen patch.  Here we have Heuchera ‘Black Currant’ with a patch of cyclamen hederifolium. A great example of contrasting leaves.


This Arum italicum grows amongst the cyclamen with ease, another great foliage combo.


The Euphorbia ‘Glacier’ flowers are straightening up and opening . They have a strange boldness to them, they stand proud and strong.


A closeup of the flowers shows a delicate form, I love the macro on this new camera.


A closeup of a raindrop in the center of a Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. Another reason to get a camera with a good macro feature.


My girlfriend gave me a thimble of these sedum a year ago and a half ago and this is what it has turned into. I suspect it to be Sedum hispanicum, otherwise known as blue carpet sedum. Either way it’s an interesting planting that does well in this rocky well drained area.


A couple years ago when I first started this garden there was an ugly cement fence post. I quickly got tired of the utilitarian look of it all and I started to cover it with moss that I found around and about.  Now sedums grow amongst the moss and self seeded snap dragons have made themselves a home. The poor elephant lost it’s trunk, but still stands amongst the shrubbery.


The day lilies (hemerocallis spp) have sprung up quickly this spring. These were plundered from the greenhouse compost having sat dry in a box for over a week. They seem happy overcrowded in this wooden box.


Cheater alert, saxifraga neon rose bought from a nursery (obviously with a headstart greenhouse grown) fully in bud ready to amaze.


This lichen grows back on the same boulder every year, thriving in the cool months when moisture is high and temperatures are moderate. If anyone knowns the specific species please don’t hesitate to let me know. A worthy centerpiece to the garden.


A trial hellebore at the nursery, Hellebore “Moonbeam” is a choice specimen hellebore. Pleasent white/pink flowers with amazing dark variegated foliage.


Primula denticulata is truly the primula to mark the start of spring. As the weather warms up the crowns burst into tufts of purple drumsticks.


Another Silver Sage Nursery score, Hepatica nobilis is a stunning spring flower that doesn’t quit. Although the foliage on mine is a bit fried, the flowers just keep coming. Carrie told me it took 18 weeks for the seeds to germinate, and for 8 bucks it seemed like a deal. It’s buds were formed in the summer and it didn’t flower until now. I’m always happy to see more early spring color.


Oddly enough this is one of my very first garden plants. I got this patch of chives from the greenhouse on my first year there. It’s moved a couple times, been cut down numerous times and once again flushes out in spring. Excellent!


Now lastly I hate to admit it but this is what a rotting fox tail lily looks like. I tried mixing in sand but it was obviously too moist in the container for this guy to thrive. It originally popped up with two spring flushes, the first rotted, and now this one. The conditions that it needed just weren’t right and every once in a while even a green thumb fails. Of course it is only through failure that we learn, and you best believe the next fox tail lily I get won’t see the same fate.

This ends this month’s tour of the garden. A little longer then last month but it is spring afterall.

2 Responses to March Garden Tour

  • Gabriela says:

    Hello,

    I really enjoyed your garden tour especially because we are waiting for snow! I can’t even want to think about it…
    By the way you take great shots! I love looking at plants in full detail.

    ~ Gabriela ~

  • Mark and Gaz says:

    Thanks for the garden tour, and nice selection of hardy plants!

    I also like the Euphorbia ‘Glacier’, very nice and makes a good contrast to other foliage plants. I found it rather short lived, 2-3 years then just dies. Easily replaced though!

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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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