Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Everyday I tell myself to slow down on the whole plant collecting thing. The house is getting full up, the garden is at maximum capacity and people must be getting bored of me rambling on about the latest weird plant I’ve found. There I am tossing Latin names around, identifying this and that. Some days I find myself contemplating the perfect potting mix for my latest find and I think to myself “is this who I’ve become?”. I tend my crops, weed, fertilize, water and admire daily. I have never encountered such an all absorbing totally fascinating hobby such as this. It seems so endless. There seems to be an infinite amount of strange and wonderful plants out there, all with their own life cycles, unique traits and quiet secrets. Plant collecting is the ultimate game of observation. It reconnects man with nature and helps bring back the true reality of the space we live in. As modern technology persists, the Internet, iphones, and wordpress blogs keep mankind in a stasis of entertainment and digital reality. To step away from it all now and again, sit back in a garden and just admire the magic of the world we live in, this is where gardening truly shines. I digress

Today through much guilt and weakness of character I found a couple stray plants that needed to come home with me. Poor little guys.

Acacia pravissima ‘Ovens Wattle’

I know I know, I need more borderline tender plants like I do a kick in the shins, but still this interesting Acacia sold me instantly.  This strange specimen tree is native to Australia and in the right conditions gets covered in a carpet of fluffy yellow flowers. With or without blooms I really liked the bizarre tropical look of this plant. I have read stories of people successfully growing it year round in Portland Oregon so I think I might have a chance. More information on this one to come.

FindMePlants.co.uk lists the plants weaknesses as “Invasive top growth; Spiny plant – can scratch young children and gardeners!” This poor plant has a bed rep. Whats so wrong with discouraging children from fooling around in the back garden, this sounds like a selling point to me. The plant isn’t actually as prickly as they make it sound, it’s a friendly plant, honest.

Gloriosa superba (Glory Lily Vine)

While delivering to Garden Works the other week I noticed a shipment of these come in along side some Hercules calla lilies. By the design of the flower I knew them to be some sort of lily, but what lily that might be I wasn’t quite sure. What an amazing bloom these have. The Glory Lily Vine wasn’t exactly cheap, but I had been daydreaming about it for a week now and when you work like a crazy person you gotta treat yourself to this kind of thing.

Gloriosa superba is native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia and is definitely a long way from home living up here in Victoria. Still as May rolls further into early summer Victoria has a mild enough climate for these plants to survive. Hopefully even thrive. As summer rolls on I will update you on my success with this plant.

This plant is incredibly photogenic, the flowers would be great inspiration for some artwork. I would love to do a painting of these sometime.

Breathe Taking.

Last but not least, with much contemplation I also let a small jewel orchid follow me home.

Macodes petola (Jewel Orchid)

Another must have. I had never seen a jewel orchid before last week and now they might be one of my favorite plants of all time. Unlike most orchids jewel orchids are grown for their amazing foliage and not their flowers. While their flowers are still quite beautiful and fragrant, they don’t compete with the gold dusted foliage underneath them. The display at garden works had three varieties of jewel orchid and Macodes petola took the cake. Upon further research it turns out to be the rarer of the group, apparently I chose well. I must have stood there for 15 minutes today, comparing the whole table until this one  shined through. From what I can gather from the Internet, jewel orchids can be easy to grow as long as you give them what they’re looking for. That being high humidity, warm temperatures and a shady / filtered light spot to hang out. Most recommend up to 80% humidity for reliable success of these plants and that is why I planted mine in a terrarium earlier today. First I laid out gravel, then bark and perlite, then sphagnum. I think the plant is going to be right at home.

The whole leaf has an iridescence to them, and in the sunshine they glow with flakes of gold. It’s really quite remarkable.

A close up of the leaves.

You would think after over 70 hours at the greenhouse in the last two weeks I would be overdosed on plants. Apparently it only feeds the addiction, there is so much to see. Thank you for checking out the latest plant hoarding. Stay tuned for more detailed descriptions of the plants in this post.

Get out there and garden. Sprinkle some seeds, or compost a sandwich. Most of all, have fun.


3 Responses to pLANT hOARDING: Spring Fever, I think I have room for one more.

  • Candy Suter says:

    Hahaha! You are a plant hoarder like me. The only difference is I hoard succulents. Love that photogenic Lily. It is really amazing. And hey, one can never have too many plants!

  • Mark and Gaz says:

    Ahh but plant collecting is fun! You can always cull some of them later on 🙂

    I do like the form and shape Acacia pravissima. On milder winters and locations it can survive (and thrive) outdoors here. They make great pot plants too!

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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.