Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Can you believe I’ve only been a plant lunatic for five years now? Oh how time flies when you spend afternoons watching seedlings mature into trees. An interest in marigolds evolved into caudiciforms, a curiosity¬†turned into obsession. On the hot days of summer I find myself chasing watering cans, from greenhouse to back yard, why is my life so utterly un-irrigated. Plants hold precedence, and drink they must.

I work at a flower factory, come home and admire them some more. I remember days when it was all shades of green, a lacking of understanding created a visual blindness. I’ve always been fascinated in watching people’s observational skills, it’s interesting to see what people pick up on and notice. Some friends and acquaintances visit the back yard grotto with little more then a “hey nice” while others leave amazed. I often find myself planting, manicuring and nurturing the collection with the momentum of some greater purpose, but inherently it’s all for selfish reasons. No one will notice the intricacy of my madness, much like painting, it’s the sum of the whole.

Today I gave a tour of the greenhouse and my collection to some of the Cacti and Succulent Society members. Of course wouldn’t you know it, plan a garden tour, expect rain. It was fun but wet, talking amongst the other enthusiasts it’s apparent I’ve gone over the deep end. Plants aren’t just a hobby to me, they have become a way of life. While I could imagine eventually downgrading the collection, I could never be without plants all together. I’ve lost interest in following the hot new bands, video-games and bar flies, the latest botanical oddity seems to excite me more. Let’s take a break from gardening and go check out some nurseries, or maybe we could go visit a park and stare at some old growth specimens…

Plants ruined my life, and if you’re not careful, they could ruin yours too.¬†

Planning a trip south of the border, perhaps down to California to check out some botanical gardens and maybe swerve in to see a desert or two. Any botanical stops I shouldn’t miss? Comments and suggestions welcome!


A rather charming shot of 3 of my favorite plants. The echium just don’t quit.


A small crop of seed grown echiums. If my specimen at home doesn’t flower, one of these will!


Speaking of seed grown, these canna lilies are looking quite nice right now.


So are these Shirley Poppies, which to me, seem to look much like your common opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.


Are they one of the same?


Passion Flower ‘Lavender Lady’ is quickly becoming a personal favorite.


Breathtaking is an understatement. A field of flowering delphiniums is a pleasant sight indeed.

Until we meet again.

8 Responses to Plants ruined my life, and other plant ramblings

  • Claude Mendell says:

    The passion flowers have a unique structure, which in most cases requires a large bee to effectively pollinate. In the American tropics, wooden beams are mounted very near passionfruit plantings to encourage carpenter bees to nest. The size and structure of flowers of other Passiflora species is optimized for pollination by hummingbirds (especially hermits like Phaethornis), bumble bees, wasps or bats, while yet others are self-pollinating.^:`:

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  • bob archer says:

    Hi Nat, Just returned from a trip down the Oregon coast on the gold wing, Mindblowing,Just north of Florence is the Darlingtonia Bog,Worth a stop to see the Carnivorous “Cobra Lillies”, sitting amongst the plants you can hear the trapped insects buzzing inside the pictures,Awesome,If you go , check out the Sand Dune rides,60 Miles of rolling sand ,Un … REAL, .I have some Darlingtonia “californicum” seed for you .Cheers

  • Hoov says:

    yes the Huntington is a must, and Lotusland, but Lotusland you must make an appointment, so plain long ahead of time. Also Filoli in Northern California. You’ve only just begun, enjoy! It gets better and better, too.

  • Peter says:

    Your life is full of beauty and isn’t ruined until you find yourself living in your car, alone, with only your plant collection for company. Tip: shade plants can live in the trunk if it’s opened a few times a day:-)

  • steven says:

    hey there,

    Enjoy reading your blog and watching your collection grow. I started gardening (and collecting) as a kid. There are definitely worse consumptions. I think gardening is a wonderful art form and education.

    For your trip, closer to home in Seattle:

    - Volunteer Park Conservatory: small conservatory, consisting of five or so glasshouses each kept at a different humidity and temperature – including one for succulents.

    - Washington Park Arboretum – acres of mature tree and shrub collections, and woodland gardens. There’s also a decent Japanese Garden within.

    If you make it to Southern California:

    - My absolute favourite garden is Huntington Gardens in San Marino in northeast corner of Greater Los Angeles. The gardens are extensive with a mature palm tree collection, a small succulent glasshouse, in-the-ground cacti collection, and several historic buildings housing an incredible botanical specimen archive and botanical art collection (including A. R. Valentien’s original watercolours of Californian native plants).

    - Lotusland in Santa Barbara – a very stylized architectural garden, created over a 43 year span by Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known opera singer who died in the 1980′s. There is also an in-situ cactus garden.

    In response to your pondering on poppies… The ones in your photos are definitely Papaver somniferum.

    Shirley poppies generally refer to cultivars of Papaver rhoeas (the Flanders field poppy). They are shorter, bushier or scraggly (depending on growing conditions) with more finely dissected, hairier, darker green leaves and much smaller flowers. I still have descendants growing in the garden of wild P. rhoeas seed that I collected and brought home as a teenager from France.

  • Nat, no worries, you haven’t gone off the deep end, you’ve just joined a better group of people :-).

    Suggestion for Northern California if you make it that far:

    - Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek
    - UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley
    - Cactus Jungle, Berkeley
    - Dry Garden, Oakland
    - Annie’s Annuals, Richmond
    - San Francisco Botanical Garden, SF
    - Flora Grubb, SF

    I’m sure I forgot a few places…

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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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