Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Originally I wanted to write a post marking the beginning of spring plant hoarding, but then I realized, who am I kidding. I started months ago, or never stopped, every months means more plants in my collection. I love growing new plants, the fascination never ceases to please. New species and new varieties,  plants are a dangerous subject matter for the collecting type. I’d love to boast about discretion but this is something I know very little about. I’d love to say that I at least keep it to one of each, but then I’d also be lying. Really, what self respecting plant geek could pass up an in flower Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ for $10.00. Even if they already had one at home, I think not, “this one’s coming home with Nat.” While one might suggest caution for fear of one’s wallet being emptied I argue that plants are one of the best things you could treat yourself to, surely a better investment then a burger and a beer. Assuming you don’t murder your newly collected plant, they often maintain their value, if not increase as they mature. Tis the life of a king to witness plants bloom from far away lands, I care not for high definition graphics, but more about the crisp beautiful simplicity of an unfurling leaf. Plant collecting is indeed a pleasure.

A white form of Arisaema griffithii. I bought two corms last year but only one bloomed last season. This one came up white, while it’s brother is rich dark chocolate. A pleasant surprise that I don’t think was necessarily intentional when they were packaging the corms. I’ll count this one as a win. 

I love where plant hoarding has taken me, and in time my plant identification has made it even more fun. Often the strangest and the rarest go unlabeled, most exotic nurseries have some gems tucked away for a keen eye. A seemingly dull plain leafy looking plant could be much more amazing if you know the story behind it. Treasure lies for those in the know, make an effort to know your nurseryman for the best selection in town. Be a good customer, support your local nurseries and express a sincere interest. The majority of people running nurseries are in it for the same reason as you are, because they love plants. Given a chance many will share a wealth of information, a resource that should be utilized when the opportunity presents itself. There’s no shame in not knowing the growing conditions of a certain plant, spare yourself the trial and error and ask for some suggestions from someone who’s been there, done that.

The strange leafless blooms of darmera peltata

All rants aside, I’ve been working a lot lately and in turn, have felt an exaggerated need to treat myself with new planty goodness. A quick peak into my latest lack of discretion.

As weather gets more accommodating, now begins the long migration of plants from the greenhouse, to my garden.  A little old mixed in with the new.

Why do plant bloggers love posting pictures of their cars loaded with plants? I know what you’re thinking, did I really need 10 more trachycarpus fortunei. The answer is, yes.

I’m a little embarressed in that I had only intended in taking a peak. Oh well…

I found a very good deal on an exceptionally root-bound pot of Asparagus meyeri, otherwise known as a foxtail fern. Had to give this one a try.

A Tropaeolum tuberosum I started as a peanut sized tuber under lights this winter has grown into a large sprawling vine in only a couple months. A bizarre edible crop, this hardy nasturtium produces tubers said to have a strong peppery taste. I’ll let you know as things progress.

An extremely well established unidentified exotic ginger.

I visited at the right time to witness this Azara lanceolata in full wondrous flower. Another Chilean oddity, this strange tree grows on wet marshy hillsides and produces these amazing vanilla scented flowers. Another reminder to visit your local nurseries frequently so you can see their selection of plants at different times of the year.

The flowers of Azara lanceolata are reminiscent of an acasia tree, but almost more delicate. Even though I don’t have a strong sense of smell, the aroma is intoxicating.

While I’ve only recently learned it’s name, this plant has been on my wish list long before I knew much at all. I first spotted it at a botanical garden in Gottingen, Germany, this Phytolacca americana intrigues me. Known as a weed to some, our northern climate keeps these at bay, pink hued flowers that eventually mature into an ornamental pillar of black berries. So Strange.

Last but not least, I need a little help here.

Is this a Drimia maritima (syn. Urginea maritima)? The nursery had a small stock of them but no one has a solid ID.

If it is, I’ve been trying to seek one of these out for almost 2 years now, often being thwarted by it’s lack of availability and heavy cost of shipping. If it’s not what I think it is, either way I’m thrill, it’s a beautiful plant. After this photo I repotted it and exposed the bulb, lined it with beach rocks in a nice new ceramic pot, it’s a show worthy piece. More photos as soon as I can.

This wasn’t all that I collected this day, but it is as much as I’m willing to document at the moment. The others, while amazing finds, aren’t photogenic quite yet, and will be saved for another day.

Thanks for joining me.

Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Syn Dicentra spectabilis)

Arisaema griffithii still creeping out the joint.

Ornamental strawberry? What’s the point. Fragaria x ananassa ‘Pink Panda’

Maybe really neat. Fragaria x ananassa ‘Pink Panda’

The shade of a bamboo patch.

Echium pininana round two.

And if that doesn’t work out, I’ve got about 20 of each variety popping. One of these seedlings has got to make me proud.


12 Responses to Spring Plant Hoarding

  • Shelley says:


    I’ve just found your blog and have been enjoying your posts. Loved your rationale about spending on plants – they will actually INCREASE in value. True. And a terrific rationalization if I could ever part with any of my precious.

    Wondering how your Asparagus meyeri is doing. It is kind of an obnoxious and invasive spreader here on O`ahu. It tends to crawl up and smother plants in my garden, and it isn’t intimidated by the size of its neighbor. Also, it gets thorny, so once you’ve had enough of it, it’ll put up a bit of a fight to stay. Finally, the root system is extensive and travels a fair ways away from the mother ship.

    Anyway, it’s been great fun to wander through your garden through your blog.


  • One of the problems (joys?) of finding new plant bloggers to follow is finding new plants to buy. The whole blogging thing surely must have increased online sales at tons of nurseries! I just found Tropaeolum tuberosum for about $7–I had to buy it. I love nasturtium and eating uncommon things!

    I look forward to following all of your planty adventures!

  • Hi Nat, I do like visiting here. There is always some wonder to wish for. Arisaema griffithii – does it for me especially – freaky, odd and downright scary. D

  • Nat says:

    Thanks so much for the encouragement everybody, it makes it all worth while. Plants all day everyday it seems, I might be a little obsessed. Happy to share and exchange ideas. What a great way to mix it up with a bunch of like minded people.

  • Gerhard Bock says:

    Hoarding, collecting, whatever you want to call it, KEEP IT UP. You manage to find the most unusual and interesting plants, and in the process you educate all of us. PLUS, reading about your hauls makes me feel less embarrassed about my own purchases :-).

  • Bret says:

    Heh… I love that you called it plant hoarding. I was thinking the other week that we have other hoarder shows, why not a plant hoarders show? Then I realized while the loss of plants is tragic, it’s not the hard hitting reality tv that most want. So instead it’d be a niche audience of plant hoarders writing down new plants to get. Somehow I don’t think that’d work to make big money sadly.

    Great haul by the way. And those Arisaema griffithii pics are amazing.

  • Let me say, I think you really needed these plants. Clearly you would have regretted omitting even a single plant, so you’d have been miserable without them. And that – their ability to bring joy into our lives – is perhaps one of the greatest things about plants!

  • jake says:

    hey nat,

    wow, amazin haul.

    What a treat, thnx…vicarious plant hoarding. Great photog’s.

    I had an excellent visit to Victoria in early March. A dose of spring when it was still winter in cowtown. The taco stand was a great tip!


  • Mark and Gaz says:

    That’s a fantastic looking haul Nat, so many gems! I think one of the highlights of spring is the excitement of buying new plants!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.