Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

begonia luxurians

Hello to my friends out there in plant land, how have your travels been? Grown anything cool as of late?

A friend of mine stopped by the other day and said.

“Your blog is dead hey? Not writing anymore?”

Hmmm wow, I guess it has been a little while since I mused on here about the strange plants I’m growing. Time tends to escape you when your having a good time. With that being said I thought tonight would be as good a time as any to give you a quick update as to what’s become of this Vancouver Island Plant Nerd.

Anemone nemorosa, Trillium, mimulus,  Scopolia carniolica

As you may have guessed having a son has really changed my life. Without being a parent I thought I was short on time, guess again, children demand most and/or all of one’s free time available. Shortly after turning thirty I officially joined the adult club and my schedule changed significantly. Busier than I’ve ever been in my life but with the busy has also come a whole new sense of purpose and accomplishment. I love being a dad. Growing seedlings of all species has always interested me and watching my son morph into a walking and talking little creature is truly fantastic and probably the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.

my son at the greenhouse

Some have sent messages worried that I have moved on from the world of plants. To that I say not a chance. In fact perhaps I’m just reaching a new plateau with the interest.

Sort of like the change from dating to being married. My love of plants has somewhat matured. In the past 14 days I’ve spent 12 at the greenhouse, long hours of sowing seeds, planting planters and shipping plants to all over the island. I work for two incredible gentlemen that give me a lot of space to be creative with my work. We grow fields of plants and it’s just so satisfying. As we’ve finally arrived at springtime once again, working at a greenhouse is the place to be.

Greenhouse long shot

Coolwave pansy basket
Daffodils flowering at the greenhouse
Still dabbling in rare and strange plants. Keeping an arms distance from impossible to grow species that just don’t make sense up here in the north (a small amorphophallus titanium just came in the mail, I know I never learn). Opting more to grow exotics that have a chance, or at least respond well to a slightly above freezing greenhouse in the winter. Surprisingly there are quite a lot of them and with a little foresight the growing opportunities will keep me busy for many more decades to come. Our winter here was respectful and warm, I have an Aloe krapohliana, an echinopsis and trichocereus growing in my front garden as if we were living near the equator.

The latest crop of agave americana variegate

Seed raised aloe polyphylla in progress.

Begonia luxurians.

Still echium crazy, mostly pininana and there are many self sowed seedlings popping up in and around the garden. Looks like this one I gave to a friend of mine is about to flower.




More great plants doing what they do best.

haemanthus albiflos
Haemanthus albiflos, Aeonium tabuliforme

Podophyllum Spotty Dotty
Podophyllum Spotty Dotty

agave victoriae-reginae
Agave victoriae-reginae

So yes, I’m alive and well. Plants and gardens still play a major role in my life with many more strange plant adventures to come for sure. I’ve been playing with a time-lapse camera in the greenhouse and also have been toying with the idea of a gopro-esk plants show via youtube. Not enough time in the day.

Should you have a question about plants or are searching for anyting strange in particular do not hesitate to get in touch. I love meeting fellow crazy plant people as well as giving my two cents to budding botanists.

Until we meet next. Enjoy your springtime, it’s going to be a great one!

Alas it’s been a while yet since I’ve found moments to muse stories on this botanical blog of mine. For those of you who still stop by, thank you for having faith in my return. A lot of big things are happening right now and sometimes creative projects take the brunt of it.

This spring and summer has been a fury of activity. Operating a small hobby greenhouse in the valley has turned out to be a bigger endeavor than one would imagine. Whether you have irrigation or not, the plants need to be regularly checked on. We had a record breaking sunny June & July and the days were hot. While this makes for excellent margarita weather it also inspires extra thirsty gardens.

Growing exotics in the north is not without it’s challenges. Reading some of my favorite plant blogs located in the U.K, Portland & California I would have thought there would be a bigger appetite for strange plants up here. Still I ended up having a few more echiums, sonchus & isoplexsis than I really knew what to do with. Starting strange plants from parts unknown is a great adventure in science. These plants are from the other side of the planet and here they are, flowering in my greenhouse looking quite at home. Propagating is addictive and it can lead to a bit of a messiah complex if you’re not careful. It’s a bizarre feeling being the caretaker of this many plants, it’s very satisfying but a huge responsibility.

Most people crazy enough to have a blog dedicated to plants can relate; this past-time can quickly grow out of hand. If you have the growing space, it will be filled. Even if you don’t you’ll make something work. Although my life is undoubtedly more fulfilling with these plants one can’t underestimate the commitment it takes to have even a modest sized collection. It’s not good enough to have everything survive, we strive for perfection don’t we?

Anyhow onto the topic on hand. The plants.

dicksonia fibrosa
While some might find success growing tree ferns outside, mine lives in the greenhouse where it really thrives.

A noid species of phytolacca bloomed earlier this spring and is now creating it’s strange pillar of berries.

begonia luxurians
Old news for some but Begonia luxurians still holds a special place in my collection. This year I’ve seen leaps in bounds in it’s growth. It’s rippled leaves reminds me of classical art.

dendroseris litoralis
I just love plants with a story. Dendroseris litoralis otherwise known as the cabbage tree is endemic the Juan Fernandez Islands west of Chile and was nearly brought to extinction in the 80’s due to over grazing. It took me a couple years track down some seeds but once acquired they were relatively easy to get going. This is one of two left in my collection, it’s vigorous growth is fun to watch and I’m thrilled to see it’s progress.

solanum pyracanthum
Solanum pyracanthum features velvet stems and golden spikes. Stranger so this plant is a distant relative to the tomato and after flowering creates a similar fruit. I’m uneasy of trying it’s delictable flavor, I’ll leave this one up to admiring.

Aloe polyphylla
A couple successful science projects from seed. Eryngium venustum (Left) Eryngium eburneum (Above) & Aloe polyphylla (Right)

More plant tales to come.  thanks for stopping by. 

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.