Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

echium pininana

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!

A belated Happy New Years to all of my favorite plant friends. Here we are in 2015, a year full of promise and good things to come. This winter has been unseasonably pleasant, our little city on the southern point of Vancouver Island has nary seen a drop of snow all season. I’ve been in a t-shirt since early February, what a beautiful time to be alive.

What have I been doing you ask and why haven’t I been updating my plant musings? Let’s just say between family, the greenhouse and a large succulent collection. Most moments are quickly used up.

Life is a pleasure and a delight; I’m thoroughly enjoying fatherhood. My son shows interest in his first spring conscious as a walking and talking sponge for sensation. He runs about the garden, running his hand through the leaves and different textures. He squeals and squeaks with fresh observations. Stumbles and trolls throughout my backyard jungle. I now have a co-pilot in my exploration of local gardens.

Here as we enter spring, the temperatures rise and the days lengthen. Life is emerging all around, my garden slowly begins to wake up and unravel. As the plants awaken I’m also uplifted by the bright days of spring. It’s an inspiring time of year and one can’t help but get lost in the garden as the sun sets yet another day. Much tidying, propagating and organizing. If my garden was Broadway it’d be saying. Showtime!

So having been on a creative hiatus for a bit it’s hard to nail down just what I want to say here. Perhaps just to say hello and I’m alive and well. For the moment I will start off with a mishmash of photos from my latest botanical endeavors. Yes, Here we go. Let’s start off at my life at the greenhouses.

January Greenhouse
Since the start of 2015 we’ve has some awesome weeks of sunshine. Above a morning snapshot of greenhouses at sunrise.

Hellebore 'Camelot'
Hellebore ‘Camelot’ flowering in unison.

Primula polyanthus
From late December right through to February it was Primula polyanthus from morning until night.

Sunshine Greenhouses
It’s a funny thing working outside everyday. Cold and bitter, hot and humid. From January through December we work in all forms of weather and end up changing clothing every 15 minutes as a cloud passes by or the sun shines high.

Fuchsia baskets
To produce plants at an industrial level takes more than just good planning it takes the bronze to get the job done. You like fuchsia baskets? Now do it thousand times. I’ve always prefered this type of exertion to the gym.

Hanging baskets
I love the stretching infinity. Baskets upon baskets, in all directions.

Hanging Cool Wave Pansies
A house full of hanging Cool Wave pansies at their perfect stage of bloom. When the house is shut tight the subtle scent is multiplied and enchanting. I have a poor sense of smell but it’s permiates none the less. It smell fresh & aromatic. Incredible.

Spring baskets
My associate watering some spring baskets in.

Sprawling Greenhouses
At this time of year we start to make use of every last inch of space. Successions of spring bedding crops are planted and laid out. Marigolds, lobelia, snap dragons, petunias and so much more. Each day brings us closer to true spring.We will work from dawn until dusk to move large volumes of plants across the island and beyond. Maybe some of these will be planted outside your window one day.

Sunset at the greenhouse
Sunset @ greenhouse
With all the grandeur and excitement of life it often feels like there isn’t enough hours in a day. A time traveler in a modest sense, time flies when you’re having fun.

The harbinger of spring, Daffodil ‘Tete a Tete’ in full bloom.

Primula deticulata

Primula denticulata
Primula denticulata

Arabis 'Spring Charm'
Arabis ‘Spring Charm’.

Armeria juniperifolia
Armeria juniperifolia.

pulsatilla vulgaris
Pulsatilla vulgaris.

Our back greenhouse
I’ve been sorting our plant laboratory for the last few months trying to make sense of what to do with all these crazy plants. An army of aeoniums for an upcoming project lay on the right side, a table of on oddities on the left. I’m in the midst of downsizing some of my personal collection. For those who live locally and are looking for some true botanical gems, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

aeonium atropurpureum flowers
aeonium atropurpureum flowers
Speaking of aeoniums. This Aeonium atropurpureum has begun to flower.

An small gathering of echiums. I wonder what gardens these will find their way into.

A beautiful mangave specimen.

aeonium tabuliforme
Aeonium tabuliforme
A few flats of Aeonium tabuliforme I grew from seed last year. They’re just starting to look right and show off their fibonacci sprial.

dicksonia fibrosa
Dicksonia fibrosa with spanish moss.

garrya elliptica
Walking through Finnarty Gardens at the UVIC Campus we came across this amazing Garrya elliptica tree in bloom.

garrya elliptica
garrya elliptica

Cherry blossoms, daffodils and young life.

Government House Gardens
We’ve been frequenting the great gardens of Victoria. If you haven’t made it to Government House yet this season, it’s time to pour a warm drink and take off for a jaunt.

Ethereal hellebores.

Primula 'Wanda Hybrid'
Primula Wanda Hybrid.

backyard jungle
Back at home things are coming up nicely.

anemone nemorosa
Anemone nemorosa is awesome.


Dodecatheon and Salix boydii.

Primula miniature
Miniature primula.

corydalis George Baker
My latest acquisition from Fraser Thimble Gardens Corydalis ‘George Baker’. A fleeting ephemeral moment of spring.

Dinosuars run amok.

Frosted cyclamen
Frosted cyclamen

Garden nymph
A garden nymph getting into my sedum pot.

Beautiful Vancouver Island. I love you.

Until next time plant people. Wishing you great success with your springtime and garden. Ciao

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.