Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

echiums at government house

It’s been a long hard week at the greenhouse and the truth is I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This is such a beautiful time of year to be working at the nursery. Fields of flowering cyclamen and primroses a plenty. My bosses took a small week-long hiatus and left me in control of their operation. While it wasn’t always easy I enjoyed the opportunity to play a bigger role in the business. It’s satisfying managing people and finding the right job for the right person. I’m always amazed what a good attitude will bring to the workplace, I drink a couple extra coffees and keep things positive. Sure I didn’t end up getting a long weekend like everyone else, but everything went smoothly and in that I’m satisfied. The experience gave me a better perspective on what it’s like to run a business of this size. I now understand why my boss has trouble sleeping during the busy season. Making sure every plant is watered, pest free and shipped when it’s in it’s perfect state is not for the faint of heart. It’s easy to judge your employers actions this way or that but take a moment in their shoes and you’ll see it’s a lot of work being on top. Managing staff, talking up clients and making the BIG DECISIONS can take a lot out of you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but “the boss” is suppose to make it look like he has none. To keep people focused, to set a good example, and to put out the inevitable “house fires” that occur. On Monday they’ll have returned and I’ll go back to my humble life as the resident plant geek and order puller.

orange witch hazel Hamamelis

Witch hazel – Hamamelis

In other plant based news, have you stepped outside lately? Sure it’s been an average of 5-8 degrees Celsius lately but it’s stinking beautiful out there. Cold yes, lifeless not. All around you things are slowly springing to life, bulbs are setting buds and snowdrops are in mass. It’s truly a magical time of year. Sometimes I pretend I love summer the most but really there nothing better then the transition from winter to spring. If you had never visited my garden in the summer and looked at it now you’d barely recognize it. It’s like moving day or something, everything’s packed up and mostly hidden. From here on out starts the slow (but surprisingly fast) process of unpacking and expanding. My love of plants does not so much lie in their stationary aesthetic but the way they’re constantly changing, growing and impressing.

Snowdrops in mass, a blanket of white drooping bells.

Snowdrops in mass, a blanket of white drooping bells.

I worked 6 days at the nursery this week and you’d think that would be enough. Today we went to a couple plant stores, a stroll in the gardens at Government House and then some home gardening until it got dark. I was feeling a bit burnt out last autumn but I’m back in full force. I just can’t get enough of this stuff and feel very fortunate to have found something that makes me this happy.

Forget the Prozac, get in the garden. Spring has sprung at Government House. 

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A rather healthy looking specimen of Euphorbia ‘Glacier’ @ Government House, Victoria

Hellebores Everywhere!

Hellebores Everywhere!

This patch was particularly perfect.

This patch was particularly perfect.

I always try to visit Government House during the early spring but I've never seen these before. They're almost beating the snowdrops in their bloom time. It's hard to tell in this photo but they have a slight green hue. A different form of Iris reticulata? What do you think?

What are these beautiful early flowering iris? A different form of Iris reticulata? It’s hard to tell but they have a slight green hue to them. Impressive is an understatement.

There's a sophistication in snowdrops. Simple but elegant.

There’s a sophistication in snowdrops. Simple but elegant.

Winter acconite, Eranthis

Winter acconite, Eranthis

Cyclamen coum in full spring bloom

Cyclamen coum in full spring bloom

I've only recently learnt about this plant; Garrya elliptica and ever since I've been noticing them all around town. Well, 2 so far, but still I find it weird that I only notice them now that I've read about them. I'm easily smitten by plants that do their performance in the depths of winter. This one looked relatively new in the planting. For a large more incredible specimen check out the one near City Hall in Centennial Square.

I only recently learned about this plant; Garrya elliptica . Now that I know they exist I seem to be spotting them all around town .Well not exactly everywhere actually, but 2 so far. I’m easily smitten by plants that do their performance in the depths of winter. This one looked relatively new in the planting. For a large more incredible specimen check out the one near City Hall in Centennial Square. What strange hanging catkins.

Last but not least the Echium pininana at Government House are still looking great. Even better amidst hellebores and spring flowering bulbs.

Last but not least the Echium pininana at Government House are still looking great. What an unlikely pairing with hellebores and spring bulbs. The joys of gardening.

All 4 show little to no signs of winter damage. I can't tell which but one of these comes from my crop from last summer.

All 4 show little to no signs of winter damage. I can’t tell which but one of these comes from my very own crop of echiums.

Until next time…

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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