Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

greenhouse tour

What a season to be gardening on the west coast. Non-stop sunshine and fair weather made for one extremely busy May. We spent many the late eve racking up beautiful plants and sending them out throughout Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Make hay while the sun shines. Grow beautiful plants and find them new homes. Such is the life of a nurseryman. What seemed like forever was over in an instance. My sense of time has been on the fast forward as of late. A rumbling succession of spring flowers have emerged this season. From one leaf grows two and then three, as days get longer and warmer the plants truly come to life. A jungle grows up almost overnight. Having setup the bones of this garden many years ago this season provided a remarkably effortless astonishing display.

Some notable plant news in my garden.

-This season one of my echiums flowered.

-My tetrapanax grew a few more feet and at it’s base many offsets have poked their heads. Dreams of a rice paper plant forest becoming more possible each day.

-Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ assumed dead last season (didn’t poke up once) appeared this year full force with 10-15 heads.

-Cardiocrinium Lily blooming right now. 12 cream shaded trumpets standing over 10ft tall in the garden. During afternoon dabbled shade flickers an intoxicating smell comes in waves.

-Front succulent bed thriving. Agave parryi spent the winter outdoors.

-New vegetable beds out front. Just planted a Ketchup and Fries tomato potato plant. I’ve been eating zero mile greens for months.

Life has been grand. Now for some photos. April through May in my garden & greenhouse. Annual flowers IMG_0645 Growing plants industrially is not for the faint of heart. It’s a staggering thought to be handling literally millions of plants per year. Each one with their own special requirements. The natural programming to thrive given the opportunity. A little bit of this a little bit of that. Not too much water, but not too little. Just right. AND. presto. another perfect plant.

Do you like plants? Do you know what a petunia is?  Oh good. Think you could go down to the lower houses and gather me up. Say 2500-3000 of them. I need them by Sunday, but no later than Monday. Flat after flat of visual feast.

A hard thing to fully conceptualize but I sometimes stand back and wonder. Where do all these begonias end up to grow? Probably down the street, some a few towns away. In mountain gardens and beachside villas. Apartments. Mansions. Hospitals. Grocery Stores. Police Stations and your grandma’s window sill. I’m a cog in a complex system of the plant industry. Where do your begonias come from? Greenhousehanging basketsgreenhouse productionGreenhouse Primula bulleyanaFull GreenhouseAquilegia Icelandic poppiesLupin May is a crazy time of year for us. Some weeks tend to feel like that movie ‘GroundHog Day’ with Bill Murray . We work from sunrise to sunset, day after day. It has it’s challenges but is a satisfying meditation to endure. As people escape the clutches of winter they go absolutely plant crazy here in Victoria B.C. It really is an awesome event. The scavenger hunt begins and people rush out to find their old favorites and the rare and new. I really do love the job. After a long day in the sun, we often have dinner out in the garden. A lush coolness is in the air. A great place to unwind and relax the mind, body and soul. corokia little prince corokia little prince flowers Corokia ‘Little Prince’ Bedroom garden A view from the bedroom. manfreda manfreda flower spike Manfreda is flowering. So far over 7ft tall. Gardenview agave victoriae-reginae Agave victoriae-reginae Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ Tetrapanax canopy xerophyllum tenax xerophyllum tenax Xerophyllum tenax ‘Bear Grass’ Echium flowers First echium blooms. sinningia leucotricha Sinningia leucotricha agave attenuata Agave attenuata

A word to the wise that our annual plant hoarder’s plant sale will be happening Sunday June 21st  (Father’s Day) @ Cook & Fairfield. A fantastic array of plants from near and far. Color & annuals, perennials and oddities, vegetables and herbs. A fine assortment of amazing plants. For the person just getting started or the gardener who has everything. Show up early for the best selection. 1 Tetrapanax will be available via silent auction. Come check out my outdoor succulent garden and swap a plant story or two. My plants are orphans and need new homes. See you there! 🙂

Plant sale

I’ve been in a bit of a cloud lately. A whirlwind of shipping & growing plants; tis the season afterall. With a forgiving winter and a warm spring to follow, people are extra excited to get their hands dirty. Greenhouse crops of marigold and lobelia seem to evaporate almost as quickly as we can grow them.

“Sold out, sorry try again next year.”

As we tirelessly work away under the warm glow of the greenhouse all else seems to take second stage. There’s something magical about this time of year. Exhaustion aside, it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Around 6:30pm on Friday evening I felt a surliness manifest and decided to give myself a weekend to recharge and recuperate. Tomorrow is another day of course and those delphiniums aren’t going to move themselves. The visual gratification of this gig is unsurpassed. A backyard garden offers a handful of surprises but a 6 acre greenhouse operation offers many. I sit on the deck at work and look upon a strawberry field at dusk. One million white flowers wave and dance in the wind, “is this really where I work?” It seems like a dream or maybe an ice cream headache. This has been quite the season thus far and we’re only just getting started.

Greenhouse Life
Hanging Baskets
Mixed Hanging Baskets
fiberous begonias
Backgreenhouse oddities

Weird plants
Looking for the strange and unusual? The fine people up at Gardenworks Blenkinsop (4290 Blenkinsop Rd Saanich, BC) have given me a table to show off my wares. If you’re looking for echiums, sonchus, passiflora or other oddities please check out my table. Lots to see.

Hope to be writing more in the coming weeks, not enough hours in the day…

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.