Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

rattlesnake plantain

Hello plant people

It’s been a tad longer than I had expected, time flies when you’ve got your hands elbow deep in soil. I’ve been planting like crazy trying to take advantage of all this incredible spring energy. The season is starting a little earlier this year and the plants are just loving it. As to tempt the fates let me brag a little more about how frost free my back garden has been this season, it’s almost subtropical. Aeoniums growing outdoors, an echium stands proud at nearly 12 feet; perhaps climate change isn’t so bad after-all.

From the still moments of winter emerges a fury of activity. It’s finally March and it’s time to get out there and get your hands dirty. I decree it’s a prime season to do some gardening! Although heavy with rain, a pineapple express has been gusting through our island bringing in the most amazing warm temperatures. The other morning I was opening up my greenhouse to the the sounds of birds singing, a crisp freshness in the air, it’s serenity was absolute. I love my job.

Today I took some time away from the greenhouse and garden and hiked out in East Sooke Park. Would you believe it’s the first time I’ve been out there? I’ve lived in Victoria for almost 7 years now and still haven’t explored¬†Aylard’s farm, for shame. Through raindrop and mud puddle my girlfriend and I spent an wet afternoon exploring beaches and salal meadows. ¬†The lush temperate rain-forests prevalent on the coast of BC resemble a jungle-like setting a lot more than I often give credit. The place was absolutely bursting with life. With all the Skunk cabbage, sedums, orchids and lichen, you couldn’t imagine a place with more wild lushness. Sometimes I’m blind and nearly daft to how much diversity we have in our forests, but take a closer look, it’s picture perfect.

Oceanfront trees are naturally shaped and bonsai

Oceanfront trees are naturally shaped and bonsai

Anyhow onto the topic at hand, Sedum spathulifolium. Just because I can’t make it to the deserts of the Baja or jungles of South America, doesn’t mean I can’t do a little plant exploring here at home. It’s no surprise to anyone on the coast that Sedum spathulifolium can be found pretty much anywhere moss grows comfortably. Often growing on exposed rock amongst the moss and lichens, this horticultural favorite grows effortlessly in some pretty obscure locations. It’s drought tolerant and changes colors depending on it’s growing conditions. The flowers in the spring are a electric yellow and suddenly succulent hillsides glow gold for a months on end. From the very first moment I encountered sedums I was in love. While some plant’s loose their luster over the years I still can’t help but stand and admire whenever I come across them.

Now for sedums in the wild.

Fields of SedumIMG_7165IMG_7155IMG_7152IMG_7148IMG_7145IMG_7141IMG_7247IMG_7231IMG_7228IMG_7212IMG_7209IMG_7208Wall of SedumIMG_7201IMG_7194IMG_7191aIMG_7191Lichen growing on rocksLichen

Rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)

Rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)

Beautiful British Columbia. Mother Nature has got me beat again. . .

Until next time.

Happy May Long Weekend, hopefully some of you got some time off to appreciate the great weather we’ve been having. Although I couldn’t negotiate the whole 4 day weekend, I was still able to escape the greenhouse for a couple days and do my annual May Long trip to Salt Spring Island. In my two and a half days there I drank entirely too many beers, watched soccer and climbed a mountain. While the obvious reason to be on Salt Spring Island was the soccer and beer, in idle moments I still made time for plant nonsense. A friend and I climbed Reginald Hill in the Fulford Valley, and spotted some rather exciting botanical treats.


Reginald Hill, Saltspring Island


Some interesting lichens we found.


Forest Mushrooms


Side profile


The top of Reginald Hill hill has some really incredible Arbutus menziesii trees. After growing up on Salt Spring Island I’m no stranger to these trees, still I can’t help but to get lost in their beauty. Such beautiful leaves and bark.


The bud of new growth on an arbutus tree.


We found quite a few rattlesnake plantain’s growing amongst the moss. Upon further inspection this one is about to flower. The foliage is quite remarkable.


The highlight of the journey. On our way down the mountain I spotted a small pink flower no bigger then a quarter. To my surprise and excitement, it was a fairy slipper orchid, (Calypso bulbosa) which are somewhat rare. This is the first time I’ve spotted one of these before and it’s a real treat. I feel as though I’m finally starting to recognize enough plants that something as small as this stands out. I think I’m finally getting the eye for this gig. When I got down on the forest floor to snap some photos it made me realize how delicate these ecosystems really are. The orchid grew on the side of the path, easily stepped on by a blind nature enthusiast. The leaf it grew out of was even smaller then flower, the whole things seems so incredibly delicate.


It looks like I might have caught this orchid on one of it’s last days, the color of the flower seem a bit faded. Either way I was happy to spend some time admiring it, what a great gift to this lone plant geek.

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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