Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants


Might I just start off by saying thanks to everyone who put their input in on the moving idea. So far it’s been some of the most valuable advice I’ve received yet. There are still a couple unknowns, and my decision will be made sometime after the 20th. You, the readers are too kind for words.

In other more positive plant news, today was a snow day. Actually it’s been a bit of a snow week. Flurries flutter on and off, from blizzard to sprinkle, then blasting white sunshine and repeat. For the most part the sun has kept the accumulation in check and as a whole there really isn’t anymore then a couple cms sticking on the ground. The effect is much like a sprinkling of powdered icying sugar, the streets are glazed in a surreal white glow. While I had been relishing in the fact that this is one of the most mild winters to memory, nature hits full force and tells you who’s boss. The tender plants that shouldn’t have made it this far, are surely fried after this is all said and done. My Melianthus major having looked prestine just a couple days ago is surely going to feel this cold snap. We expect temperatures as low as -6 C tonight (roughly 20 degrees farenheit for my U.S readers)and after not being taken seriously all season, winter flexes it’s muscles.

At work things were rather relaxed. The bosses are away in Europe on business and a friend and I have been filling the role. It’s nice to have a little more responsibility and a great opportunity to flex one’s nurseryman skills. Watering, heaters, phone calls and orders, it’s a lot to keep track of.

“With great power, also comes great responsibility” – feel free to read this quote with the most mystical accent in your repetoire!

Much of the day was spent rearranging orders as garden centers called in panicked of receiving more primulas in a snow storm. We moved hellebores that were covered in snow, and brought them to shelter. The girl’s have been busy planting mixed planters, and our delivery men were away in Vancouver picking up plugs. Early spring is a beautiful time of year to work at a greenhouse and on day’s like this you can really bask in the fact that this is what you do for a living. Green sactuaries as it blizzards outside, there really isn’t anything more beautiful then that. While some aspect of my life are in chaos I’m happy to say work life is pretty damn good.

A friend of mine hamming it up in the blizzard. 

So rumor had it this winter would be colder then usual. Yesterday the Victoria blizzard hit and the snow kept falling. While the snow brings back memories of getting a day off school and riding sleds all the day, it also reminds me of the plants that didn’t make the cut for finding a spot in the warm house. A peak into the greenhouse today showed a frozen wonderland, a whole season of echeverias and aeoniums frozen solid (more pictures soon, i promise). Among the victims was also one very sad looking standardized lantana I decided to chance in the cold-frame instead of bringing it inside with it’s 5 friends. How Cruel!

-8 weather in November in Victoria B.C… It’s unreal, and I hope things warm up a bit asap.

When winter started approaching I did the rounds and brought in as much of my collection as I could, still what’s a guy to do with such a large collection and minimal space to put it in. Thus begins the expensive and heartbreaking trial and error to see will would survive in the cold winter. Although everything is frozen solid in my mini greenhouse, they aren’t exactly soaking wet. I made an effort to not water for the last couple months so hopefully that will be the saving grace. Cold and wet is a killer I hear.

Shot taken NOV 18TH 2010

Before I became a gardener I never noticed plants and the various states they go through. This year as I walked around the back of my house I noticed the battle these plants seemed to be fighting. The leaves look damaged and frozen, the majority of the plant life looks totally fried and barley hanging on. My poor melianthus major which started to really thrive this fall is looking cold and unimpressed. It’s amazing that only a few short months ago everything was large, happy, and as care free as a plant could be. Below is a comparison between this August and November. Wow!

I wake up at 6:50 in the morning and it’s dark and wet outside. When I get home from the greenhouse around five the sun is about to set. What’s wrong with this picture? It happened so gradually but it seems all of a sudden.

The evenings have been cold, and ever since mid September I’ve spent many of my night’s cookie cutting my tropical collection from the garden and into my house. Banana trees need to be brought in, the greenhouse insulated, and maple leaves to be raked. It seems that I got a little carried away with the tender perennials this year and now have to find them warm homes for the winter.

None of my roommates have complained yet, but the living room is starting to look a lot more tropical. Furthermore my girlfriend (who lives next door) has recently agreed to let me convert her bedroom to a plant sanctuary. The cold frame is full, the window sills packed, and here I’m mounting a florescent light on timers to my girlfriend’s ceiling. Oh what a couple years of plant addiction will do to one’s reality, it’s kind of funny really.

Thing’s are slowing down at work , my days have been spent polishing polyethylene greenhouses for next year.  The whole staff are planting daffodils and other spring bulbs for February. I spent the day laying them down, watering and watching my life waste away.

This time of year can be a welcome break from the seemingly endless demands of a garden to it’s gardener. I’m sad to be cutting everything back and tucking it in for the winter, but also relieved that I can have a couple months off. I have been scouring the Internet looking for a ticket to Mexico. It’s time to go where my tropicals originated, to a place where frost never visits, it’s time to tuck myself in for the winter.

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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