Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

spring

Act 1: Spring

Here on the west coast of Canada we’re fortunate to have a long growing season. Although our winters often feel like forever, they are short-lived and quickly forgotten. It’s not exactly a summer paradise out there yet but it’s definitely improving each day. Tulips and daffodils line the street, different perennials are waking up and the air is fresh, cool, and full of promise. Our long evenings are back again and I recall looking out the window at 7:30 today to still see some daylight. Life is grand.

After an eight our shift at work today I continued on with my own projects and I was still at the greenhouse at 7:05pm this evening. Seeding trays with rare seeds, potting up trachycarpus and other long-delayed tasks. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when you burn the candle from both ends, still my body is sore and hollow. Work at a nursery all day, tend my greenhouse in my breaks and afternoons, get home to appreciate the back garden, and of course walk amongst my indoor collection. With what time I have left I try to update this blog, have a vague social life and keep my girlfriend happy and appreciated.  When did life solely revolved around plants?  It seems to have happened overnight. Not that this bothers me all that much, but it’s a strange shift in lifestyle from a boozing artist to obsessed plant freak. All in all though I’m quite excited about this year’s gardening season and I can’t wait to see what the back garden has in store. Lots of plants were just getting established last year, this season they should really flourish. There are so many spring bulbs coming up I don’t even know where to start.

I’ve noticed these popping up for the last couple weeks now but only got to see them fully open this weekend. Anemone blanda open and close to the sun so if you come home in the evenings it’s doubtful you’ll ever see them doing their thing. This weekend was stunning, and I was able to snap these photos.


A hyacinth blooming next to the strange and lovely Soldanella alpina. I’ve had this plant for 3 seasons now and last year it didn’t bloom at all. Perhaps due to last year’s frozen winter? Happy to see it doing it’s thing this season.


I first saw these lovely spring bulbs at the Victoria Alpine Society’s garden in Beacon Hill Park. When I saw these bulbs for sale this following autumn it was a no brainer, Chionodoxa are a lovely addition to the spring fireworks display.


The dinosaurs have woken up from their  hibernation and run amok in the sedum patch. Hope they don’t cause too much damage this season.

The countdown to nursery spring mayhem is upon us and from here on out until mid June my life will be busier day by day. I’ll do my best to keep the posts coming, but don’t give up on me if I disappear from time to time.

Whew!

You know spring is in the air when the birds sing all day, the weather is 30 shades of crazy, and the pace at the greenhouse has increased 10 fold. I can’t help but to feel tired lately, the days are long and the workload heavy. I spent the last couple days bailing out greenhouses onto outdoor beds and pulling giant perennial orders for garden centers in and around town. It seems no matter where you look greenhouses are filling up almost as quickly as they’re emptied. The availability list has went from 1 page to 3, and I’m filled with a flurry of busy.


A mushroom I found growing in a golden creeping rosemary. I don’t see a lot of fungi growing there, so this was an usual find.

I work 5-6 days a week at the greenhouse, try to blog at least every other day, garden indoors and out, design websites for small businesses, and try to keep my girlfriend, friends, and family happy and content. I don’t know why I do it to myself, I either have too much time on my hands or I’m too busy to breathe. I guess I’m at my best in these busy moments, still some evenings no amount of coffee brings back the creativity. Sometimes the well runs dry, and all my mind floats towards is sleep and cold chilling. So tired, must write, must live, and create! In moments of nothing I might as well not exist, it is in the daily consciousness that I assert myself to the universe and yell out “I’m still here!”.

Spring is in the air, and I’m so infinitely amazed by everything going on around me. The chestnut tree in front of my house is just starting to leaf out, the cherry blossoms are midway and in their full glory, and my garden has already completed act one of it’s slow motion fireworks display. Yellow bushes of forsythia flaunt their golden visage, daffodils and tulips are saying hello, and almost everything that was asleep a month ago is starting to wake up and do it’s thing. Spring is a lovely time of year, and the more I get into gardening and plants, the more aware I seem to be of the gentle progression of the seasons. I’m enjoying the acute sense of awareness I’m developing in my later years. I spent much of my youth chasing forms of delirium and fogging of the mind, it’s nice to pursue the opposite. Where once I was blind, my eyes are now wide open.


I found this fork in a calibrachoa pot the other day, I guess you never know what you’re going to find.

News flash for the plant hoarding community. I just won a 4″ Cyphostemma juttae on ebay for some ridiculous figure of money, did I need it, no, did I want it yes, should I have spent what I did on it, absolutely not! I guess I just got competitive with the bidding and voila, it’s on it’s way from San Fransisco. Huzzah!


The heucheras are almost ready to ship, what a color!

Life is good, but it’s so busy, as things progress I think the plants are winning the scraps of what I have left. They’re certainly better for the mind and soul then a lot of my boozing friends, after my 500th trip to the bar/club what do I expect to learn from this experience. It all seems so mundane as of late, but most of my friends wouldn’t understand. I do not thrive to be a party animal anymore, all I want is to be a plant mastermind. These things make sense, they’re rarely boring, and pretty much endless in the variety of what one will see. I suppose I do wear rose colored glasses on the subject, but the moment I put them on, they were there for good.


An outstanding shot of the cherry blossoms in action taken by my good friend Kyle M.

As I look out my window into my garden everything seems pretty dead. Where only a few months ago a sub tropical wonderland existed, a barren “dead” zone has taken it’s place. Or has it? A closer inspection reveals a variety of plants coming to life, things are still happening, surprisingly. Now that December has come and gone, spring is on it’s way. Regardless of the freezing temperates, the plants in the back are getting ready for their next years display. I got inspired the other day and went camera crazy, here’s what’s happening in my garden January 2011.

Despite sub freezing temperates the hellebores (winter rose) are blooming happily.

(Below) I’ve had this hellebore for over a year now and it’s still quite tiny, regardless it developed this small flower. So far it the only black bloom in my garden. It doesn’t exactly pop out at first glace, but with a closer investigation it’s a pretty neat addition to the garden.

Another winter flowering specimen, “Glacier Blue” euphorbia is also in bloom at this unlikely time of year.

“Wulfenii” euphorbia

“Tasmanian Tiger” euphorbia in bloom

My first attempt at growing Fox Tailed Lilies (Eremurus). Not exactly an exciting picture but I was happy to see these pop up as I’ve read they’re prone to rot if they aren’t planted in well draining soil. The dormant plant cost my something like 10-13 bucks so it would be a shame to have lost it to the elements.

It seems as the winter days continue on the patterns on these cyclamen leaves only get more intense. This plant is a real winner, beautiful flowers, amazing leaves, winter interest!

You know spring is on it’s way when the daffodils decide to poke their head up. I love this photograph!

Last but not least I thought it fitting to include a photograph of this lewisia “cotyledon” which seems completely unscathed by winter. Awesome!

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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