Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

spring color

Happy Easter Weekend Everybody!

I love when it rains all week and get’s sunny right in time for the weekend, it’s hard not to feel lucky. Spring is in the air, the cherry blossoms are out in full force and it’s a good time to be a gardener. While it still seems early there is no shortage of garden interest, it’s nice to have a long weekend to sit back and take it all in. Yesterday afternoon I took a stroll around Government House gardens to see what was in bloom. What a pleasure it is to wonder about the open gardens, the sprawling beds full of blooming perennials and old growth specimen trees is a delight to the senses. Birds sang their spring song, the sun shone and a true sense of tranquility was the predominant vibe. I love this time of year.

Victoria is fortunate to have a large amount of old growth flowering cherry trees. Many of the streets are lined with these ethereal fluffy wonders, nothing says spring like cherry blossoms.

Everywhere in town, this way and that, flowering cherry trees are a sight to be seen.

April is primula month, Government House had a nice variety of hardy specimens.

Primula denticulata alba were in full bloom.

Spotted Trilliums

Throughout the Government House grounds is intermixed Gary Oak. Beyond the garden there is an equal sized Gary Oak Meadow, one of the rarest natural ecosystems in Canada. It’s nice to have one right in the center of Victoria. Leafless I love the fractal of branches.

I also spotted a magnolia tree with blooms bigger then my head. Magnolias are marketing geniuses, I think I may need one of these one day.

This may be my favorite stage of polygonatum. The dabbled lighting added to the effect.

I’m not the only one who enjoys these strange spring shoots. After taking this photo I noticed this little guy, circled above.

A little bug no bigger then a grain of salt admired the view from what would seem like the top of a skyscraper comparatively.

This photo of daffodils and hellebores seems to describe spring just right.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Easter Weekend, It’s only half over and I’ve already banked 10 hours in the garden, how about you?

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.

It’s that time of year again, Iris reticulata pokes it’s head up and ushers in spring. Planted in fall this is one of the first things to bloom in early spring/late winter. It’s a delicate little plant with remarkable color and a rather cute stature. Native to Turkey this plant has become a world renowned favorite, sure to please those lusting for color at this gray time of year. Over the weekend the rest of our Reticulata crop opened in almost perfect synchronicity. They all seemed to bloom at the same time and when we returned to work on Monday this is what we saw.


Today I spent 8 hours Sorting, Cleaning and spacing hybrid primulas. Although you’d think I’d hate these things after handling over 20,000 a season, I can’t help but to love their early spring color. Hybrid primulas are definitely a bargain, ranging anywhere between $1.00-$1.50 you can get a beautiful primula that will produce 100′s of flowers before anything else in the garden even gets started.

So far work is going great this year. I guess after two trips to the tropics, I’m well rested. I have considering trying different jobs in the field of horticulture but I have a hard time leaving a place with such an abundance of greenery. Good people and tea at break, life could be a lot worse. The visuals of this job are a real bonus, and greenhouses mimic tropical climates on a sunny day.

Iris “reticulata” in full bloom

Whenever I get fed up with my job I try to remind myself that life is not as bad as one makes it out to be. I think the main strain runs on the 40-50 hour work weeks, week after week, month after month. At that point it doesn’t matter where you work, your mind will get frustrated with the pure concept of never being home. The endless work week tends to put a strain on relationships, creative endeavors (such as this) and plain and simple “Cold Chilling“. Of course in the end this is life and for the most part I’m quite happy where I am. I’m excited to see what 2011 has to offer.

Greenhouses at sunrise.

Greenhouses at sunrise, a yellow beam of morning light.

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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