Stupid Garden Plants

Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Hello dear plant people. I hope the growing season has treated you well. Since we’ve last spoke we’ve sailed through winter, frenzied through spring and here we find ourselves in the midst of summer (The crocosmia are now in bloom).  My life has been a true fury of activity. With our new baby and a predominately sunny spring I have been one busy boy. My garden is lush, a million echium seedlings are popping up everywhere. I’ve really been enjoying how established everything is. The progress from spring to summer is like slow motion fireworks. With all the new changes going on in life one could say I’m a bit distracted.

The greenhouses at work are looking incredible, I’m constantly humbled by the beauty I’m surrounded by daily. I’ve felt very dedicated this year, it’s been satisfying to find homes for so many great plants. Fields of bacopa. Basket lines of fuchsias. Thousands of succulent planters and sedums galore. Petunias, nemesia, liatris and lavendula. Erysimum, dianthus and marigolds and more. It’s an odd thing working at a plant factory day in and day out. To have touched seemingly millions of plants over the years I sometimes look at local gardens and think, have we met before?

A brief montage and highlights of the season thus far.

January fuchsia baskets.
A field of fuchsia baskets January 2014

February Polyanthus.

Spring bedding feb
February freshly planted spring bedding.

March Armeria juniperifolia flowering.

lavendula fields
March Lavendula fields.

Hardy violas
Hardy Violas.

Lush salad greens.
Springtime salad greens

the cactus collection
The cactus collection persists.

First cactus bloom of the season; gymnocalycium.

Still cactus crazy.

haworthia heaven
Haworthia heaven!

Gazinea galore.

sunflower field
An army of sunflowers.

Tetrapanax selfie.

Ok. One more.

My finest propagation yet.

man of the woods
Man of the woods.

Will try to not be so absent. Rest assured the botany continues. Just put in a new order to mesa gardens. Fresh succulents here we go.

Until next time. Wishing you lush gardens and sublime evenings.

It’s been frigid cold here in Victoria this past week. Temperatures dropped as low as -10 and a light sprinkling of icy snow coated the city. In the mornings my garden features a series of tropical plant ice sculptures. The two echiums up front have curled up and croaked. A few succulents that didn’t make the cut in the migration met an untimely fate. Mild to some it’s still bloody cold I tend to think these winter months are best celebrated closer to the equator.

On Sunday we took a quick stroll around Government House to see how the plants were fairing.


Frost damaged sonchus acaulis
Even with the best attempts of the resident gardener this sonchus acaulis looks to have met it’s match with this cold weather. Still you never know.

Agave parryi
A few large agave looked healthy enough.

Hardy Succulents
Here’s hoping they live to see the new year.

hardy bromeliad


Mahonia media flowers all winter long.


I don’t know what I find so fascinating about propagation;  I just can’t seem to stop. From the very start the concept of turning one plant into two has intrigued me. A single plant cut into pieces, rooted carefully creates many more indeed. In no time at all an aspiring plant collector can create a large army of duplicates; through trial and error great things can be achieved. With a little extra skill and most certainly some luck experiments with seeds can have even more staggering results. To think a Californian Redwood started out as small as a grain of rice; it’s humbling to say the least. If there was any one thing I’ve learned from working with plants over the years is that on a biological level, the meaning of life is to reproduce.

That being said, the big secret is out. I’m going to take the next big step as a master propagator and try my hand at creating little people. I’m happy to announce that by the year’s end my girlfriend and I are having a baby boy. I’m excited to embark on this new chapter of life. I have a feeling a garden is an excellent environment to raise children in.

Change is in the wind, please wish us luck.

hoodia juttae
Hoodia juttae seedlings 1.3 years old.

Euphorbia obesa seedlings
Euphorbia obesa 1.2 years old

dioscorea elephantipes
Dioscorea elephantipes 1.5 years old

Castor bean seedling
Castor bean seedling

Echium pininana seedling
Echiums pininana seedling 1.5 months old

I’m still alive, alas just a quick hiatus from writing at the moment. More updates to follow :)

puya mirabilis
Puya mirabilis
Sonchus acaulis
Sonchus acaulis
Asarum splendens
Asarum splendens
Frosted leaf cyclamen
Enkianthus cernuus
Enkianthus cernuus
Senecio cristobalensis
Senecio cristobalensis
ugni molinae
Ugni molinae
Fall color
Fall color
cacti in autumn
Cacti wait patiently to be brought in for the winter.
Lots of leaves
Messy trees
Pumpkin patch
Pumpkin patch
Brisk days at the greenhouse
Cat in Garden
Tobius the garden cat.

Summer is fading & autumn is almost here. We’re on the tail end of one of the sunniest summers on record and now I sit here typing to the sound of raindrops and puddle drips. The seasonal change seems to have happened almost overnight.

A couple weeks ago I embarked on a roadtrip to California with my kid brother in the hopes of expanding his world and seeing some fresh highways. We drove south on the 101 from Port Angeles, took the coast through San Fran and down to L.A to see the Huntington Gardens. From there a quick drive east and then north again on the 395 to visit Big Pine & Bishop in search of the oldest living trees on the planet, the Bristle Cone Pines.

The open road

Some Canadians seems intimidated by the idea of driving through the U.S.A but it’s surely one of my most favorite places to road-trip. Their roads are always long and straight and built for speed, well maintained and placed in some of the most scenic passageways I’ve ever seen. From coastal cliffside to deep forests, mountains and deserts; one can see a lot of different ecosystems in a very short amount of time. Driving north from L.A to reach the starting point of the ancient bristle cone pine forest was a new trip for me and I’m very glad I made the trek.

Upon reaching Big Pine California you take a quick right on the 168 and drive into the mountains to reach this world renowned sanctuary. You start out in an almost tundra-like climate devoid of plant life. Making your way up the narrow mountain road you are transported to a time long before man; the vision is almost mars like in it’s sheer vastness and desolate nature. Quickly gaining altitude a pine tree forest emerges and in a short amount of time you find yourself at the starting point of the hike, The Schulman Memorial Grove & Bristle Cone Research Center. A well priced excursion, make sure you have $3.00 on hand for the parking pass and away you go.

There are a couple hikes to choose from depending on your time and fitness. Having drove nearly 3200km to see this forest we opted for the longer excursion and went on exploring the 4mile hike in and around the Methuselah grove. We arrived at 5:00pm and only had a couple of hours of light left so we made sure we kept some haste in our step. Still the hike was easily achieved in less than two hours; given 4 hours you could take your time quite nicely.

Bristle Cone Pines

These trees are believed to be some of the oldest living beings on earth, the most notable inhabitant being the “Methuselah” dated at over at 4,700 years of age. The trees grow in a harsh arid climate, the oldest being found at the highest elevations at over 10,000-11,000 ft in altitude. With few nutrients in the soil and little moisture to speak of;  the hillside has very little botanical diversity at all. Bristle Cone Pine’s (Pinus longaeva) true strength lie in their ability to grow where little else can. Perhaps it is in this fact that they have lived as long as they have. These trees show no signs of senescence and it seems they can grow indefinitely given they don’t die from disaster or the hands of man.

Bristle Cone Pine

These trees have been of great scientific debate over the years and give scientists a unique look into the past. The tree’s rings tell great tales of drought and flood and do a remarkable job of recording the weather patterns over the millennia.

Bristle Cone Pine Forest

Much like visiting the cathedrals in Europe I was filled with an unsurpassed awe. The air was still and absolute in it’s silence. This land was indeed sacred and walking amongst the gnarled and twisted limbs I felt something bigger than myself, then any of us for that matter. Due to the arid conditions the trees stand indefinitely even after death. Carved wood and twisted grains, it was more of a living and breathing art museum then any other forest I’d ever walked before. To think these trees lived long before the birth of Christ, the pyramids and most civilized society today. I found myself contemplating my existence in a much different light, these elders stood here all along.

Bristle Cone Pine

Bristle Cone Pine

Schulman Memorial Grove

Bristle Cone Pine

Old Bristlecone

bristlecone pineBristle Pine

bristle cone pine

Pine frame

Nat & the trees

Gnarled wood

Death Valley

Ancient tree

Very Old Trees

Bristle Cone

Among the pines

Giant Bristle Cone

With the bristle cones

Sunset on the way down.

… Until next time plant people .

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.

Social Media:

Be My Fan On Facebook

Follow Me On

Subscribe to My
RSS Feed

Enjoy what you've read? Proceeds go to raising seedlings
Tip Jar