Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hellabores Galore

I'm not a slave to the fashionably new, but when so many new hellebore cultivars were made available last year, I was frustrated when I was unable to find them for sale. To make matters worse, here in Southern Ontario, most of the nurseries and garden centres don't get going until May, by which time my own hellebores have been in bloom for several weeks.
This frustration is compounded by the fact that the plant material from nurseries is wintered over in hoop houses and are in bloom even earlier than those in the ground. The result is that most plants that are available in the Spring are way past their best when they go on sale, and since hellebores are one of those plants that need to be selected when they are in flower, this is a very disappointing prospect.
In many other parts of the (tremperate) world, nurseries organize hellebore sales early in the year, when the plants look their best, but again in Southern Ontario there is no such activity, and so this year my friend David Leeman and I have decided to organize our own, starting this weekend ( April 2-3) we will have Hellebores Galore, for sale in my own garden( details of this in the sidebar).

David at the wholesale nursery. Yes that is snow outside!

Helleborus 'Jade Tiger' strain.

Another form of H. 'Jade Tiger'.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Swift Recovery

Almost a week ago we were under a 14cm blanket of snow, and with frigid temperatures too. Sunny days have melted most of the snow but the nights continue to be sub-zero, however the early bulbs have come through it all and today took advantage of the sun in a sheltered corner of the garden.
The Eranthis seem completely unaffected by the nasty turn in the weather and the Crocus tommasinianus also recover immediately, however the Crocus chrysanthus hybrids were a little ragged after the big chill.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It Might as Well be Spring

Lulled into a false sense of security,I was sure that it was just a matter of time before we'd see the weather get warmer and that the Galanthus , Crocus and Eranthis that were already in bloom, would be joined by the usual procession of Spring flowers.
We are, after all, in the banana-belt of Southern Ontario and are used to a relatively early Spring. However we were surprised on Wednesday by a late and quite fierce storm that dumped 14cm of snow and left us in frigid sub-zero temperatures.
It's continued to be cold, but very sunny and clear and as a result, a great deal of the snow has melted.
Today I saw that a number of the Spring bulbs have re-appeared through the surface of the snow and I hope will quickly re-assert themselves into the garden landscape as the weather( surely) improves.

Crocus tommasinianus

Eranthis, Crocus and Galanthus.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anemone de Caen

On the way home from my weekly chiropractic appointment, I pass a florist who, at this time of year, regularly has Anemone de Caen.
I can't resist buying them and it is always a pleasure to watch the buds open in the warmth of the house to show the extravagant arrangement of stamen and pistils in velvety blacks and greys.
I suppose that we have the people of Caen to thank for the hybridizing of this colourful piece of floristry, but the species from which it developed is the mostly red Anemone coronaria.
In fact, the name Anemone is derived from its namesake Adonis who is also known as Naamen. His blood blood is said to have given rise to the blood-red flowers of Anemone coronaria.
A Bowl of Anemones. by photography pioneer John Dillwyn Llewellyn


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japanese Clematis

As a post script to my last posting, I thought I'd say less and show more.
The subtle beauty of japanese clematis has always impressed me and I'm glad that so many of them are now easily available in commerce. Here are a few of my favourites.

Clematis 'Yukikomachi'

Clematis 'Odoriba'

Clematis 'Rooguchi'

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm at a loss for words to say about what is happening in Japan. I decided to look through my photographs to see if I could focus on a something that would convey my sadness at the terrible disaster that has beset this country.
I came up with these two, the first is Murin-an, an exquisite private garden in Kyoto that once belonged to a Meiji era statesman. It was built in 1891 and after the owners death in 1922, it was donated to the City of Kyoto and is now protected as a cultural asset.
The second picture, a detail of a bamboo fence was also taken in Kyoto at the Ryoan-ji temple, the site of the most famous Zen Garden.
I hope that between these two pictures I can express the qualities of the people of Japan, their love of the natural world and the ability to interpret that beauty in the making of everyday objects that fill their lives. The bamboo fence I hope will demonstrate their ingenuity, creativity and strength.


Bamboo screen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Open for Business

If you were following this blog back in November 2010, you might remember me posting a picture of Helleborus niger 'Praecox'. It was still in bloom then and continued to produce flowers as it disappeared under snow in December.
After the thaw we experienced over the last few days, it was interesting to see that the same plant was still sending up buds and although many of the flowers from the fall had decayed in the cold and wet, there were a few still functioning. Inside the rather shabby sepals I found that the nectaries, pistels and stamens were all in working order and waiting for a passing pollinator.

A shabby flower burnt by sub-zero temperatures.

Its' reproductive organs still intact.

New Agaves

This week I was able to find two new Agaves for my collection, they both have dramatic variegation and will be given pride of place in my Agave Theatre this Spring.

Agave lophanta variegata 'Quadricolor'

Agave schidigera 'Shira ito no ohi'

Both plants transplanted into nice hand-thrown pots.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus

During the winter months I lend a small section of my greenhouse bench to my friend and neighbour Erika, who being a fellow plant geekster, shares an interest in many of the same plants.
The nice thing about this arrangement is that Erika looks after the greenhouse when I'm out of town and when I'm at home I get to enjoy her plants as well as my own.
Currently, I've had the pleasure of watching Erika's Tecophilaea come into bloom and since she has only been able to visit on the weekends, I have been documenting it's progress and sending the images on by email.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cyclamen coum 'Found in Compost'

A few Summers ago I was repotting some of my cyclamen seedlings, I found that some of the corms were soft to the touch, assuming that they were rotten I threw them in the compost.
Later that Summer at a time when the cyclamen were coming out of dormancy, I was surprised to find one of the rejected corms growing quite happily on top of the compost, I potted it up and it has grown on to be one of my favourite plants.
I keep careful records on the plants that I grow from seed, each of there labels recording where the seed originated, when it was sown and repotted, however my favourite Cyclamen bears the label that says 'Found in Compost'.

St. David's Day

This is the Welsh flag which is raised over my front door on St. David's Day and to greet Welsh visitors on other times of the year.
Looking for other Welsh related pictures in my files, I can only find these pictures of the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

The Great Glasshouse is the largest single span glasshouse in the world and was designed by Norman Foster. It houses a collection of plants from areas of the world that have climates similar to the Mediterranean.