Saturday, March 14, 2009

And Now for Something a Little Different

Minor setback yesterday. Got a big bag of Caladium from Costco - 20 enormous tubers that I decided I was going to start ahead on my heat cable. Dumped them into my tidy tray only to find that they were morphing into tuberous fuzz and goo. Thought enough of the bag might be OK, but as I handled each one, found that at the very least they were soft, at at the worst, well, they were pretty gross. Fortunately Costco is great - took them back and refunded my bank account the $20.00.

Found a great deal at the dollar store for 3-1/8 size pots - perfect size for me for seeding. I prefer to start my seeds in a pot and then transplant them to 4-packs. They were 12 for $1.00 at Dollarama - made in Thailand. (Do you ever wonder how on earth it is cheaper to make a bunch of pots on the other side of the planet; pack them into a container; ship them across the Pacific Ocean; load them on a transport truck or train to send them from Vancouver to Toronto (4500 kilometers, over 3000 miles); offload the container; take them to the warehouse; pick and pack them for their store; put them back on a truck; deliver them to the store; unpack the box at the store, stack them on the shelves; and ring them through the till.) I'm not feeling nearly so virtuous about packing the pots in my own handy-dandy bag at the moment. I'm going to have to go out and plant a forest to make up for my transgression of finding a good deal on plastic pots.

Where I wanted to go with this post, because it is still beige out there and the stuff on the light table with the teeny tiny seed leaves would make photographs that only a plantmummy could love is to go back through last year and decide based on my photos - what my favourite plants of each month were. At first I thought I would just give you one fav per month. While this plan worked brilliantly for a month like February - no snickering - it started to get harder and harder as more things popped open and the garden took shape. So I'm going to condense the first few months and then, and until it's nicer, a selection of my favourites, taking us through the garden month by month. And maybe when I get to December 2008, it will be time and there will be real bits of garden to show you growing here in my own garden.

January 2008 My Favourite Plant - Carex 'Ice Dancer'

I really hadn't understood the value of a grass that stayed green all winter, until we had a winter that was devoid of January snow. This would be enough to endear this perfect little Carex to me all season - and yet, there's more. It grows in full shade; takes drought and heat, and always looks fresh no matter the season. So, it ranked #1 in January, and is well worth finding a spot for as it looks great all year long.

February 2008 My Favourite Plant - Pinus Strobus Eastern White Pine

The mighty Eastern White Pine - tallest tree in Eastern Canada (up to 30 meters, under 100 feet). It is the most valuable softwood lumber tree in Eastern Canada and was reserved in Colonial Times for Royal Navy shipmasts.(Trees in Canada, J.L. Farrar). I'm lucky enough to have 2 of these giants on my property. While the sap is sticky; the needle shed is unbelievable every two years; and the fact that are prone to lose branches in wind storms - I find there is something so very magical about them. And let's face it, what else can you see growing in my garden in February?

My Favourite Plant - March 2008 - Hamamelis - Witch Hazel

Any plant that blooms while there is a foot of snow on the ground, will win my favourite plant of the month hands down. Not only does it bloom in the snow, it has an otherworldly scent. Smelling floral scent when the landscape is blanketed in snow is beyond fabulous. And, this wonderful shrub also provides shrieking colour in the fall. A++

My Favourite Plant(s) - April 2008 -

(1) Abeliophyllum distichum - White Forsythia

(2) Rijnveld's Early Sensation Daffodils

(3) Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

I've disparaged this plant in the past, but now have done a complete turnaround. It blooms before anything else. It is dainty, white tinged with pink, has a pretty scent and it isn't a forsythia - so four good things to say about it. Yes for the rest of the season it is pretty dull, but look at in April - so sweet. Grows here about 1 meter high and wide. Needs to be pruned to keep its shape - snow cover has a tendency to bend and flatten outer branches.

Frances at Faire Gardens had a great post about moving these wonderful early bloomers around her garden this week. My blooms are about four weeks away - and they truly are the earliest daffs in my garden. Because nothing else is in bloom, people assumed I cheated, dug a hole and plopped a grocery store daff pot in. And I suppose they do look a little weird, because truly - nothing else is really blooming - but the colour and their ability to stand up to really cold April blasts make these an April fav.

I think if I had a very little garden and only room for one plant - this would probably be it. Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' was sent to me by a grower on the west coast to trial. I figured it would last for half a season and be gone - it is now in year five - in bud now as I write, and it's blossoms, leaves, stems are just the best - hence it's up in my top 3 for best flower of April 2008.


Glädjekällan said...

A lovely Helleborus, one of my realy favorits and Hamamelis is another number one.

garden girl said...

Hi Barbara, Great choices! I brought home a carex last fall from a client's garden - not sure if it's exactly the same cultivar (looks like it though.) I hope it survived the winter. It's the first shade-loving grass I'm trying, hopefully not the last!

Teza said...

From someone who has a very small garden, H. 'Ivory Prince' was the first that I planted... and for a while he was the reigning Prince... but alas, as the addition grew, he now faces some heavy competition from some spectacular potential usurpers! Great post. Love the 'Fave Plant' idea. Can't wait for more of your list!

Cathy said...

Beautiful Helleborus! I just bought
some Cladium Bulbs which I never
attemped to grow before any good
advise about them? can I start them

Gail said...

Carex is the plant of the winter in Tennessee...we don't have snowfall covering up our brown leaves. It helps to have green ground level beauties. The Prince is a prince of a hellebore...have you seen the double pinks or yellows?

Love your favorites! I have 7 witch hazels in the garden now! Just call me a piggie!


Barbarapc said...

G.G. If it really is the same one, you'll have no worries - it is as tough as nails.
Teza, Thanks. I'd be interested to see what your favourites are - bet your garden is a tapestry of wonders.
Cathy, find that if I just barely bury them - also like to start them on top of my heat cable. Don't go too crazy with the watering until you see the leaves sprout - they adore heat - the best ones I've ever seen were in Tulsa Oklahoma - gorgeous.
Gail, I love the idea of a climate where you have a winter plant - quite a romantic idea (maybe in my next life) and 7 witch hazels! - I am jealous, but couldn't imagine them living in a nicer home. I've only seen photos of doubles and the yellows - never in person. Will have to see what they've got in the nursery this year.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I have several bags of bulbs, rhizomes and tubers, all just waiting for a) the frost to not be a possibility and/or b) ME, to get them in the ground; meanwhile, I've had them for about a month, waiting. I haven't opened any of them yet...but after your bag from Costco, at least I'll be thinking about that possibility. Otherwise, I might just grab a handful and be surprised by a bunch of mush! yuck!