Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I've Been Very Wicked

You know, if it wasn't so darn cold, I wouldn't have anything to write about. How cold is it you ask? -13C (8.6F), -20C (-4F) with the windchill - and a lovely brisk northwest wind it is. It is so cold that my leg flesh is still radiating cold into my office - no doubt dropping the temperature by a degree or two. However, the problem isn't with the cold in my lower extremities, it's with my brain. At least, that's what I'm pleading: brain freeze and the need to pretend it is warm. So rather than drink a fifth of scotch, I ordered more seeds. This time from Gardens North. Alas no photos of the plants I've ordered, but have included some nice frosty bits from my morning walk and so will scatter them amongst the flower descriptions. Isn't blogging fun, you can do exactly as you please, no matter how little sense it makes.

Gardens North http://gardensnorth.com is known for their perennial seed and have worked with many different collectors around the world to provide rare, hardy perennials. They have a few annuals, and of course, just had to buy some:

Solanum laciniatum or Kangaroo Apple - grows 1-3 meters and has showy purple flowers and yellow orange fruit. It is edible from what I've been able to discover for about 6 minutes after it falls on the ground, so we'll just use this as an oddball in pots and in empty spots in the garden.

Solanum purpurescens is a rather mean spirited prickly creature with purple flowers and yellow fruit. Obviously ordered during my beige and prickly phase. It is purple and prickly.

Clematis ochotensis (description from site) "Native to northeast Asia, a beautiful and very hardy species growing at the margins of coniferous and deciduous woods and in thickets, often on rocky soil. Above mat-green ternate leaves, purple-coloured petioles end in nodding flowers with wide, deeply-cut tepals. Seed is from an exceptionally good, rich-purple-blue clone." How could I not buy this seed?

Raymond myconii "This african violet relative is a beautiful plant native to the eastern Pyrenees. Leaves are large, ovate, wrinkled and dark-green forming a low rosette. Lavender-blue flowers on short stems in late spring to summer. For shady rock crevices in humousy soil. As always: very limited. Germination Instructions: Easy, warm germinator." The chance to grow an African violet native in my frosty yard was entirely too tempting - again, had to have it.
Helleborus hyb. Woodland Mix - no explanation necessary - all Hellebores are welcome in my garden. Although it looks as if there will be a bit of fussing to get good germination. "Transfer to a deep pot. Keep outside watered until after first frost. Then put pot in a cool place (no freezing(garage?). Watch for germination. (Am looking forward to climbing around Kevin's car in the garage next winter) Once it starts, bring inside. Continue to keep in the coolest spot available until germination seems complete. (Hmmmmm?) Transplant and grow under lights all winter." Will let you know how I make out.

Angeleca ursina Anything that has bear in the name, has to be good, right? Here's the description: "Native to the far east (Kamchatka, Sakhalin and southern Kuril Islands) and northern Japan growing along streams and in forest clearings. A spectacular, huge perennial species with luxuriant dark-green foliage. An unusually thick stem holds very large compound umbels of white flowers in high summer to early fall." I rest my case.

If you squint when you're looking at the photo above in the far top left you can see Toronto.
Trees: Acer sieboldianum There was a chap in our Hort Society who still grew Peonies from seed when he was in his 80s - so I figure I'm still good for a tree or two. This one is a lovely small Japanese type Maple.
Cephalotaxus harringtonia - Japanese plum yew - it looked interesting in the photograph. However, I see that germination is "quite extended occuring over a 2-4 year period" My only quibble with long germinators is that the squirrels seem to take an interest just as things start to get going - the worst incident of mass destruction involved 36 cardiocrinum grown from seed that were descimated by squirrels in year 3....a sad day in the garden.

So here we are at the end of the seeds, and the end of the photos. Going for a skate shortly. Let's hope I can stay upright - it's been about 5 years since I've put my skates to use. Fingers crossed.


Teza said...

I guess with the cold snow you decided to have a 'Christmas' of sorts in March. I am so impressed and intrigued with your seed listing:

the clem is relatively easy to germinate... I remember up-potting several last summer at the nursery. Supposedly a wonderous flower.

We sold the ramonda myconii - very hardy, stays outside all winter with a blanket to cover. Gorgeous colours and works well with primula in spring.

I wonder if the Angelica is anything like 'gigas'. It is a wonderfully tall plant... wishing I only had the room!

Cephalotaxus fastigiata 'Harringtonia - if you can get this to germinate it is a wonderful shrub... one of the top requested by clients last year, including Marjorie Harris!

I hope that you don't have any bruises after your skate today. Many, many years ago I was a child figure skater but haven't been brave enough to don a pair in....ages! Stay warm. I am lloking forward to updates regarding the germination of these amazing selections!

Gail said...

Barbara, Fearsomely cold weather up there! Your photos are incredible! I have always loved icicles these are wicked cold looking! We can grow the plum yew and I can honestly tell you it's a good shrub...but it is a very slow grower! Hope you had fun skating. gail

Randy Emmitt said...


Thanks for visiting my blog! Guess it'll be more than a month before much planting goes on up there. Still you live in a beautiful place no question. We are in eastern North Carolina, still in the teens at night. Butterflies will be out in 2 weeks and in 3 weeks we'll be seeing dragonflies.

garden girl said...

Good luck with your seed starting Barbara! What a nice way to spend a cold winter day, perusing seed catalogs!

As cold as it is there, it sure is beautiful. You're a brave soul getting out there in your frigid weather to go ice skating.

My ankles are hurting just thinking about digging out my ice skates!

Peggy said...

Those photos look amazing, one looks as if a wave froze in mid air! Gardening and seed catalogues are the only way to go in winter

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I love the photos! The water freezes right in the air, it looks like. Brrr, that's cold:) You need to attach a heater to your legs so they don't freeze up the room! Legs are not meant to be refridgerators:)

I'm playing around w/seeds now too. I am putting more in my little pots today, in fact. Just flowers...perennials and annuals. It's my first time trying this. It's fun, if nothing else;)

We have snow...but it's not 'that' cold...it was 12 degrees this morning but has been warming up in the day. Hope spring comes your way soon!

easygardener said...

Love the icy photos. Those ducks/geese must have very cold feet.
I've got Solanum pyracanthum which has cheerful orange thorns. Yours is obviously the tougher older brother!

Frances said...

Hi Barbara, you are a brave soul, and a soulmate to me with your seed selection. Caution to the wind, right? HA So far I have unable to germinate the hellebores myself, but nature does such a good job without my interference I have given up. Things that need cold then warm then cold have not worked for me, so far. I still have baggies with pots and dates written on them with hopes of one day seeing something. Your icy photots are pretty but cold!

Gardenista said...

I live in zone 1 and absolutely love Gardens North. They have lots of interesting and rare stuff. It sounds like you got a really interesting selection. The excitement should keep you going till it gets warm again! I'm sitting here with -19C outside right now (-31C with windchill) and just finished planting more seeds indoors!

Barbarapc said...

Teza, thanks for the tips, was thinking the ramonda myconii might look good next to the primula francesca - you've confirmed it for me! The skate was painful - didn't fall, but I've got to find some moleskin - my ankle looks like it was crunched in a meat grinder. I bet you'd be surprised at how well you'll do if you put those skates back on.
Gail, you made me giggle - not only will it take 4 years to germinate, it will be a slow grower. Maybe by the time I'm 80, it will be up to my knees!
Randy, that sounds magical, butterflies and dragonflies - it will be a couple of months before we see these little creatures.
GG, as much as we grumble about the weather, it truly provides some spectacular scenery. We just need to be reminded that it is very beautiful.
Glad you enjoyed our frozen waves - in just one week, they're all gone and so is most of the snow. Fingers crossed, this is it for the winter and spring is really headed our way.
Jan, once you start your seeds inside you'll be hooked. Everytime I seed little green specks of germination in the pots my heart just sings.
E.G. I like the idea of the cheerful orange thorns on the solanum - looking forward to seeing what I've got.
Frances, I had a friend who found that after years of trying to germinate hellebores - with not the best success, she was overwhelmed with how well, they did their thing on their own. She said some of her loveliest plants were creations of bees & chance.
Gardenista - Zone 1 gardeners are an exceptional breed. I've got a buddy in Quebec City who claims a Zone 3 - but with mountains of snow he can fool mother nature and do some Zone denial. We really are in the sub-Ontario banana belt here (the shore of Lake Erie being the Ontario banana belt) - thank goodness for our hardworking light tables and the gift of seeds.