Out of focus

I had plans to do some planting at my place today, but having Aconitum fischeri in a pot as the perfect subject to be swinged around for a good picture, put me out of focus. Can you blame me?

Aconitum fischeri

Aconitum fischeri – a super hardy Aconitum (from Siberia, Korea) with huge, dark blue flowers and a nice, upright habit. In the Display Garden at Lost Horizons it flowers well into October every year.

Aconitum fischeri 1 - Copy

My ‘Perfect Wave’ (Arisaema consanguineum) was watching patiently as always; she knows how it goes. It will get planted somewhere, eventually…

Arisaema consanguineum 'Perfect Wave'

Arisaema consanguineum ‘Perfect Wave’ – grown in a container and underplanted with tuberous Begonia


Blue Lemonade

Having car troubles (again) and staying home I decided to follow the saying of making lemonade from the lemons I got. Being quite crispy outside, making lemonade didn’t feel quite right, but after I got ready a few seed packages for the upcoming Seedex, I realized that a blue one might do me good.

So here’s what I prepared:

Gentiana angustifolia 'Frei'

Gentiana angustifolia ‘Frei’

Once upon a time there was a small nursery in Germany called Frei Nursery, after its owner name Hans Frei. Among many other plants he grew lots of gentians, and one year, he sold some seeds to a large seed company. Afterwards, no one lived happily ever after… These days we enjoy in cultivation, most probably, different selections of his original Gentiana angustifolia ‘Frei’. This is a large blooming selection that floats around in the nursery trade under many different name combinations: G. angustifolia hybrids, Frei hybrids or simply Frei. To add to the blue blur, there is also a named Gentiana acaulis ‘Max Frei’.

Gentiana angustifolia 'Frei'

Gentiana angustifolia ‘Frei’

Both G. acaulis and G. angustifolia are among the most prized big flowered alpine, stemless gentians. They are very similar; the main identifiable difference being in the shape and length of the intracalycine membrane (the thin area between the calyx lobes). In cultivation, G. acaulis enjoys an acidic substrate with very good drainage (in nature is found on silicaceous rocks), while G. angustifolia is a bit more ‘relaxed’ when it comes to the garden growing conditions as it tolerates lime very well. Both of them are making for a very good blue lemonade anyway… Gentiana angustifolia 'Frei'

Alpine gentians available in Ontario, unfortunately, only at Lost Horizons Nursery and Wrightman Alpines.

Climbing Monks…hoods

Yet another subject that I don’t have enough time to dedicate – the climbing Aconitum species. While the old fashioned monkshoods have been in the gardens and are well known for a long time (yes, despite the fact that they are highly poisonous), the climbing ones are still to raise a few eyebrows. Most of them, like A. hemsleyanum, A. volubile, and A. uncinatum with the usual blue flowers are a bit more common than this one that makes me start the conversation: Aconitum alboviolaceumfrom China, Korea, Far East Russia, where it grows in “forest, scrub in valleys, mountains; 300-1400 m” (Flora of China vol.6). Two varieties are recognized: var. alboviolaceum: with twining stems – 100-250 cm and var. erectum – stems up to 30 cm tall.

Aconitum alboviolaceum

Aconitum alboviolaceum var. alboviolaceum

Raised from seed and in its third year now, it twined very gracefully around a snake bark maple in the Display Garden at Lost Horizons, without becoming too cumbersome. In a perfect match with the snake bark, rows of monks with pink&white hoods are now, slowly climbing up….