One month later

Say cheese!

Arisaema triphyllum seedlings

Arisaema triphyllum seedlings

My morning routine of checking the germinatrix revealed that all Arisaema seedlings (triphyllum, flavum and consanguineum) will be 1 month-old tomorrow (counting since sowing). Time goes by so fast!

I said it before but better to repeat – start Arisaema as early as you can, water plenty and they will have an extended season of growth (i.e. bigger tubers). This way, they can start flowering in the third year.

Note: all species mentioned are fast, warm germinators.

Is it spring yet?

Helleborus 'Cherry Blossom'

No, go back to sleep!

Just for the record, Helleborus ‘Cherry Blossom’ went through the last arctic blast of -25˚C that lasted a few days, with minimal snow cover, having the flower buds emerged (I didn’t know it was so advanced, and for the best).
The buds of Hepaticas from the garden seem to be unharmed as well.
Quite remarkable!

Germinatrix warmth

February 13th
Night temperature: -23˚C
Day temperature: -20˚C to -17˚C

I don’t feel like saying more…I checked to see if all the ‘youngsters’ and tubers hosted in the garage are still above zero degrees and then I took refuge under the growing lights.

The Primula parryi seedlings are also very cheerful at this time:

Primula parryi seedlings

Primula parryi seedlings

Primula parryi is considered the largest of the NA native primroses. It forms vigorous, large clumps in part-shade or even full sun locations of moist alpine and subalpine meadows. Leaves are particular, oblong-obovate to lanceolate and inflorescences rich, with magenta flowers .

Distribution: Ariz., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Utah, Wyo.; 2700-4200 m (Flora of NA).

One more image for warming up:

Primula parryi

Primula parryi




Out in the woods

“Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no”
      from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – W. Shakespeare

What else better on the weekend than a fast incursion into the woods, especially knowing that bad weather is expected this week? Mosses, lichens and various fungi provide so many colours at this time of year and we should appreciate them more.

This is the first time I found a scarlet cup mushroom, Sarcoscypha spp. (I think this one is an immature Scarlet pixie cup – S. occidentalis). It proves to be a most interesting and also ornamental genus with conspicuous fruiting bodies, brightly colored in red or yellow; they grow on dead wood, mostly on damp branches or twigs of hardwood trees, sometimes covered in moss, but not necessarily.
(you can read here the wiki stub if interested: Sarcoscypha)

Sarcoscypha occidentalis

Sarcoscypha occidentalis – Scarlet pixie cup

Because they are considered elf and fairies ‘cups’, although it was very tempting to bring the wood stick home with me, I was afraid of the wood’s queen fairy repercussions. I look fw to see it ‘grown up’ in early spring!

The lack of snow on the steeper hills also allowed for more Hepatica scouting :) and, as always, there is something new to find, like this Hepatica with extra lobed leaves, and nice violet reverse, which fits more into H. americana than H. acutiloba, but I have to do some careful measurements in the spring to tell for sure. As you can see, it has its own little space at the base of an old maple.

More wonderful clumps up the hill, looking as if they have not already been a couple of times under a carpet of snow; just one image with H. acutiloba.

Hepatica acutiloba

Hepatica acutiloba in habitat – February

There is indeed a need for more Hepaticas in our northern gardens!

And I couldn’t remain in the woods as it started to snow again; see you next time…

Open letter to US customers

Dear US customers,

This letter is in regard to the troubles we have been having with orders that are not accompanied by the APHIS-USDA ‘Small lot of seeds’ permit, despite the fact that the requirement is posted all over our website.

This regulation is not imposed by us and is nothing we can do about it, except of course, comply with it. We have been very understanding, helped many of you through all the necessary steps, and in most cases it went well.

In fact, obtaining the permit is free for you and all the work is on us; one US order takes double the amount of time to process because of all the required paperwork.

However, some continue to order without the permit and some get frustrated and upset when we refund their order. Did you know that every time we refund an order through PayPal, we lose a small percentage of it? For a small size company it adds up in time. Furthermore, I regret to say that common email courtesy is sometimes lacking from your messages.

As such, from now on we reserve the right to decline orders submitted by customers who fail to provide the permit and are disrespectful/abusive towards us.

Although I sat down to write this overdue letter because of a few customers, there have been far more numerous positive feedbacks, a motivation for us to continue shipping to US.

I will end quoting one person, which gives a good example of how we should best deal with the situation, that is, by making fun of it.

Message quote (with permission)
“Hi Gabriela,

Attached please find the awaited USDA labels for my order. These labels will allow you to abide by useless government regulation so that we may avoid a major international incident regarding the transport of this highly sensitive material.
Ted B.”

Thank you all.
Yours sincerely,
Gabriela @ BotanyCa

PS. Please feel free to share this letter on Facebook, as much as you like.

For all those interested, see our new page for USA – Ordering & Shipping.

PS.2 A note regarding the arrival of the seeds it is always very welcomed. It should preferably, look like this:

“Hello Gabriela,

My seeds arrived today in the envelope that was thoroughly inspected by USDA for explosives, nuclear radiation, and chocolates.
Everything looks fine. Thanks again.
Ted B.”

Wildlife Wednesday – February 2016

After I missed the last month’s wildlife meme hosted by Tina at her wonderful pollinator & wildlife friendly blog My gardener says, I got prepared one day in advance for this one! Spring is far, far away, so it is going to be mostly about birds for quite a while.

Of course, Tamiasciurus is doing well and says hello to all. It seems that winter has a slow-down effect on everyone – once in a while you can see her sitting still for just a few seconds.

American red squirrel

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

We have been having a weird, unusual winter with periods of alternating snow and rain. Usually is cloudy, and combined with the fact that I am taking the pictures from inside the house, contributes to ‘no so great’ pictures. In most cases I realized that I photographed a new visitor only after opening the images on the computer!

A nice feeder come in the form of a much appreciated gift :), and besides our regulars, the cardinal and house sparrows, new bird species have showed up. Some I admit to have identified with help from a more connoisseur person; it takes a while to have your eyes used to discerning all the details.
Early January was snowy and perfect to catch the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), displaying its beautiful feathery red costume on the white carpet. You wonder sometimes if he knows is being photographed by the pose he takes!


Northern cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis

I think the female cardinal, although in more toned down colours, is also very beautiful.

Cardinal female

Northern cardinal – female

New species (for me) were the House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), the Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus) and the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). I don’t know why the house finch male from the featured image was looking so upset on Monday; too crowded at the feeder?

I don’t think I would have had been able to ID the pine siskin without help (right and left of the house finch). Honestly, from the distance it seemed to me like yet another sparrow. They are very interesting birds. Apparently, every couple of years they make unpredictable movements called irruptions into southern and eastern North America. So you can have lots of them around for a few years, and then they can be completely absent in the next years. This seems to depend partly on the state of cone crops in northern North America.

They are gregarious birds and as their name suggests, have a fondness for the seeds of pines and other conifers like cedars, larch, hemlock and spruce. But they also feed on deciduous tree seeds and later will consume young buds of trees, soft stems and leaves of weeds and other plants. They also forage for insects, spiders, and grubs and are attracted by mineral deposits (including the winter road beds that are salted here to melt the snow and ice).

One last image, taken this past Sunday, is of the Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis). With the pointed, long beak and the conspicuous marking on the head, it wasn’t too hard to find its name. Or it means that I’m getting better at it? :)

RB nuthatch

Red- breasted Nuthatch – Sitta canadensis

They are described as “small, stubby tree climbers with strong, woodpecker-like bill, strong feet and short, square-cut tail, which habitually go down trees headfirst” – something I look fw to photographing one day!

Happy Wildlife Wednesday!