Summer Gentians

I won’t say much about these summer gentians, except that they are blue and flower from mid to late summer. Everything else is just details; and we all need a short break from them… ;)

Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana – Summer or crested gentian

Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana

Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana

Gentiana cachemirica

Gentiana cachemirica

Gentiana cachemirica – it is a sprawling gentian; the foliage in front of the flower bud belongs to Campanula circassica; I will update the post with a fully open flower.


Gentiana cachemirica - flower open

Gentiana cachemirica opened

The year of the thistle – update

At the beginning the year I declared 2016 as The Year of the Thistle, including in this category besides the ‘true thistles’ (Cirsium, Carduus and Onopordum), other genera that don’t have spiny leaves/or are commonly called thistles (Jurinea, Centaurea, Carthamus, Carlina, Rhaponticum, Echinops…).
I wasn’t joking. Some of the new tried out species are doing fine and are already planted out – Berkheya, Jurinea sordida, Carlina acaulis. Probably Centaurea triumfettii would have also flowered if not transplanted too late.

But, another one, a true thistle is flowering! Cirsium canum, in its second year from seeds, proves out to be a most wonderful plant. Everything, from the silvery, bold foliage to the neat, globular flower buds and the soft flower heads continuously foraged by some pollinator – it’s just perfect!

Cirsium canum foliage

Cirsium canum – An architectural thistle with silver-green foliage and purple flowers from late summer to fall; it will remain in a clump and therefore it can be safely grown in the garden for the delight of the pollinators :)

I wish I had more seedlings! A full sun position suits it very well. In the wild habitat it grows in somehow moist meadows and I think it would like a bit more moisture than it has, but it has fared well so far with very little watering.

Cirsium canum flower head

Cirsium canum flower head

There are so many more such species to try…


Amidst the continuing heat, humidity and drought there is a general confusion. Some woodland species don’t know what to do better than aborting their fruits while others, like Actaea rubra, are in a hurry to have them ready so they can go to ‘sleep’.

Actaea rubra fruits

Actaea rubra fruits

In the garden, while collecting seeds of Cortusa matthioli very early in the morning, I noticed a new, fuzzy flower stem rising up from among the leaves.

Cortusa matthioli

Cortusa matthioli flowering again

As well, Aconitum ‘Ivorine’ shows a split personality, one trying to keep flowering, and one wanting to mature its fruits… Meanwhile, a Consolida ajacis decided to play tricks on me and flowered in a new, pale pink colour (in the header image); a nice addition to the blue form, already in the garden.

Aconitum septentrionale 'Ivorine'

Aconitum septentrionale ‘Ivorine’

And what is this tall and fragrant, tag-less Primula doing here in the middle of July? Wait a minute, I remember, it is Primula florindae – a late flowering species. Why do I grow the Giant Himalayan cowslip which needs a lot of water? I am confused.

Primula florindae

Primula florindae

One thing they have in common though – and there’s no confusion about that – they are all easily grown from  seeds.

(*Aconitum – seeds fresh or kept moist)

American lotus

Nelumbo lutea

A bit of a surprise – there is a lotus that grows wild in Ontario! It is found only towards the extreme southern part of the province, and according to wiki it was introduced in various regions by the Native Americans who carried it along with them as a food source (the tuber). It is fully hardy to zone 5, as long as the water is deep enough and the roots won’t freeze.

Nelumbo lutea foliage

Nelumbo lutea foliage; yellow flowers in late summer

In warmer regions it is quite a colonizer and also called water-chinquapin. Supposedly, it is the largest native wildflower, at least in wetlands, its leaves reaching more than 60 cm in diameter! The seeds are surely among the largest too!

Nelumbo lutea seeds

Nelumbo lutea seeds – 1 mm grid

I cannot abstain from trying to germinate a couple of these seeds. They need to be scarified or nicked and should germinate in water after +/- 2 weeks. For scarification you can use sandpaper or, for large seeds like these, a file. When scarifying the question is always – how much of the seed coat should be removed? It varies from species to species but the general rule is: ‘less is more’. When done well, the seeds will slightly enlarge in a few days; if not, they can be easily scarified some more.

I am sure everyone knows that lotus seeds can remain viable for several decades, given their extremely hard seed coats, so most probably I didn’t file them enough. My short nails, have gotten even shorter.

UPDATE – July 20, the seedlings were planted :)