Friday’s Seeds – Tiger Iris

A few new Iris seeds from the rare side, so pictures are warranted. Despite its name, Iris tigridia (common name Tiger iris) is a completely harmless iris ;) hailing from the Altai region of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Not an easy one, but extremely beautiful dwarf iris with blue streaked petals.

Images in wild habitat: Iris tigridia

Iris tigridia seeds

Iris potaninii, similar in habit (and distribution), has light to deep yellow flowers. As well from dry, rocky mountain slopes.

Images in wild habitat: Iris potaninii

Iris potaninii seeds

They both belong to the group of arillate Irises; I will update this post later with soaked seeds images to better observe the arils.


Snowflakes by design: Mitella diphylla

Myriads of Mitella diphylla flowers are still falling from the sky. I noticed that not too many people are familiar with this dainty North American woodlander; what a pity…

It can be found in deciduous woodlands in part shaded areas, most often at the edges of the forest; easily noticeable despite its small flowers, it will flower somewhere at the beginning of May. A better timetable is to consider that it flowers at the same time with Trillium grandiflorum, Uvularia grandiflora and Coptis trifolia.

Mitella diphylla, Two-leaved bishop’s cap (Fam. Saxifragaceae) – Tall flowering stems carrying small, fringed, snowflakes shaped flowers above a pair of leaves. Fruits are dehiscent capsules with many small, black seeds.

Mitella is not an easy subject to capture on camera

What I like even more about it is that the basal leaves are evergreen; a most useful character in our climate with long flowerless periods. I cannot take a picture in the garden right now, but I have one from the previous garden showing it together with Cyclamen hederifolium and Hepatica in late November.

Mitella diphylla, Cyclamen and Hepatica foliage in November

Propagation: easy from seeds (sown in the fall) and mine has started to flower in the third year. After it gets established it can also be divided (it forms a rather tight clump so there is no worry about potential invasiveness).

Mitella diphylla seeds

The genus name Mitella comes from the Greek ‘mitra’= cap and the common name bishop’s cap or mitrewort refers to the cap-shaped fruit.

Friday’s Seed- Matthiola fragrans

Today I present the seeds of an interesting Matthiola: M. fragrans. It grows wild in steppe regions from Ukraine to E. Kazakhstan, sometimes on chalky sediments. The flowers are reddish-brown or yellowish, similar of another nice but rarely cultivated Matthiola, M. trojana.

Matthiola fragrans seeds (Fam. Brassicaceae)

The seedlings seem to do well, already developed the indumentum; it will be interesting to see how they’ll adapt later /if to garden conditions. I like the challenge.

Matthiola fragrans seedlings


Certainty: Helleborus germination

Among the few life’s certainties ;), at this time of year there is also the Helleborus germination.

I only started to grow them from seeds a few years ago after I found a few seeds left on a Helleborus purpurascens specimen from the Carpathian Mts.; pure luck. Some of those seeds were swapped for other Helleborus x hybridus, H. foetidus and H. niger (some already planted in the garden and ready to flower).

Newly sown this year: H. x hybridus – a red picotee form.

Helleborus x hybridus seedlings

Invariable, if sown by late July/August, they all start to germinate by late February-March (kept in a frost free garage and brought indoors). The hybrids are very fast growing and easy to manage; some species, like H. purpurascens, may be slower to develop.

Helleborus purpurascens newly emerged leaf

In any case, the variation of forms obtained from seeds is unattainable otherwise, and the first flowers can be expected in the third year.

Helleborus x hybridus 2 year-old plants last summer


Wildlife Wednesday – horror and surprise

It’s been a while since I joined the Wildlife meme hosted by Tina at her lovely blog: My gardener says. As the saying goes – winter happened…

Finally last week in a midst of a ‘heat wave’ :) I was able to open my cold frames. They host a variety of small pots mainly with young seedlings and sowings; all wrapped in blankets, plastic, plus outside tarps, and mostly under snow (which is a good thing). It was a joyous moment to see that most were well, even a few new seedlings!

Then, unexpectedly, a slug started to crawl on the green tarp; horror and surprise! I didn’t know the temperature inside the frames would allow them to be active at this time. More than this, the very dry last summer/fall made the slugs rare/almost nonexistent in the garden.

Limax maximus probably

I am sure all gardeners are familiar with these pesky, horrible ‘things’. This one, if I’m not mistaken, is a Limax maximus (still juvenile); as the name says it can get very large. It resembles the European black slug, or black arion  (Arion ater L.) but the latter hasn’t been reported from Ontario (yet). Probably everyone knows that slugs are hermaphroditic – they have both male and female reproductive organs; and some are self-fertilizing, so one slug can start a population!!!

I know that even the slugs have a positive role in the environment, but I cannot allow my fresh seedlings to be destroyed. So, I apologize that my first posting of the year for the Wildlife Wednesday coincides with the first killing of the year. I hope to have nicest wildlife pictures for the month of April.



Paronychia cephalotes’ secret

I am wondering why this interesting, cold hardy, beautiful and excellent rockery plant is absolutely ignored. Is there a secret?

Paronychia cephalotes (Fam. Caryophyllaceae) in wild habitat – Dolomite hills to the south of Öskü, Hungary – photo courtesy Stefan Lefnaer

Last year I easily germinated seeds and grew the seedlings into a fine clump by the end of the season (the seedlings pot was planted in the rockery as a whole in May). I am confident it will make it well over the winter, and maybe even produce a few flowers. Meanwhile, someone else already knows why is it such a ‘secret’ species please?

Paronychia cephalotes – end of August 2016 (a group of seedlings were planted together in May);name=Paronychia%20cephalotes

Friday’s Seeds – Papaveraceae

Back to seeds, and just a few here from the last published seed gallery.

Many of the species of Papaveraceae family present seeds with elaiosomes, a well-known adaptation to ant dispersal (myrmechory). In the general term ‘elaiosomes’ are included various seed appendages rich in lipids (with oleic acid as the main component), amino acids, carbohydrates and vitamins.

These appendages are often very beautiful and interesting. Problem is, you have to be fast in admiration because few days after dispersal/collecting (whichever comes first ;-) they will ‘shrink’ or simply ‘disappear’. This applies as well for the seeds which are kept in moist storage for later sowing/sales (keeping these species as dry seeds is strongly NOT recommended).

Stylophorum diphyllum, one of my favourites, with ‘mohawk-style’ elaiosomes (insert with seeds in moist storage).

Stylophorum diphyllum

Stylophorum lasiocarpum – with a different ‘hair’ style.

Stylophorum lasiocarpum

Corydalis solida – displays  ‘leaf shaped’ elaiosomes.

Corydalis solida

Dicentra cucullaria – a hard one to catch and the elaiosomes fade very fast.

Dicentra cucullaria

And, I cannot forget the Sanguinaria: ‘little snails’ trying to get away :)

Sanguinaria canadensis


More on the Papaveraceae seed gallery.



All over again

The first Arisaema of the season – in love all over again… 

Arisaema fargesii seedling


Through the looking-glass: Montreal Botanical Garden

Every time I visit a Botanical Garden, it feels like stepping into a parallel world full of wonders. Montreal Botanical Garden especially felt like the Garden of Live Flowers. Did the flowers think that I was one of them? I don’t know, but let’s see what’s on the other side of the mirror.

Maybe not enough time to do a full exploration, but we can always return for more ;-) There are 10 exhibition greenhouses and about 30 thematic outdoor gardens!!!
Link to – Montreal Botanical Garden

Very short, I have to mention that MBG came into being in 1931 through the efforts and vision of botanist Frѐre Marie Victorin, which practically dedicated his life to this garden. Rightly so, today he welcomes all visitors at the entrance.
In the pictures: Frere Marie Victorin, and second, an archive image with him and the garden’s designer, Henry Teuscher (1936) – please click to open the full size images in the gallery.

Because it is cold, snowy and I had a bad cold, there is no other place I’d rather be right now than the Rainforest section of the Conservatory where it is warm and humid, and epiphytic plants and lianas are draping over the skilfully built ‘cork trees’.

Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse at Montreal Botanical Garden

Before starting to admire the multitude of species growing here, it’s good to note how much effort went into creating an environment that mimics very well the wild habitats of the displayed species, in this case many epiphytic bromeliaceae, Tillandsia, various  aroids, Orchids, Maranthaceae, Zingiberaceae and Nepenthaceae.

Aechmea gamosepala and Vriesea sucrei from Brasil

As you can see from the close-up image, pieces of cork (bark of Quercus suber, I think) were skillfully arranged and tied over ‘skeletons’ of trees (made from metallic tubes). In this way, were created various levels on which species from many parts of the world could coexist harmoniously according with their light requirements.

As well, panels with the same cork supporting epiphytic Tillandsia and orchid species hanged around the sides of the greenhouse and helped to achieve a tri-dimensional look of the indoor forest.

Tillandsia andreana (Colombia)

And a bit more :)



On the mend – Rhododendron caucasicum

I spent the last week coughing out my lungs while entranced in computer/website related problems – an awful combination ;(
Today, I found the first tiny seedlings of Rhododendron caucasicum waiting for me under the lights – it was a very cheering image!!!
It feels like things are on the mend…

Rhododendron caucasicum first seedlings

Germination: at warm/room temperature (sowing in Jan.18th – first germinated seeds spotted Feb.4th); superficial sowing.

Rhododendron caucasicum (Georgian snow rose) is a most beautiful, evergreen rhododendron, with white or pinkish large flowers; it is found in alpine habitats, of the Caucasus of course. Besides being a beautiful plant, it also has, allegedly, medicinal properties (like other Rhoddendron spp.).

Rhododendron caucasicum in wild habitat (Dombay, Karachay-Cherkessia)

Google link to see flowers images and more – Rhododendron caucasicum.