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.



Pink sunglasses

Winter is a black & white season in this part of the Northern Hemisphere. I patiently await for the invention of suitable glasses that would project on my retina sunny, flowery images all day long.

Meanwhile, I use my indoor light stand as an indoor garden. It is bright and I get to wear sunglasses that adjust to my desired colour*. Today I have chosen pink for Incarvillea (various species, all commonly called Incarvillea or hardy gloxinia).

Hardy gloxinia species belong to the so called ‘warm germinators’ (will germinate at room temp.). They are also easy to grow indoors and, like many other tuberous species, will benefit from an early start, having more time to develop a good size tuber by late spring when they can be planted outside. Some may even flower in the first year, like it happened with I. delavayi. I have already grown from seeds I. delavayi and I. zhongdianensis.

Incarvillea delavayi, a first year seedling flowering

Incarvillea zhongdianensis, a mature plant, not in my garden but I expect my first flowers this year :)

This year I am happy to start two other species: I. mairei and I. younghusbandii. These are smaller species height-wise, the second a real dwarf, but with larger deep pink/magenta flowers; this combination gives them an even more exotic look for our Northern Hemisphere gardens.

Incarvillea mairei, a relatively young plant

Looking at the world through pink sunglasses in late January is pretty amazing!
Then, there will be days for yellows, blues in many shades, purple, orange…

I. younghusbandii – click for google images.

*Such sunglasses of course, do not exist; except in my imagination.

Here’s a very, very short list of others ‘warm germinators’ that can be started early and will grow well under lights indoors.
Anthemis, Arisaema,
Astragalus, Anthyllis
Anthirrhinum, Iris*
Biscutella, Calycanthus
Oxytropis, Sanguisorba, Roscoea
Scabiosa, Hypericum, Physochlaina
Draba, Allysum
Campanula*, Dianthus*, Lilium*
Agastache, Primula*,
* not all

You may want to know….

also, see update from Feb.8

How the moist stored seeds of C. nobilis are looking at the moment. This is the first time I have ‘excess’ seeds and it is interesting to see how they ‘behave’.

The growth of the embryos has resulted in the expansion of the endosperm and splitting of the seed coat. This is not happening in many species and has been reported as well in Corydalis ambigua; I also noted it in Hydrastis canadensis last year (see below).

Corydalis nobilis seeds with enlarged endosperms (January – seeds in moist storage)


Hydrastis canadensis seeds with split seed coats by early January (germination in April)

These type of seeds, which have an undeveloped embryo when ripen, require warm stratification before embryo growth can occur in late autumn. The root emergence, followed shortly by the cotyledons, will happen then in early spring (somewhere in mid-March-April).

If I’m not wrong, that’s when I expect to see the ‘little lords’ showing up!

UPDATE – Feb.8

I was wrong! – by second week of February I spotted the first radicles!

Corydalis nobilis – germination start

It continues to be very gloomy here, so a bright and sunny picture will do us all good :) And, I repeat again because not many are mentioning; besides being very hardy and beautiful, the lord of the Corydalis is also fragrant!

Corydalis nobilis

Germination of Corydalis nobilis from dry seeds is so poor (not to call it non-existent), that’s not even worth trying it.

Friday’s Seeds – Asparagaceae

Keep up the pace!

Another benefit of organizing the seeds images after their respective family is that I get to update my files regarding changes that have been made. And there have been quite a few lately.
For example, Fam. Asparagaceae includes now many of the formerly Liliaceae genera such as Maianthemum and Polygonatum. Also Scilla, Hyacinthella, Muscari, Ornithogalum, together with Yucca, Agave and many others are now part of the largely expanded ‘Asparagus’ family ;)

Change can be hard but got to keep up the pace. Just a couple of Scilla and Ornithogalum species which are new for me.

Scilla rosenii

Scilla mischtschenkoana


Talking seeds, this is a good occasion to point out at my new website feature –
The SEEDS Library
! :)

Surprise, surprise! – Iris pumila

Growing from seeds is always full of surprises, especially for first time sowings, like in this case for Iris pumila.

Iris pumila – a dwarf, early spring flowering, bearded Iris with a wild distribution from Central Europe to the Caucasus. The large flowers can be violet, blue, purple, yellow, or in various combinations like it naturally happens in wild populations; it is super hardy and excellent for the rockery, or a sunny border.

For best germination, most sources suggest soaking the seeds and providing about 4 weeks warm and then a longer (few months) cold period. So, my plan was to keep the sowings the furnace room for 3-4 weeks (+/- 23C day/ 17C night) and then place the pots outside under snow for the remaining of the winter. I sowed on Dec. 19th – and a couple of days ago (Jan. 5)…surprise! I found some pots with the first shoots were out. The plan has changed of course, and my light stand will be up very soon :)

Iris pumila – seeds soaked, sown on Dec.19th at warm – first signs of germination Jan. 5th (few even sooner)

The pots contain seeds of differently coloured specimens, although this little Iris can provide even more surprises colour-wise!

I don’t know if the seeds will germinate in the same way after going into a deeper dormancy, but this is still a good time to sow – and few fresh seeds are still available in the shop!

A walk through the Finnerty Gardens

In the idea of opening the New Year with a colourful post, I will show a few images from a small but charming garden seen in Victoria (Vancouver Island).

The Finnerty Gardens, located on the grounds of Univ. of Victoria, came into being as a result of the Buchanan family estate donation to the university. At their property in Lake Cowichan, Mrs. J. Buchanan Simpson and her husband developed over the years a large collection of Rhododendrons, mostly grown from seeds; when it became impossible to manage the collection, Mrs. Buchanan made the right decision.

Although it is not a botanical garden, many species have signs with the names, and besides the large number of rhododendrons and azaleas, there are many other interesting plants displayed in an enchanting woodland atmosphere. Among most notable: a large Davidia involucrata tree, Magnolia species, Styrax japonicus, Michelia, Camellia, a stumpery with lots of ferns, and also native species of the region like Vancouveria hexandra and Dicentra formosa.

An absolutely delightful place, I hope the colors will make it up for the lack of sun – click to enter the gallery and enjoy the short walk!


Entrance is free, parking also free on the weekends.