October Newsletter

October arrived in Southern Ontario with the first night below zero temperature. It is not unusual and none of the perennials were damaged. Back to sunshine with 25° C today!

However, the more than unusual heat wave that blessed us at the end of September made it necessary to spend all afternoons watering the newly planted and the seedlings; watering with the hose gives one plenty of time for meditation….

Looking more closely I noticed that Centaurea salonitana was flowering leaning on a nearby Salvia! Quite exciting because this Centaurea has a pontic, sub-mediterreanean distribution: SE Romania (Dobrogea), Bulgaria, Greece to Russian (Crimea) where it grows in xeric habitats.  A nice addition to my ‘thistle-like’ plants collection and a consolation for losing Jurinea sordida after heavy rains this spring.

Centaurea salonitana

Another perennial not bothered by the high/low temperatures is  the truly ‘perpetually flowering’ Pseudofumaria lutea (Corydalis lutea); still going strong and it will do so until the first hard frost arrives (please ignore the word ‘ hard frost’). For those in love with Corydalis, nothing is much easier and satisfying than growing Psedofumaria species, formerly part of Corydalis. They will reseed around but is very easy to remove the ‘unwanted’.

A Pseudofumaria alba seedling of this year, also decided suddenly its time has come and started flowering.

Pseudofumaria lutea flowering right now

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’ deserves a special note in this edition. First, I would like to announce for those who don’t already know that Snow White has been found — it was right under my nose (for explanation please read: Where’s the Snow White?).

Thanks to my bad habit of planting seedlings in bunches, the blue and white flowered varieties, ‘Fama Blue’ and ‘Fama White’ were mixed together in the same clump; last year only the blue variety flowered, and not in the deep blue shade of ‘Fama Blue’. The light bluish/lavender obtained in many cases are characteristic of the species (Scabiosa caucasica).

Regardless of the colour, after seeing it performing in my garden, I say Scabiosa caucasica is a truly outstanding perennial for many reasons. Most important, the extremely long flowering period (well into November and December!). Also, very easy to grow from seeds.

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’ – December 10, 2016

Many thanks to Robert Pavlis for providing the initial seeds from Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama White’ and ‘Fama Blue’.  They are offered now simply as ‘Fama’.

Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama’

Scabiosa caucasica seeds heads

SAD NEWS

Under Sad news, the end of September has marked the passing of Prof. Norman C. Deno.
Well known for his work on deciphering the seed’s secrets and his widely available book “Seed germination, theory and practice”, which is still used as a reference by gardeners, growers and researchers, all over the world. You can read the obituary posted on the NARGS website.
He will be remembered.

SEEDS TALKING

The seed stock has been refreshed for many species; new ones have been added, and more are still to come. I think Amphicarpaea, Symplocarpus (skunk cabbage) and few more will be ready to collect soon (fingers crossed for Gentiana andrewsii).

Newly added to Canada 150 Celebration Sale category in September was Spigelia marilandica. I am happy that thanks to a patient friend there are more seeds available of this woodland gem. It is not the sort of perennial that flowers and increases much in the first couple of years, but it is worth the wait. In the picture is a 2 year-old plant re-flowering in my garden right now. Alas, the hummingbirds are gone…

Spigelia marilandica, Indian pink

 

It’s not easy to add new native species to the list when not traveling outside Ontario, so I was pleased to find and collect a few from Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf) and Rhododendron groenlandicum (syn. Ledum, Bog Labrador tea). I hope someone will give them a try. You don’t really have to slog into a bog to find the Bog labrador tea, so there are more opportunities to grow it in the garden.

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Rhododendron groenlandicum

Those interested may also like to know that Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush) and Prosartes lanuginosa moist packed seeds are now available. The nr. seeds/pck. has been increased for Lindera, giving a better chance to obtain a good ratio of female/male plants.

My Lindera seedlings have put up quite a nice growth in their first year; ready to be planted in the garden! A few will be shared, I don’t need that many. Keep in mind when choosing the pot size for sowing, that you can count on 99% germination (moist stored seeds).

Lindera benzoin one-year old seedlings

The ‘babies’ Prosartes were excused not being very photogenic at this time (slugs attack).

SEEDS EXCHANGES

Saying goes that people don’t like reading long posts on blogs, so I should better end; just few more lines about the Seed exchanges (on short Seedex).

October is the time to donate seeds to the exchanges organized by various plant societies. This much anticipated event is in the benefit of the Societies and their members alike, so please think about sharing some seeds (of properly identified species). I presume that those reading this newsletter already belong to a Society or two, but if you need ideas I recommend the ones where I donate (click for the links):
Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plants Society
and the larger than life – Scottish Rock Garden Society
Details about the Seedex can be found on their websites.

I will tell you a secret – it is not just about the few seeds that arrive in small packets. At a time when I had absolutely no possibilities to grow plants from seeds, I used to browse the Seedex lists just for the delight of seeing what species were offered.  I’m sure others did/do the same thinking: Oh! I hope to grow that one day or, I used to grow it, how nice it was…

Yes, plant geeks engage in weird readings ;) I hope these Seedex lists will always be available for those in need, either for sowing or the read!

My best regards and many thanks to all – enjoy the beauty of fall!
Gabriela

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