Out in the woods

Sanguinaria capsules were not ready to collect as I thought, but  everything looks green and lush which is very good news after last year’s terrible drought. Medeola, Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Cornus rugosa and Viburnum acerifolium were flowering; Lonicera canadensis berries were beckoning in the filtered shade and Mitella seeds were ready, waiting in their little cups. About Mitella I knew because I have it in the garden ;)

Mitella diphylla – Two-leaved bishop’s mitre; combines beautifully with Uvularia (in the background), Trillium, Thalictrum dioicum, Hepatica and many other species which like part-shade locations.

It has been added on the Canada 150 Celebration list sale! 

Paris in the rain

Paris quadrifolia

Maybe there will be seeds again this year…

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.



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.


The Alien Invasion

You have perhaps guessed this is not the kind of invasion that H.G. Wells was talking about. It is about so-called ‘alien plants’ which manage to enter and invade, often as seeds, ‘territories’ where they not wanted and where they create havoc in the native plant communities.

Unidentified or wrongly identified seed species are often the cause; species sold as ornamentals and not assessed for their invasive potential; even souvenirs brought back from travels or gifts…

The latter is the reason of this post, which got to me second hand, from someone who received a gift card and pouch of ‘seeds’ of Orchis italica –  brought from La Rambla, a touristy market area in Barcelona, Spain. Note that there is the sign indicating – ‘airplane allowed’ (click on images to open the gallery).

This orchid species is endangered in some European countries, but seeds of cultivated origins are not prohibited. Opening the seed envelope came with a big surprise and even a moment of confusion. I knew in a way those were not orchid seeds, but I had a hard time accepting such blatant fake (yes, I still believe in honesty…).

After questions, guided links from SRGC forum, everything clearly pointed to fraud, and after more research, I can say most certainly that the seeds belong to a Persicaria species.

See a related link:

Which one?  Who knows, there are many species and quite a few of them are invasive, noxious weeds of the ‘alien’ kind. Luckily that many will only keep these sort of cards as keepsake.

Most probably a Persicaria spp. seeds – posing as Orchis

The BiCON regulation of the Australian and NZ governments, the no-no list of US and Canada, and other such systems put in place to deter such aliens, are highly justified.

If, and how well they work, this is another question!!!

From the cover of War of the Worlds – book by H.G. Wells – wikipedia :)

So, everyone beware of the aliens invasion! You can fight it too by ‘propagating’ this post through social media.


The Last Adventure

Not so long ago I was wishing Harvey Wrightman and his family all the best in their new adventure of relocating the Wrightman Alpine Nursery from Ontario to St. Andrews. With great sadness I found out yesterday that Harvey passed away.

His passion and skill to growing alpine plants from all over the world were absolutely unique, at least for the Canadian plant world. I will always remember the visits to their open-house nursery day, which were akin to the alpine gardens of renown Botanical Gardens.

We wish him farewell in this, alas, last adventure, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family which continues the alpine plants tradition. He will be greatly missed.

Images from the nursery and rock garden at the Ontario location and also plants grown by Harvey are shown below in few previous posts.

Alpine Golden Nuggets from Wrightman Nursery

And then there were the Saxifrages…

Wrightman Alpines Nursery – Hello to a New Adventure!


Fall interlude

I am not done inventory-ing; I got distracted. Colorful leaves, the shimmering light on grasses, mushrooms and green moss, clubmosses, red berries, the blue- crisp sky…you’ll understand what I mean.


Sassafras albidum – a ‘cool’ small tree with leaves in many shapes! All parts of the plant are spicy and aromatic.

Lindera benzoin (the Spicebush, wild allspice). It is  sometimes called ‘forsythia of the wilds’ because of its early spring yellow flowering which give a yellow tinge to the woods.  The leaves are aromatic and in the fall turn a most beautiful golden colour. The fruits are also aromatic and highly appreciated by birds. Fruits and foliage were used to prepare tea (leaves and twigs), and the fleshy part of the fruits was chopped and utilized as an allspice (hence the name).

Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) fruit heads and Schizachyrium scoparium


And, even if not great looking at this time of year, what an exciting find – Prosartes lanuginosa!   Yellow fairybells/mandarin, the only Prosartes species (formerly Disporum) which can be found growing wild in Ontario (rare).


Prosartes lanuginosa

And I’ll end the post the same it begun, with mushrooms, and a giant one, no less :)


Calvatia gigantea – Giant puffball


Test –Viola nephrophylla

A test post to see if the subscribers notification glitch, kindly ‘provided’ by the last Jetpack update has been fixed.

Yesterday, I found the little, large flowered Viola nephrophylla flowering – autumn denial or maybe just a test as well?


Viola nephrophylla – Northern bog violet

This North American Viola, commonly called Northern bog violet, not only that is very easy to grow but also adapts splendid to garden cultivation, in a moist place; you don’t really need to have a bog.

Where’s the Snow White?

This Scabiosa caucasica (grown from seeds) was supposed to be the Snow White, ie. Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama White’.


Scabiosa caucasica – best called just ‘Fama’

Because the mother-plant grew close to a ‘Fama Blue’ last year, of course there was a chance of ‘mixed’ off-springs or the reverse to the wild type (I warned everyone). In any case, the bluish to lavender flowers with a silvery overlay are spectacular! A bit late start of flowering because I planted the seedlings very late. However, note that this is a plant started from seeds this year, in late February!

As it happens, the dwarf of the genus, Scabiosa silenifolia, is also flowering, and as well off-time. All these pincushion flowers for the delight of the pollinators!


Scabiosa silenifolia

Awaiting for the hummingbird

September Wildlife Wednesday

September – the hummers are more visible and feeding more often trying to fatten up before the flight back to their winter homes. Although they are ‘punctual’ for their meals they are hard to catch on camera though; it seems they are picky on the daily menu: Hibiscus, Delphinium, Kniphofia, Phlox…. They are fun to watch but so frustrating to photograph!

In waiting for the hummingbird, I will show first more pictures of swallowtails and the hummingbird moth, all captured while feeding one afternoon on Vernonia – Ironweed (probably V. noveboracensis). It was quite crowded! I don’t have this plant in the garden, so it is on top of my wish list (there are seeds, no worry… :)


Giant swallowtail – Papilio cresphontes; said to be the largest butterfly found in Canada


Eastern black swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes (there are a few subspecies, but let’s not go into details here)

The Hummingbird clearwing moth behaves like the hummingbirds, showing around the garden at the same time for the feeding. According with wiki, this moth is considered to be a hummingbird mimic and is frequently mistaken for it! It collects nectar from a variety of species, using a long proboscis. I’ve also seen it on Phlox and Monarda, and it seems to prefer purple and red flowers.


Hummingbird clearwing – Hemaris thysbe

And since we’ve waited for the hummingbird, here it is my best shot taken yesterday just by pure chance. The female of the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris) or Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), I cannot tell for sure; feeding on a Delphinium.


As always, there is much more to read and many beautiful pictures with birds and other pollinators for this Wildlife Wednesday meme, at Tina’s wildlife friendly Blog!