New seeds for 2018!

Saying goes I should be more proactive with the shop announces so here they are – Latest additions to the shop, and more to come…
Hover the mouse over the pictures for the names or click to open the gallery.

Winter getaway – Dobrogea II

Continuing the Dobrogea I with other species which call this particular and beautiful region home.
I hope you already got a taste of it; this should make it easier when growing some of these species from seeds and also help selecting the garden location.

First a mention for two endemic species:

Campanula romanica:

Campanula romanica growing on a lichen covered rock outcrop, North Dobrogea, Romania

Centaurea jankae: a species with few populations known only to exist in Romania and Bulgaria. Good luck (and broken stems by wind/animals) made it to find a few late flowers to photograph.

Centaurea jankae

Remembering the sunny days of past summer, the flowers, the rocks and wildlife:

Stachys atherocalyx, very similar with Stachys recta that I offered seeds from Carpathian Mts.

Stachys atherocalyx

Hedysarum grandiflorum, as well just one late flowering stem was waiting to be immortalized :)

Hedysarum grandiflorum

Hedysarum grandiflorum habitat

Convolvulus cantabrica, perfect in a rockery and probably hardy in our area (Ontario) with reliable snow covered. I have a two-year old Convolvulus tragacanthodes growing in the rockery, we’ll see how it comes out from this winter.

Convolvulus cantabrica in wild habitat

Iberis saxatilis, you have to imagine it covered in white flowers in the spring :)

Iberis saxatilis

Cephalaria uralensis

Cephalaria uralensis

The Dobrogean tortuga for a variation

Dobrogean tortuga, Testudo graeca

Thymus zygioides, found growing in the company of Paronychia cephalotes

Thymus zygioides

One more view from Macin Mts.

And a little lizard (Lacerta) basking in the sun

There were many other species of course; more to follow when the next wave of arctic air hits us!


Hurry up!

As it happens, I got to greet the New Year by counting seeds to prepare an order; maybe it’s a good omen :)

After Christmas I noticed the first sprouts on Helleborus caucasicus. They already got a bit more advanced, so this is the last call, in case someone wants to give them a try.

Helleborus caucasicus germinated seeds; they were placed in moist storage in mid October.

Among all other moist packed seeds, some, like Stylophorum, Claytonia, Sanguinaria… are more predictable but I don’t know how well/long the left over seeds of Jeffersonia diphylla and Aconitum ‘Ivorine’ will last.

Hurry up while not too late!

Happy New Year!

As the saying goes, gardeners are optimistic people by nature – they always look forward to better weather in the next year, better growth & flowering, better germination…
I know no other better way to spend the time separating the old from the New Year than sowing and tending to the seedlings (the ones I keep in the garage).
There is the looking back –

Hepatica americana #1


Podophyllum pleianthum x versipelle


And looking forward!

Hepatica americana #1 germinated seeds

Podophyllum pleianthum x versipelle with bud for new year :)

I wish you all a great gardening season in 2018!
 Beautiful seedlings, flowers and new places to explore!


Winter getaway – Dobrogea I

Well, the trip interruption was a bit longer that I would have wished, but here we are on the road again (see first part of the trip here). In order to beat the polar vortex that descended upon us we need sun & flowers!

As I said, the drive from Southeastern Carpathians to Dobrogea region is not very long, depending on the destination it can take 4-5 hours. The Dobrogea region (with Dobrogea Plateau) in Romania is surrounded to the north and west by the Danube River and to the east by the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. Most visitors are aiming for the Black Sea sand beaches, bird watching and/or fishing in the Danube Delta, and very few aim to enjoy the particular flora of the region.

Given its position, the climate is slightly warmer and more arid than in the rest of Romania, winters are cold but with less snow and the flora is very specific with a combination of endemic plants and various species at their geographical limits. It is a special ‘meeting’ place for species of Mediterranean, Eurasian and even Caucasian origin!

Even if in late July it is very hot and dry and many species are at the end of flowering, there is still a lot to explore. I will start with a few Caryophyllaceae to keep the continuity and then show various other species.

Dianthus nardiformis is an endemic of this region and luckily being a late flowering species it was still very showy; photographed on the dry, exposed, rocky hills of Enisala fortress and everywhere else. Striking especially when dispayed against the lichens laden rocks.
Cultivated for a long time, this Dianthus makes for a good garden plant, although not as tidy (foliage speaking) as other species, but extremely floriferous, hardy and long lived. There is an impressive specimen at Montreal Botanical Garden to testify it.

Dianthus nardiformis

On the same dry, rocky hills surrounding Enisala fortress, it was a nice surprise to find Paronychia cephalotes. I have a young plant grown from seeds of Crimean accession in the rockery, and I look forward to see it flowering. However, seeing a species ‘perform’ in the wild is always much better!
It is a mat forming species with white, papery bracts posing as ‘flowers’. It is hard to think it belongs to Caryophyllaceae at a superficial look.

Paronychia cephalotes and Thymus zygioides, Dobrogea July 2017

From the neglected genus Minuartia, I will note Minuartia adenotricha, a species that you will also found on the other side of the Black Sea, on the Crimean mountains.

Minuartia adenotricha, Dobrogea 2017

Gypsophila pallasii is a similar species with G. glomerata offered in the seeds shop (as well of Crimean origin); doing very well on the dry, rocky substrate in the company of Echinops, Artemisia, Xeranthemum, Astragalus, Allium ssp. and many others.

Gypsophila pallasii at Capul Dolosman, Dobrogea 2017

A must have stop for plant lovers in Dobrogea are the Macin Mountains located in Tulcea County. These are among the oldest mountains in Europe, formed during the Hercynian orogeny with the predominant rock – granite, but also sandstone limestone. Their specific look is given by the eroded granite formations.
Although a very, very long time ago these mountains were taller than the Carpathians; today the highest point is Ţuţuiatu/Greci Peak with an elevation of 467 m above sea level.

Macin Mts., Dobrogea, Romania

In the quite dry-looking landscape of late July, Silene compacta stood apart with its rich magenta inflorescences. It is not difficult to assume that full sun locations and super good drainage would be mandatory for its successful cultivation. 

Silene compacta in Macin Mts.

Many other interesting species grow in the particular habitats of the Dobrogean plateau – I will follow with more pictures.



All Violas in one place

To finalize the query about the new Viola I was talking last week, pictures of seeds were taken (more detailed than usual): size, surface, colour, aril size and aspect are all useful characters for identification.

Viola cf. declinata seeds

Unfortunately, not having a term of comparison the identity is still uncertain. So, until I grow a few plants it will be offered as Viola cf. declinata.

While at it, why not see about other Viola spp. seeds? And, of course, why not have a Violaceae page in the Seeds Library? Have a look and notice the subtle differences between Viola renifolia and Viola macloskeyi seeds (these two native species are a bit hard to differentiate).

And how about a Viola category in the seeds shop? :)) On this occasion, I ‘discovered’ I forgot to add the Viola pubescens, as well as Viola jooi seeds to the inventory.

It’s so good to have everything in one place!

Back to normal and a Viola

The Seeds Shop activity is back to normal; special thanks to those who placed orders and waited patiently!

About the Viola

Last day in the Carpathian Mts. this summer was dedicated to revisiting a special place, no seeds collecting in mind, just pure enjoyment of the scenery.
Going up a narrow rock ravine to join a narrow terrace grass trail (known as “brâna”) I snapped a few pictures, which included a Viola and then kept going. On the return, I stopped to collect Aquilegia nigricans seeds and also took on the fly some from the mentioned Viola thinking it would be nice to grow it in the garden together with Polygala vulgaris, like in nature.

Viola cf. declinata, and Polygala vulgaris – Bucegi Massif, August 2017

I didn’t know on the spot which species it was, so I should have taken proper pictures for ID. But we know about ‘should and would’….
Taking into consideration the site, flowering period and flora of the region, it is very probably to be Viola declinata.
Another option is Viola tricolor subsp. saxatilis (syn. subsp. subalpina).

Close up pictures of the seeds may have a final say on this; or not…To follow…

*Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ and Gentiana cruciata seeds were added to the inventory.

Winter getaway – Caryophyllaceae part I

Follow-up to Friday’s seeds – let’s go up the mountains and then travel to the Dobrogea region (close to the Black Sea, Romania) to see a few Caryophyllaceae.

I’ll start with Arenaria; yes, usually not overly ornamental plants but easy to please and cheerful when in flower. Arenaria ciliata shown below; another Arenaria found at high altitude is A. biflora.

Arenaria ciliata at about 1100 m alt.

Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum, the alpine mouse-ear, can be found at alpine level in quite a few mountain ranges, not only in the Carpathians; it grows on rock crevices, nooks formed between boulders, also on stabilized rock screes and alpine meadows. It is quite adaptable and the woolly foliage makes a nice addition to the large, white flowers; something good to try for any ‘not that advanced’ rock gardener (myself included).

Depending on the traveling time, there are always various Dianthus species to admire from the alpine level to the foothills of the mountain, like D. petraeus, D. tenuifolius, D. carthusianorum and D. glacialis, to mention just a few. Over the years I’ve presented and offered seeds of some of them, except D. glacialis.

Dianthus glacialis

Gypsophila petraea, a cushion forming alpine baby-breath, endemic for Carpathian Mts. usually grows on conglomerate boulders and crevices on the rock walls; often in localized areas. Excellent species for rock gardens and not difficult to grow based on from my previous experience; unfortunately, most of the capsules were immature and I found very few seeds.

Gypsophila petraea; in the image below with Asperula

Moehringia is an overlooked genus in my opinion. I like Moehringia muscosa for its fine texture and although I didn’t have a shaded rock crevice to offer, it did quite well this summer in my garden in a less than favourable position (‘protected’ by Primula sieboldii). The picture in the wild was taken in Barsei Massif (also part of Carpathian Mts.).

Quite a few Minuartia species grow at alpine level and lower; among them, Minuartia verna, the spring sandwort is a rewarding, easy to grow species so don’t be shy to give it a try.

Two cushion forming species of Minuartia from the Bucegi Mts. would be worth having in a rockery: Minuartia recurva and Minuartia sedoides. Especially M. sedoides looks similar to Silene acaulis, but of course that the flowers, when present, signal the different genus. Sometimes they grow interlaced with one another and it is even harder to distinguish them.
One year I must make a special effort and collect seeds of these species.

Minuartia sedoides with yellowish flowers, Silene acaulis and rosettes of Primula minima

Minuartia recurva

I previously showed and probably everyone knows Silene acaulis (first image in the gallery). I’ve also shown with other occasion the cute Silene pusilla (now growing in my garden as well :), so please browse through the gallery to get an idea of the habitats these species are growing in (click to open full size images).

Most pictures are from the Bucegi plateau (alpine level). The ‘green’ boulders’ composed of Silene acaulis, Minuartia and other cushion species, which punctuate the barren rocky areas, are in fact small plant communities.  The cushion-type plants are colonizers of these harsh habitats on rapidly draining rocky/sandy soils, and thus very important as pioneers for the installation of other alpine species.

Here’s one more good example with Minuartia sedoides and Primula minima taking good roots in the partly decomposed cushion.

Minuartia sedoides with Primula minima

I didn’t mention Sagina, Scleranthus and probably few others but it’s time to come down the mountain. From the South-Eastern Carpathian Mts. to Dobrogea region there is about a 4 hour drive; it won’t take long to get there – stay tuned…

Friday’s Seeds – more Caryophyllaceae

A few images recently added to the Caryophyllaceae page on the Seeds Library all species collected this summer in the Carpathian Mts. and Dobrogea region, Romania.
In general, species from Caryophyllaceae family are easy to grow from seeds and some (for example,  think Dianthus, Silene) may even flower in the first year.

Pictures with various Caryophyllaceae showing the habitats they grow in, will follow this weekend. Stay tuned, I’ve prepared many pictures – the time for winter getaways has come!


Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum- alpine mouse-ear

Gypsophila petraea


Silene compacta



Easy species to grow from seeds – Edraianthus graminifolius

I’ve started to put together a list with species easy to grow from seeds as a way to provide info and encouragement to those who are at the beginning of their seeds adventures. The list will see additions as we go and every update will also include a plant portrait.

Let’s begin with Edraianthus graminifolius; yeah, I am not starting with A, just because I don’t feel like it :)

Edraianthus graminifolius – grassy bells belongs to the Campanula family and like its name suggests, has linear, grassy-looking leaves and large, blue flowers, in terminal clusters in May-June. The foliage remains tight and low at about 15 cm but the flowering stems are spreading/trailing so it needs its space ;)
An absolutely delightful and easy going plant, as long as grown in full sun/well drained locations. You don’t really need a rock garden for it; just keep in mind its growth habit and place it in a suitable spot.

Edraianthus graminifolius in June

Edraianthus graminifolius and another easy going, the silvery/pubescent – Hieracium lanatum

Growing for the first time from seeds, or just want something fast and easy? Try something from the list below. ‘Easy to grow from seeds’ means:
– easy to germinate & in large percentage
– seedlings that aren’t fussy to grow
– also, easy going plants in the garden, as long as provided with the required conditions.

I will avoid the so called two-stage germinators (although all you have to do is wait) or others that I never germinate/grow myself, species with naturally low germination rates, cases where the seedlings need special care or the ones I’m not quite sure about.

Easy species to grow from seeds from BotanyCa 2017 Seed list (list to be updated; other species not available currently  will be included)
Updates highlighted in green

Aquilegia bertolonii, A. canadensis and all others
Anemone multifida var. saxicola
Anthemis carpatica
Arisaema triphyllum
Arisaema flavum
Asarum canadense (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asarum europaeum (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asphodeline lutea
Berkheya purpurea
Calycanthus floridus
Centaurea triumfettii
C. orientalis, and other Centaurea spp.
Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum
Cirsium canum

Corydalis lutea (moist kept seeds)
Corydalis solida (when sown right away or moist kept seeds)
Clematis integrifolia

Dianthus nardiformis
Dianthus superbus ssp. sajanensis, other Dianthus spp.
Edraianthus graminifolius
Erinus alpinus

Gentiana cruciata
Gentiana dahurica
G. tibetica, other spp. from Cruciata section
Geum triflorum. other Geum spp.
Gypsophila species

Hieracium lanatum

Iris dichotoma
Jurinea mollis
Lathyrus vernus
Lilium formosanum var.pricei
Lychnis ssp.
Lupinus bicolor

Mimulus spp.
Papaver alpinum
Paronychia cephalotes
Phyteuma orbiculare
Phyteuma scheuzeri
Podophyllum peltatum (moist kept)

Primula japonica and other Primula spp. (not all)
Plectritis congesta
Sedum ssp.

Silene ssp.
Scabiosa caucasica, other Scabiosa spp.
Stylophorum diphyllum (moist kept species)
Stylophorum lasiocarpum
Thalictrum cf. foetidum
Viola – most species