More Comps flowers and apologies

I knew this it will happen sooner or later and I knew it will be a damn comp – running short on seeds for an order.
Luckily there are many other species that I can make up with for the missing Aster alpinus seeds.

Aster alpinus – good (upper right corner) and bad ‘seeds’

The embarrassing moment put behind, let’s have a look at a few more Comps flowers.

Plant valentine – North American native species

I had no intention to write a plant valentine because I am not done with the Compositae, but a recent order brought happy thoughts about our lovely woods and not only.

 I also thought about our quest for the unattainable, hard to obtain and grow species. All the while, an abundance of lovely North American species are awaiting to be cultivated more in our gardens. True, not all of them are glamorous, but one thing you can be sure about is that they are reliable.

So, here it is my plant valentine this year – to all North American native species: from the forests, mountains, prairies, bogs and fens to the rocky shorelines. We should all grow more!

Back to the Compositae, there are lots of native species among them that’s for sure  :)

*Maianthemum canadense seedling in the featured image

Overlapping – A new Sale list

Canada 150 Celebration Sale will end shortly. As the saying goes, with every end there is a new beginning.

A new Sale category for the month of February is in the works; it will include some of the previous species, and not only. Various other species, either collected in slightly larger quantities, or down to 1 pck., will be added to the list; plus, a few Clematis species.

For those interested to take advantage  – for a couple of days until I manage the end/new beginning, the two sale lists will overlap ;)

*In the featured picture: Saruma henryi seeds just starting to germinate!

Featured for this post is the newly added Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’
This is a most beautiful Clematis hybrid with large light yellow flowers, opening to white cream/with a middle green band. The undisclosed parentage it’s presumed to be some natural light yellow strain of Clematis patens (seen in a few other cultivars of Japanese origin, like Wada’s Primrose).

I have to emphasize that this being a hybrid it will not come true from seeds! However, the possibility of obtaining something very close to it, or perhaps even better, is tantalizing!

In the picture below in my former tiny garden, growing/scrambling on Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’; the large flowers will open just at the peak colour of the Fagus. An unforgettable sight!

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’


Growing Podophyllum from seeds, including Dysosma and Sinopodophyllum

While in the Berberidaceae realm, here’s a post where I outlined as best as possible, the process of growing Podophyllums from seeds from A to Z.

The Chinese Podophyllums (syn. Dysosma), share similar seeds and germination requirements as our native Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple). In all cases, the seeds are enclosed inside fleshy fruits. After the fruits are collected, it is important to extract and clean the seeds right away. This can be a bit unpleasant because the inside containing the seeds is gelatinous (use a sieve and lightly rub the seeds out and rinse, rinse and rinse again).

The sowing can/must be done right away (Sept./October) or the seeds placed in moist vermiculite in Ziploc bags until sowing. They are easy to keep in moist vermiculite as long as were well cleaned; you only have to check the moisture level once in a while (one exception noted for Dysosma aurantiocaule, when the seeds got soft fast, but I had a small lot of seeds and cannot really generalize).

I must emphasize that these seeds are hydrophilic, and using dry seeds to sow, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time.

Dysosma seeds in moist storage

The required cycles for germination are: Light WARM (late fall temperatures)/COLD.

  1. Sowing outside: the time would be early to late fall; sow as usual in pots/large containers, water and keep them over the winter in a cold frame. Easy done, no worries!

Podophyllum peltatum germinated outdoors with seedlings showing the cotyledon leaves

  1. Sowing indoors: usually done in the winter/early spring with seeds that have been kept moist and allowed a light warm/cold period. The cold period can be provided in a cold garage/fridge. It is not advisable to use this method unless enough light can be provided for the growing seedlings (light stand, conservatory).

If someone wants to speed up the process, the Ziploc bags with seeds can be taken out of the fridge around late January/February and kept at room temperature; gradually the seeds will start to germinate and can be potted up one by one and placed under the lights.

Dysosma hybrids (pleiantha x versipellis) seedlings

Or, leave the Ziploc in the fridge until all seeds start to germinate towards spring (approx. March/April) – as well, pot them up and provide adequate conditions until they can go outside.

Dysosma hybrid, seeds germinated in the fridge, April 21

In most cases, only cotyledon leaves will be formed, in other cases the true leaves will appear as well. Usually, P. peltatum forms only cotyledon leaves in the first season; the Chinese ones are variable, most will form a true leaf. When growing from seeds there is always great variability.
Keep the seedlings in a part shaded place, water and feed lightly. At some point in the summer they may go dormant, especially if very hot weather.

All the seedlings which didn’t form a true leaf in the first year, will do it in the second year. Be patient. In general, 3-4 years are necessary to obtain a good young plant; they will grow really fast after the root system has bulked up.

Synopodophyllum hexandrum (syn. Podophyllum hexandrum)

The difference in this case is that the seeds are not hydrophilic, so they can be kept dry in the fridge for quite a few years. Of course, when sown fresh (fall), they will germinate in the spring.

For dry seeds, a GA3 treatment followed by sowing at room temperature usually will result in rapid germination, and sometimes most seedlings will present the true leaf. 

Sinopodophyllum hexandrum seedling with true leaf

Important for all species: in the first 1-2 years they put lots of energy into forming their radicular system; this translates in the fact that the seedlings need enough space to develop. So, either sow fewer seeds per pot or transplant them in the early stage in individual pots.
I think my pictures show very well what I mean; learn from my mistakes ;) If you sown to dense and didn’t prick them early, don’t panic; when still dormant (very early spring), shake the soil, untangle the roots gently and repot in a fresh mix in large size pots.

Sinopodophyllum hexandrum crowded seedlings after one season growth  in the same pot

Sinopodophyllum hexandrum one-year seedlings prepared for repotting, notice the variation in size

Again, there is always variation when growing from seeds; we cannot expect all the seeds, even from the same batch, to grow the same: the collection site, mother-plant, ambient factors, all have an influence in germination & growth of the seedlings. This picture with one year old Dysosma plants shows it very well:

Dysosma hybrid one year old plants, prepared to be repotted

I hope this will be helpful for all wanting to grow Podophyllum/Dysosma from seeds – Happy Podos growing!

Fridays Seeds and much more about the fuzzy wild bean – Strophostyles

I wanted something special for this arctic day and the woolly seeds of Strophostyles helvola are just perfect; I will stress again the woolly :)

Strophostyles helvola coiled pods and seeds

Strophostyles helvola, trailing wild bean (or amberique bean)  is an annual vine native to eastern Canada and the US; the pea-like flowers are light pink/lilac and they form pods very similar with those of Phaseolus vulgaris; the pod coils when it dries up to release 4-8 woolly  seeds.
The stems will trail on other plants, or if not, will inter-twine with each other on the ground, just like Amphicarpaea bracteata does (google images).

This species has had various medicinal uses for the Native Peoples, and there are also indications that the seeds were used as a food source; they were found in a few archeological sites in NA.

Those interested can read more about this in the curriculum of the Advanced Paleoethnobotany Seminar from Washington University:

And, while talking wild foods, it’s winter so new ideas are always welcomed – have a look at this article which recommends other edible species found on the coastal habitat (same where Strophostyles can also be found):

What about: amberique-bean humus with cattails au gratin?
Go foraging this year! :))

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!


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!

Friday’s seed and plant portrait – Hypericum kalmianum

Having too many seeds makes it hard to choose which one to show/write about.
I am going the easy way with the last species uploaded to the shop – the Kalm’s St. John’s wort, a (sub)shrub native of the Great Lakes region in Canada and US.

Hypericum kalmianum seeds – Kalm’s St. John’s wort (Fam. Hypericaceae)

Cultivated to some extent, this Hypericum has narrow bluish-green leaves and cheerful, large golden flowers with extruded stamens in late summer; the capsules mature very late.
It is a showy, adaptable plant; evergreen (or partly) and as one can guess after its wild habitat, with excellent cold hardiness. Another attractive feature is the brown/reddish bark which peels off.

Lots of qualities!

The specific epithet honors Pehr Kalm, one of Linnaeus’ disciples ; an explorer, botanist and naturalist, he traveled to and lived for a while in North America in mid-17th , discovering and writing about plants, animals, insects, Niagara Falls, and in general about the life of American colonies at the time.

Another species that can be found with H. kalmianum, bearing the same name is Lobelia kalmii  shown in the gallery.
Days are short now so you can start to read more about Pehr in the wiki stub and then follow other links:

Friday’s Seeds and plant portrait – Amsonia hubrichtii

Honestly, I had no intention to write another post so soon, but plants need to be shown at their best moments. And, Amsonia hubrichtii, the Arkansas bluestar is absolutely radiant right now.

Amsonia hubrichtii in late fall

Depending how much sun receives it may also take a russet hue (notice the capsules).

I won’t wonder again about why is not cultivated more; the images speak for themselves. It is a foliage plant by definition, the thread- like leaves will combine beautifully with almost anything else; those who want more flowery display should plant other perennials close to it and let them complement/weave through the delicate foliage.

The flowers are pale blue, not very noticeable but a nice addition.

With Delphinium likiangense; probably larkspurs (Consolida regalis) would make for a nice combination as well.

Without thinking much, one year I planted Dahlia coccinea behind it; now it has become the rule.

The seeds are quite particular, like of other Amsonias (Fam. Apocynaceae); the fruits (capsules) can be spotted in one image above.

Amsonia hubrichtii seeds

PS. It is a bit late to emerge in the spring; planting a bunch of small spring bulbs & daffodils close to the clump will do the trick ;)


November Newsletter

Well, nothing significantly new happened that hasn’t already been posted in the blog. Besides the seeds, this is a busy time with garden winter preparations and tucking in the young plants for their winter sleep; about this a special post later.

Seeds wise

There are still a few species waiting to be assessed (GA3, embryo cut) and eventually placed in the shop, but otherwise the seed list for this year is pretty much complete. Latest addition to the shop: Paeonia obovata var. alba.

Bad news

To get over the bad news fast, I am sorry to announce that we have decided to discontinue shipping to the USA. Maybe one day the decision will be reversed, but under the present U.S. customs regulations and conditions, the whole process had become too cumbersome to manage.
Many thanks to all past US customers!

Fall is a good time for a note about grasses and sedges.

It is unfortunate that many don’t consider growing more from seeds; they are easier to grow than many other species. Because not in high demand, I haven’t collected anything new this season except Melica transsilvanica, and this only because I want to grow it for myself. Of course there are few extra seeds to share.

Melica transsilvanica, Silky melic together with Veronica orchidea in wild habitat

The assortment available in Canada has never been too broad, leaving aside the countless cultivars of Miscanthus, Pennisetum and Panicum, plus some Carex. Yes, there is also Hahonechloa and few others, but the offering is getting scarcer from one year to another.
Helictotrichon, Deschampsia, Sporobolus have become rare; also it seems Chasmanthium latifolium has fallen into disgrace.

I have all of the above but I particularly like the evergreen (or partly) sedges which provide texture to the winter garden in the snowless periods. Alas, native Carex species have never been much in fashion.

Carex lupulina (native) and Carex oshimensis ‘Everest’ are shown in the featured image, marking the entrance to a path in my garden.

Carex muskingumensis (palm sedge) is another interesting NA sedge which adds a nice texture to any planting.

Other NA native sedges that I would like to add to the garden, pending seeds availability, are Carex plantaginea, Carex eburnea and C. grayi.

In the end, either grown from seeds or ready purchased, I would say we need more grasses; “some may realize it and some may not”… ;)

On the tips of ten thousand grasses each and every dewdrop contains the light of the moon
Since the beginning of time not a single droplet has been forgotten
Although this is so, some may realize it, and some may not.

Chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea oats