Shop announcement

I apologize in advance but due to a family emergency, all orders placed on/and after Dec. 1 will be shipped after Dec.18th

Orders can be placed for in stock items, but keep in mind that shipping will resume only after Dec. 18th!

*The Canada 150 Celebration Sale will be extended to the month of January.

 Thank you for your understanding!

 

And a very abbreviated Newsletter for the coming December:

Latest seeds collected – Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’
Back in stock – Dioscorea caucasica
Latest addition to Canada 150 Celebration Sale – Aquilegia ‘Origami’ white
New page added to the Seeds Library – Primulaceae
If in need of botanical entertainment, the Botanical Trailblazers page has a new entry – Caryophyllaceae

And a happy summer image with Erinus alpinus – the latest species added to the Easy plants to grow from seeds list.

Erinus alpinus; front – Scabiosa silenifolia

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pehr_Kalm

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.
Dogen


Chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea oats

The cranberry

Another belated Friday’s seeds would have been unacceptable, so a plant portrait instead (seeds included ;) about the cranberry – Vaccinium macrocarpon, American cranberry.

The Cranberry is a North American symbol. Recently I’ve seen it growing in the wild and asked myself how many people actually know how the plant looks like?

Vaccinium macrocarpon fruit

It is very surprising to see that the large fruits are formed on a small trailing vine, which has thin, graceful branches. Is this indeed The cranberry?

Vaccinium macrocarpon

Yes, it is; after all ‘macrocarpon’ means ‘large fruit’.
Another species, Vaccinium oxycoccos, the small cranberry, is very similar and distinguishable by its pointed leaves (and few other details). The cranberries are specific wetlands species: they grow on swamps, fens, and occasionally on glacial deposits in kettle holes on shorelines (like shown in the picture). Usually will form mats on Sphagnum moss; leaves are shiny green/glaucous beneath and turn bright red in the fall.

The American cranberry can be found from Manitoba to Newfoundland, and south into the mid-western and eastern U.S. Probably in some areas fruits are still collected in the wild but most came from commercial operations. It was one of the first medicinal plant crop to be grown commercially in the U.S.; maybe in Canada as well.

Traditionally, Native people have gathered and consumed the fresh fruits for their vitamin C content and also used them dried and mixed with fat/dried meat and fish.
To note only few of the modern utilizations: they are used mainly for juice and pie making, jams, dried fruits, and for naturopathic preparations (bladder and kidney infections).

Have a bog/wet, acidic area in the garden? – do not hesitate to grow this lovely North American shrub!

 

A well done job

Never enough gentians….

In my opinion the bumble bees did a great job with Gentiana andrewsii. There are enough seeds for Canada 150 Celebration sale, and also for the seeds exchanges! :)

Bumble bee pollinating Gentiana andrewsii

A well done job

 

 

Here they go!

Trillium grandiflorum seeds are just beginning to germinate! As well is Paris quadrifolia; I noticed the first signs last Saturday (with my x40 lens).

I snapped a few pictures when I was packing some today; they are advanced enough to be noticeable even if the pictures are not great.

Trillium grandiflorum seeds starting to germinate

 

Paris quadrifolia seeds barely showing the radicle

No matter what someone else says/writes, this is happening every year.

For these species, moist stored seeds kept at warm will always start to germinate around this time (roots only).
From all T. grandiflorum seeds, 70-80% will germinate now (roots) and then show the first leaves in the spring after a period of cold stratification. The rest will need a cold/warm cycle to go through the same cycle.

Paris quadrifolia seeds were also tested two years ago and at that time they all germinated by November (this year I only got few and were promised to someone).

On short, hurry up if you think about Trillium grandiflorum; right now I can select and send seeds that are just about to germinate (they are enlarged and lighter in colour – see the feature image).

 

 

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

Friday’s seeds – Mitchella repens

I recently collected more partridge berries, together with Lindera benzoin and Prosartes lanuginosa (already shown, click on names).

Mitchella repens presents an interesting fruit, therefore worth a closer look. The red, fleshy, ‘two-eyed’ fruit it is formed after the fusion of the flowers ovaries – the white, fragrant flowers are disposed in pairs.  So, each pair of flowers will form one fruit. Each fruit has a spongy inside (a bit like Gaultheria) and will contain up to 8 seeds.

Mitchella repens fruits and seeds – Partridge berry, twinberry, squaw vine (Fam. Rubiaceae)

Why this perfect, evergreen ground hugging plant is seldom seen cultivated in the gardens remains a mystery to me. It can be easily propagated by cuttings as well.

Belated Friday’s seeds – Chamaedaphne calyculata

Instead of writing about seeds, I was in collecting them ;) therefore a combined post about Chamaedaphne calyculata, the Leatherleaf or ground laurel.

The sole member of the genus Chamaedaphne (Ericaceae), leatherleaf is a low growing evergreen small shrub (up to 1.5 m tall). It is native to cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere, from North America, NE Europe to N. Japan, Mongolia and Siberia, where grows in all types of bogs, sedge fens, and open wetlands.
It is characteristic of mature and late stages of moss shrub communities, where it forms colonies, with rhizomes spreading in the sphagnum moss. It actually helps the installation of other species with whom is found growing, like Sarracenia, Drosera, Kalmia polifolia, Ledum groenlandica, various Vaccinium species.

The common name comes from the thick, leathery leaves, which are turning red-brown in the winter. It has a dense branching and the older stems turn gray with a fine exfoliating bark texture.
The white, bell shaped flowers on long inflorescences appear in April-July, depending on the region. Somewhat resembles Andromeda flowers, which is why Linnaeus first named it Andromeda calyculata.

Chamaedaphne calyculata, Leatherleaf

Fruits are capsules with split open and release the seeds shown below (wedged shaped, golden brown).

Chamaedaphne calyculata fruits and seeds

 It would make a great addition for small and large bog gardens. For those who have conditions and enjoy growing Ericaceous species – the seeds require cold/moist stratification and probably best to germinate them like in nature on a piece of sphagnum moss (in a pot/or ‘in situ’). I showed in a previous post how to easily germinate Gaultheria procumbens and Saxifraga cuneifolia in moss (Read here Sowing in moss).

Chamaedaphne calyculata seedlings germinated/growing on sphagnum moss (look around the Tamarack branch :)