Report on the shipping rates

I’ve been secretly working on adding new shipping rates and I’m happy to ‘report’ that it’s done! I’ve hoped to finish by the time the first signs of spring appear in the woodlands and the timing was right – Dirca palustris is just starting to flower, the first Allium tricoccum shoots are emerging and the Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) will soon burst into flower.

As of April 1st, new shipping and handling rates will apply for all orders – Shipping & Delivery. No need to remember them though because they are displayed on the shopping cart as soon as the country of the destination is entered – simple and clear!

They allow more choices for both domestic and international customers, a very low rate for small international orders (I’ve been listening ;), free shipping for specific amounts, and so on…Coupon codes will be applied as usual.

These settings took me out of my computer ‘comfort zone’ but the hard work is done and the framework is in place; further tweaks will be easy to apply – only the sky is the limit, or better said the bottom of the ocean because there is nowhere lower to go than these shipping rates ;)

Enjoy – grow more plants from seeds this season!

The woodland is quietly awakening

And, for those who don’t know – besides the blog, you can now follow, and if possibly like ;0 BotanyCa Plant Seeds on our facebook


Snowflakes by design: Mitella diphylla

Myriads of Mitella diphylla flowers are still falling from the sky. I noticed that not too many people are familiar with this dainty North American woodlander; what a pity…

It can be found in deciduous woodlands in part shaded areas, most often at the edges of the forest; easily noticeable despite its small flowers, it will flower somewhere at the beginning of May. A better timetable is to consider that it flowers at the same time with Trillium grandiflorum, Uvularia grandiflora and Coptis trifolia.

Mitella diphylla, Two-leaved bishop’s cap (Fam. Saxifragaceae) – Tall flowering stems carrying small, fringed, snowflakes shaped flowers above a pair of leaves. Fruits are dehiscent capsules with many small, black seeds.

Mitella is not an easy subject to capture on camera

What I like even more about it is that the basal leaves are evergreen; a most useful character in our climate with long flowerless periods. I cannot take a picture in the garden right now, but I have one from the previous garden showing it together with Cyclamen hederifolium and Hepatica in late November.

Mitella diphylla, Cyclamen and Hepatica foliage in November

Propagation: easy from seeds (sown in the fall) and mine has started to flower in the third year. After it gets established it can also be divided (it forms a rather tight clump so there is no worry about potential invasiveness).

Mitella diphylla seeds

The genus name Mitella comes from the Greek ‘mitra’= cap and the common name bishop’s cap or mitrewort refers to the cap-shaped fruit.

Plants of the Canadian West Coast – III

From the shady side

As we are approaching the longest night of the year, it seems appropriate to present few species from the shady side. The characteristic rain forest of the area presents itself as an enchanted place with huge ferns, moss clad tree logs and boulders, and lichens of all sorts and shapes. One could easily imagine how handy rain gear would be if visiting in spring or fall!

Growing on a most beautiful mossy outcrop populated by reindeer lichen, Goodyera, hairy Arctostaphylos and ferns, was Plectritis congesta. Some plants were already with seeds, but a few were still flowering and looked very nice in deep pink on the background of moss covered rocks.

Plectritis congesta, the Sea blush (Fam. Caprifoliaceae), is an annual species, very adaptable to growing conditions and quite variable as height and flower colour.

A species abundant in cool and shaded damp places, was the broad-leaved starflowers – Trientalis latifolia (Fam. Myrsinaceae more recently). The species can be easily distinguished by its very broad leaves, which make the pinkish to white flowers look smaller than they really are. As well, Linnaea borealis was frequent in the same microhabitats.

Trientalis latifolia – all populations found had pink to deep pink flowers, some also presenting extra petals

There would be much more to say and show, but Christmas time is close, so I will end this trip with a few lichen images, so specific for the coastal rainy forest habitats (there are also species growing in full sun locations). Species shown here belong to the Cladonia and Cladina genera (reindeer lichens), but since I’m not a lichen specialist, I will abstain from assigning species names. We can just admire their most beautiful, intricate and delicate patterns.

And a Merry Christmas to all!


Plants of the Canadian West Coast – II

More snow is on the way for us (and bitter cold), but we are hiking on the Sooke Coast trail where there are many flowers ;) Enjoy and more to come…

As I mentioned in part 1, Sedum spathulifolium seems to enjoy the company of many other species: Triteleia/Brodiaea, Allium cernuum, Heuchera micrantha and Pentagramma, to note just a few. The contrast of its bluish rosettes with the violet flowers of Triteleia laxa was particularly exquisite.

Brodiaea coronaria

Triteleia laxa Brodiaea coronaria – corrected thanks to a SRGC forumist, grows from a small, edible corm (Fam. Asparagaceae) and flowers usually after the foliage dies back. Flowers can be light blue to violet, rarely white; especially attractive when growing in groups, with the flowers showing up among the golden, dry foliage.

Another Triteleia species encountered was Triteleia hyacinthina (fool’s onion). The plant can be variable in height (10-40 cm) and has compact umbels of white flowers (sometimes having bluish tints) with green midribs. I don’t know really know if to call this one Brodiaea…

Triteleia hyacinthina

Triteleia hyacinthina close-up

Allium cernuum, the nodding onion, was also found growing nearby and looked very attractive when drooping gracefully over a rock ledge.

Allium cernuum

Taking pictures of Triteleia, I noticed something glittering in the sun down the slope and approaching to see better, I noticed the goldback fernPentagramma triangularis. This lovely small sized fern can remain evergreen throughout the year when enough moisture is available.  In full sun and dry conditions, as I found it, it will curl its fronds and reveal the golden spores. I know the picture cannot show the reality of the ‘golden glitter’, but it’s true. What a great little fern for the rock garden!

Pentagramma triangularis – Goldback fern on Sooke Coast Trail

Meandering around beach pockets, the hiking trail enters sometimes into the forest (there is also an option to return through the woods to the trailhead). Majestic Douglas, Tsuga, Sitka spruce and Thuja plicata will accompany the path; it’s only after the bark that you can tell which one is which. A spectacular shrub encountered in large numbers as an understory, was the salal, Gaultheria shallon (Fam. Ericaceae).

Gaultheria shallon – Salal

This is an evergreen shrub, 1,5 m to 3 m tall, which can form very dense thickets. The leathery, thick leaves and the racemes of urn-shaped, white to pink flowers make it for a very handsome shrub. Fruits are purplish-black berries that are said to be sweetish and flavourful. Salal berries were a staple food for the NW coastal First Nations, who use to eat them preserved in oolichan (bear fat – correction thanks to a  sharp eye, oolichan or smelt is a fish – see end of the post for more info), pounded and dried into cakes (kept in woven baskets over the winter). There is also mention of mixing the fruits with salmon eggs to obtain a sweetish dish…

Gaultheria shallon


read more here – Eulachon, Oolichan, Candlefish, Hooligan 

“To Native Americans, the return of the eulachon meant the beginning of spring and a renewed food supply, literally saving lives and earning them the name “salvation fish” or “savour fish.”  They were the first fish to arrive in the river after a long cold winter when most of their stored food supplies had been depleted.   Unlike other fish oils, eulachon lipids are solid at room temperature, with the color and consistency of butter.  These fish are almost 20 percent oil by weight, allowing a fine grease to be rendered from their bodies and creating a high-energy food source that could easily be transported and traded with other tribes farther inland.”


Plants of the Canadian West Coast

Sooke Coast Trail – part 1

At this time of year we are in need of sunny/flowery images, so I’ll quit the propagation stories for a while (I am sure some readers got heavily bored ;). Chance made it that I got to visit Victoria (situated on the southern part of Vancouver Island) in late May, but never got to sort through the many pictures; few posts will take care of this now ;)

A short note for those who are not familiar with the region: the southern part of Vancouver Island constitutes the northern growing limit for many species, which are common otherwise on the US west coast down to the Californian coastal mountains. Victoria is considered the mildest city in Canada and enjoys a sub-mediterranean climate (yes you hear me well!) with mild winters (snow is a very rare event), rainy springs and falls and dry summers (hardiness considered, zone 7-8).

The first highly recommended hiking destination, in a short driving distance from Victoria, is the Sooke area. There are a few trails available, which can be done partially or entirely. The Coast Trail in East Sooke Regional Park was particularly impressive (follow link to see map and read more).


View from Sooke Coast Trail

Excellent views are opening all along the trail, which follows the rocky coast, only with a few passages going deep into the forest (usually to go around a pocket beach). In between taking pictures and stopping to admire the wild, rugged landscape, time flies; I would say that at least two days are necessary to get a good grasp of its beauty.  It is very hard to choose only a few pictures to show.


View from Sooke Coast Trail

Plants speaking, the first species that makes you go – WoW! Is the Pacific Madrone – Arbutus menziesii. Any time I encounter in the wild a species previously known only from picture, there is a special feeling, same like meeting a person known previously only from correspondence. I couldn’t shake hands with the Arbutus :) but I was happy to brush my hand over the exquisite cinnamon/red, exfoliating bark.


Arbutus menziesii on Sooke Coast Trail – Pacific Madrone, Arbutus

Pacific Madrone/Arbutus is an evergreen tree with many other qualities, glossy leaves and creamy clusters of flowers (attracting many pollinators) followed by red fruits; all making for a most beautiful tree. And there is more – the trunk and branches are twisting in various ways, to the point that sometimes they will hug and gracefully slide along the rocks’ contour. Its native range extends from:  SW  Vancouver Island to south Baja California. It is found growing in dry open forests, rocky slopes, on coarse or shallow soils.


Arbutus menziesii

Another ‘staple’ species of the region is Sedum spathulifolium – the broadleaf stonecrop. It seems able to grow absolutely everywhere: on moss-layered rocks, decomposed tree trunks, wind blasted rocks in full sun or cascading over shaded boulders. Truly spectacular! Probably half of my pictures contain this Sedum in various plant-associations. I liked it best together with Cladonia or a Cladina sp. (the reindeer moss); the white-silvery, lacy lichen bringing out the beauty of the bluish foliage and the contrasting red stems & yellow flowers.


Sedum spathulifolium and reindeer moss on Sooke Coast Trail


Sedum spathulifolium 


Sedum spathulifolium tumbling over the rocks

This post is getting a bit too long so more to follow…

Out in the woods – falling leaves

The ‘colourful leaves’ spectacle is getting close to an end in this part of Ontario; all we can do is to enjoy the last  warm, golden- russet hues which make the woodland glow. Green spots of moss boulders and Hepaticas, the fragrance of the dry leaves, the soft light – all so lovely!

Falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly.
                          John Bailey



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.

Cuteness alert – Clinopodium arkansanum

Limestone calamint (syn. Calamintha, Satureja)

 Some may have noticed that I’m in love with little plants; I like them even more when they are fragrant!

The Limestone calamint is a dwarf, extremely aromatic species that I really wanted to have in my seed collections and around my rockery. In Ontario, it can be found growing on the rocky shores of Lake Huron, on temporarily moist, calcareous flats and between boulders.

Clinopodium arkansanum flowers

Clinopodium arkansanum – Limestone calamint

The little cutie has large blooms for its size, then capsules which remain enclosed in the calyces. The stems take a nice purple colour contrasting nicely with the lavender flowers. Stepping on them (by mistake of course!) will release an aromatic minty wave into the air; also an ID help when not in flower ;)

Unfortunately, it is very hard to say when the seeds are ‘ready’ and had I failed to collect them in the wild during the past couple of years. 

Fortunately, I managed to collect a few this time!

Too cute not to have it!

American lotus

Nelumbo lutea

A bit of a surprise – there is a lotus that grows wild in Ontario! It is found only towards the extreme southern part of the province, and according to wiki it was introduced in various regions by the Native Americans who carried it along with them as a food source (the tuber). It is fully hardy to zone 5, as long as the water is deep enough and the roots won’t freeze.

Nelumbo lutea foliage

Nelumbo lutea foliage; yellow flowers in late summer

In warmer regions it is quite a colonizer and also called water-chinquapin. Supposedly, it is the largest native wildflower, at least in wetlands, its leaves reaching more than 60 cm in diameter! The seeds are surely among the largest too!

Nelumbo lutea seeds

Nelumbo lutea seeds – 1 mm grid

I cannot abstain from trying to germinate a couple of these seeds. They need to be scarified or nicked and should germinate in water after +/- 2 weeks. For scarification you can use sandpaper or, for large seeds like these, a file. When scarifying the question is always – how much of the seed coat should be removed? It varies from species to species but the general rule is: ‘less is more’. When done well, the seeds will slightly enlarge in a few days; if not, they can be easily scarified some more.

I am sure everyone knows that lotus seeds can remain viable for several decades, given their extremely hard seed coats, so most probably I didn’t file them enough. My short nails, have gotten even shorter.

UPDATE – July 20, the seedlings were planted :)