The point of no return…Spring Equinox

Spring air –
woven moon
and plum scent.

We’ve been told that officially today it is the first day of Spring.  I looked outside at the snow flurries dancing in the air and tried to act accordingly. I replaced the plum flowers with the flurries and I substituted the scent with a few potted dwarf irises.

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

But more is happening proving that spring is nearby:

New seedlings 2014

The first germinated seedlings are basking under lights

For a few years now I keep my seedlings and other potted plants in our (unheated) garage. What bewildered us in the first year – some plants remaining green and happy till spring (with some careful minimum watering), it has become a common way of going through the winter. My little ‘garage garden’ is no doubt awakening:

All early flowering Arisaema species are swelling:

Arisaema sazensoo

Arisaema sazensoo

And outside, the first snowdrop shyly showed up on the rockery’s sunny face:

The first Snowdrop

The first Snowdrop

Forgive me if I seem too excited about these little signs of spring – it has been a long and hard winter for us, from any angle we may look at it. It may not look like Spring right now but no doubt we reached somehow the point of no return.


Geum reptans in late November

The Return of the Germinatrix

A rather silly post from last spring inspired by the good growth of a few very special seed collections from the Carpathian Mts. By fall some of them had grown up quite a bit so I added a few other images.

The youngest heralds of the new gardening season are looking grown up now and some are ready to be transplanted. There is the constant chattering and moving around plus that they pick their noses out from under lights as soon as they feel something is happening around.

Hello there! My name is Geum (reptans) and I am from the Carpathian Mts. I am 2 months-old and I like to play under lights with my friends: Anthemis, Oxytropis, and Anthyllis. When I grow up I would like to have a nice big boulder to spread unto by myself. Some say that I’m the most beautiful of the mountain avens, but I’m too little to know about this. My flowers, they say, are very big, bright yellow, like the sun. My fruits will be like fathe.., feater.., feather…I have to go now – farewell!

Hellooo! I want to see who’s there too…Don’t listen to Geum, I’m the prettiest, everyone says so! The mountain avens and all the others are so envious, that’s why I’m playing only with Dianthus (petraeus); she’s pretty too. And my name is Aquilegia (nigricans) and I am going to have the bluest flowers.  Oh! Look who’s talking – the ‘princess’. See how lacy I am and I’ll form a nice clump with lots of white daisy-like flowers. By the way, my name is Anthemis (carpatica)

Kids! I’m just their nanny, I’m wondering what their parents from up the mountain would say….you can see them all in the Botanical Trailblazers page – Bucegi Mountains.

Campanula alpina

Campanula alpina and calcifuge friends

Part III of Bucegi Mountains

 And after a while, following the trail and botanizing and/or admiring the scenery you’ll make it to the Omu Peak and Omu Chalet. It is time to have a snack, and finding a place to sit down (outside) is easily done. Careful though – because you’ll be surrounded by Campanula alpina, Primula minima, and clumps of Gentina frigida with the occasional Soldanella pusilla among them!

Omu hut

Omu hut

 Campanula alpina (subsp. alpina, to be more precise) is a very small Campanula but with big flowers, which looks as if emerging straight from the ground. It forms 5-10 cm tall flowering stems with lots of hanging bells in various shades of blue, and we also found a white one. Some say it is not strictly calcifuge, but given its choice of plant-buddies, probably a lime free substrate would be best for its cultivation. Luckily we found a few capsules to share, and it would be good to see at least a few of us successfully growing it in our rock gardens. I have never seen it offered, but this Campanula deserves a ‘five-star’ rank among the other rock garden bellflowers!

 There were just a few small clumps of Gentiana frigida, growing only up to 10 cm, with the flowers held in erect, terminal clusters. Apparently, the colour can vary from white to lemon yellow, with blue stripes and spots. Flowering so late in the season, it makes me wonder if ever gets to produce mature seeds as it is not unusual to have snow there in September. It is probably the lack of available seeds that makes it very scarce in cultivation. Primula minima is indeed a minimalist Primula, so little yet forming such large mats that in some areas one has no choice but to step on it. The flowers, which are quite big, were gone and the capsules were just about to mature. Apparently it can be grown from seeds and does well in a gritty, acid, humus-rich mixture, but the big problem in cultivation is managing to have it flower properly. Soldanella pusilla is the only calcifuge from the Snowbells group and has pink to violet flowers. As I don’t have many pictures, I’ll just move forward to another Carpathian endemic: Rhododendron kotschyi. This is a low spreading rhododendron that grows up to 20-30 cm, usually in groups that can occasionally cover large areas. It is an unforgettable sight when in flower, with large, pink, fragrant flowers in late May- June! We were happy enough to see it again, even if just for the glossy foliage.


Seeds of a New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

In keeping with a not too long tradition, on first of January, I’m writing about something that was the most special plant-wise for me, in the past year. And it seems that having up and running my indoor light stand won the honour!

From under the lights Under lights

For all of us gardeners and plant-alcoholics in the Northern hemisphere, the counter-attack to a long, harsh winter is without doubt having a growing light stand. With the seeds packages that start pouring in January, and the personal seeds collections, by mid February one can have a small growing operation! Of course that with the ‘seedling joy’ also comes frustration and sadness after loosing some, but that’s all part of the game, isn’t it?

Garden ready for 2014

Let’s all prepare to plant the seeds of a New Year! Try something new, approach differently what didn’t work last year, be creative, experiment, learn some more and watch your garden flourish.


May all your seeds germinate and all your plants and dreams come true in 2014!