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 (alvars).

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!

C-section – Roscoea tibetica

Update: I have serious doubts now that this is R. tibetica (or bhutanica) and although I had intentions I won’t add to the general confusion by offering seeds. I am waiting for other opinions regarding its identity (maybe R. australis?)…..probably it will be a looong wait.

Yesterday morning I had the wonderful surprise to find Roscoea (tibetica) in ‘labour’. The capsule was just starting to split open showing the seeds. The smallest of the genus, R. tibetica has a particular way of developing the capsule at soil level (easy to miss it), inside the stem actually, and I thought it would be interesting to show it, especially because this is also the final confirmation of its identity.

Roscoea tibetica capsule

Roscoea (tibetica) showing split capsule

Roscoea species have arilate seeds, so if ants are around (or earwigs) it’s wise not to miss the ‘delivery’. A bit of help is needed to extract the seeds without the stem being destroyed – a clean, small cut, followed by a bandage application (cheesecloth works perfectly) to secure the leftover seeds (the flowers open in succession so not all the seeds mature at the same time).

Size, shape and arils are good characters for Roscoea ID, especially considering that there is quite a bit of confusion going around – R. tibetica has seeds with deeply lacerate arils.

I presented Roscoea tibetica in the Little plants series; this year grew better in part-shade, sharing a container with A. fargesii seedlings. This is a great little Roscoea for the rock garden. Easy to grow from seeds, it can be quite variable; the form shown in the featured image has small purple flowers barely showing from among the stems, so one cannot really call it a showy plant. More than this, it starts growing sometimes in June, it flowers in late June, and by mid-August the seeds are ripen – ‘living in the fast lane’!

One for collectors and people in love with ‘little plants’ :)

Good read on Roscoea: The Genus Roscoea – Jill Cowley, RBG Kew, 2007. Speaking of which, reading again about R. tibetica and R. bhutanica, it seems that my plant fits more likely with the later: “Leaf blades usually 2-6 at flowering time, slightly auriculate… Inflorescence enclosed in leaf sheats. Flowers opening just above leaves, one open at a time…..Seed aril shallowly lacerate.”

Happy to hear other opinion…

New territory – Incarvillea delavayi

Little plants series IV

Maybe not a really little plant but it deserves a mention because I highly underestimated it (and it also sits in a container with little plants). From the little tuber I showed in the spring as Incarvillea ‘Snowtop’ (true that it was on top of snow), it came in flower as the pink Incarvillea delavayi. It has flowered for weeks, pink trumpet after pink trumpet, and more than that, one morning I got to watch a cool spider establishing a new territory between its flowers.

How to expect so much from such a tiny tuber?!

Incarvillea delavayi1


Salvia daghestanica

The resurrected – Salvia daghestanica

Little plants series III

A few years ago I bought a silver leaf Salvia daghestanica for my dry and sunny mini- rockery. It did quite well, but this spring was obviously in distress. Decided to nurture it until its final breath, I planted it by itself in a small pot.

But it has resurrected and flowered profusely (it may really be its last breath) but anyway, the hummingbird has visited it, and now at least we can hope for seeds! Maybe THE BEST silvery leaf sage (sometimes called Salvia  canescens var. daghestanica). An amazing plant – you can read a longer story about silver leaf Salvias on the Prairie Break Blog (of the equally amazing Panayotis Kelaidis, who actually is responsable for introducing this Salvia in cultivation in North America).



Summer shimmer – Hypericum olympicum f. uniflorum

Little plants series II

A post from the Little plants series while I’ll be out and about for a couple of weeks. This dwarf St. John’s wort, Hypericum olympicum f. uniflorum embodies perfectly the heat and blazing sunrays of the summer. Although not employed medicinally like its cousin Hypericum perforatum, it delivers some equally important therapy for the soul & eyes.

Great at the edge of full sun borders, container garden, front of the rockery or even a big trough. Super hardy and easy from seed (very fine seedlings that need just a bit of extra care).

Hypericum olympicum f. uniflorum

In praise of little plants I

Plants that did make sense to have in my small garden

A dwarf, big flowered blue columbine: Aquilegia discolor, most probably a cross (from Seedex as A. saximontana)

Aquilegia discolor (cross)

 Aquilegia discolor cross

True that if we would grow only ‘reasonable’ plants, our gardens would lack all spontaneity and wonder. But because I can now easily enjoy them in containers, and not worry about their relocation, I think a bit of praise is warranted.

On the other side of the container, a tiny hardy ginger: Roscoea tibetica (from Lost Horizons) – very precious, after the bad winter we had, who knows if I will get to see the other Roscoeas from the garden.

Roscoea tibetica

Roscoea tibetica

From another container, the most fragrant, fringed Dianthus I know: Dianthus petraeus (from wild collected seeds in the Carpathian Mts.) Too bad I cannot insert a ‘scratch patch’ with its perfume.

Dianthus petraeus

Dianthus petraeus

A rock jasmine: Androsace sarmentosa – a small piece I saved from an old plant, I hope it will thrive again (or set seeds, or better both).

Androsace sarmentosa

Androsace sarmentosa

and more are on their way to flower…