I find it hard to ignore the word “prim” in primrose and primula, a detail that can account for at least some of my longstanding aversion to the plant. I’m coming around to it though and recently acquired one with deep reddish/purple blooms (a photo soon) that I’m pretty excited about.
After-all, anything that blooms in early spring and doesn’t cost a gazillion dollars (I’m looking at you, Hellebore) is fine by me.
Remember last year when I invited local site readers to come out and grow seedlings together in a local greenhouse? Well, it’s seed starting season and the greenhouse has kindly offered us some space again this year so I’m putting out the call.
There is shelf space for about 2 or 3 people to grow seedlings depending on how many plants each person would like to grow. It works out to enough space to grow transplants for a good-sized garden. Members can grow for themselves or donate to community groups if they’d like. There are also 2 excellent, newly built coldframes outside that will be available for use.
However, there are some considerations and caveats attached to using the space; I’ve listed them below.
- The greenhouse is located in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto’s West End.
- Last year was the greenhouse’s first year in production and as predicted there were problems. Everyone is learning how to keep such a large, heated greenhouse functioning well in addition to making it all happen within a community. Thankfully a lot of the major problems have been addressed, and the greenhouse has been completely overhauled. Exciting! I think we’ll have a better go of it this year.
- A $20 donation is requested to help offset the cost of soil and other greenhouse supplies. The soil last year was cheap, and lousy as a result. This year the soil is far better, but exponentially more expensive.
- Members are asked to commit an hour per week to watering seedlings, monitoring plant health, and keeping the greenhouse clean and organized.
- An additional 5 hours per year of volunteer labour to the greenhouse and/or park is required. That can come in the form of the Adopt-a-tree program, Helping with Spring Park Day (planting & clean up) and/or Spring Clean-Up Day (picking up trash in the park, etc).
Here’s the inside. I took this last week when members were still just getting started for the year but will be filled with greenery in no time.
If you feel you can meet those commitments and would like to join, please get in touch with me via the contact form. Greenhouse members are currently conducting weekend grow-alongs to help beginners get their seeds started. Once we’ve got some members for our shelves, I’ll conduct some additional workshops to get us going.
Several plants in the peperomia genus are grown as common houseplants here in North America, but have you ever seen one like this?
I was first introduced to this particular plant in Dominica, where it goes by the local names JiwonflÃƒÂ¨*, JonflÃƒÂ¨, or Giron Fleur**. It is most often found in very damp and dark places, and as a result most of my photos were lousy. Last month I found it again (as seen here), on display in the Tropical Rainforest Conservatory at the Montreal Botanical Gardens and was able to get a better photo.
JiwonflÃƒÂ¨ is a tiny trailing succulent that grows as an epiphyte, hanging from the branches of trees, most commonly cocao and grapefruit. In Dominica, the plant is brewed into an herbal cold remedy but what’s most fascinating is the smell. When you crush the leaves, it emits a soft green peppercorn aroma. I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising since peperomia is in the same family as black peppercorns (Piperaceae).
This morning, I set out to post a different photo until I was reminded that it is St. Patrick’s Day, a day I most often associate with clovers. Technically oxalis and clovers aren’t the same thing, but they are often mashed together around this particular holiday. In truth, I’m going through a rather rabid oxalophile phase (am I the first to coin this term?) and don’t really need an excuse to post a photo of anything oxalis, or clover for that matter.
I found this particular oxalis growing in an area of Dominica called Giraudel, right beneath the nipple fruit, in fact. The plant is used locally as an herbal tea for sore throats and has the local name ‘Malgoj.’* I saw it several times throughout the island, and later in St. Lucia as well.
This is what the leaves look like.
* Source: “Caribbean Wild Plants and Their Uses” by Penelope N. Honychurch.
Until about a year ago, I had no idea that there were so many different types of galanthus, or that there is a mini subculture of galanthophiles* who are REALLY hardcore into collecting and identifying the subtle variations and markings in these teeny flowering bulbs. Not that I blame them — once you’re made aware of the variations, it’s difficult to not be drawn in.
I was browsing garden magazines at a friend’s the other day and I believe it is the current issue of Gardens Illustrated that has an article on galanthus with a gorgeous photo of several individual petals lined up on a piece of wood. That photo alone is enough to turn me into a galanthonerd.
On a related note: the other day, while taking this photo, I asked my friend Barry if snowdrops have a scent. At the time I noted how difficult it is to get down that low onto the ground to take a whiff. It did not occur to me that I could pick a bloom and bring it up to my nose. Dur.
* I thought I was making up a new jazzy word, and imagined myself an absolute genius for a quick second, too until I did a search and discovered the term is in widespread use. And since the mid-nineteenth century no less. Am starting to wonder if the galanthogeeks would have me as one of their own regardless of my sincerity and commitment.