Once again my attempt at Wordless Wednesdays is a complete failure. As I was prepping this image, I realized I could not post it without saying something about these fascinating flowers.
Begonia plants have male and female flowers that carry the reproductive organs on individual flowers. This flower is the female, aka pistillate flower. The yellow part in the center that looks like a twisted up pipe cleaner is called the stigma. It’s the part that receives the pollen. The entire female reproductive system is known as the pistal. In this photo, you can just see the ovaries peaking out from behind the flower.
And so concludes today’s mini botany lesson.
One of my paying gigs is writing (and some photography) for a new gardening magazine called Garden Making. This last week, the magazine celebrated a year in publication with four issues in print. That is no small feat for a specialized print magazine, on the topic of gardening (in Canada, no less), in the age of screen versus print reading, and IN THIS ECONOMY. Big congratulations to the Fox family who are working together to grow a quality gardening publication one issue at a time.
My article in the latest issue, called A Perpetual Feast is on growing a perennial food garden and includes a bit of background as to how I stumbled away from the annual vegetable model (aka the Scorched Earth approach) while experimenting in my community garden.
I have written three other articles for the magazine all on the topic of food gardening. The topics I have covered so far include: A profile of 5 of my favorite unusual vegetables, 6 edibles that thrive through the cooler months, and an in-depth piece on growing garlic that includes a few unusual types of garlic that are seldom written about.
The magazine has agreed to give away a one year subscription to one of you. Just tell us in the comments about one interesting edible you are growing or hope to grow next year and I’ll pick someone at random on Friday.
UPDATE: The winner is Kathi from Toronto.
Please keep telling us about the edibles you are growing or hope to grow. Your stories are great!
Behold, the beautiful leaves of this Rex Begonia I bought last winter. It’s flowering!
The trick to growing this particular begonia is shade and humidity. My time hiking through forests in Dominica really drove that point home in a clear way. I often found begonias growing in surprisingly dim spots underneath thick tree canopy and near to a water source where the humidity was high. Rex Begonias are known for demanding more of both.
When I first bought this plant I had a difficult time finding that balance. I got the humidity part right but gave it too much light. Rexs without enough humidity end up with crispy leaf edges. And when the light is too bright, they lose their vibrant color.
From the moment I first laid eyes on an Oxalis palmifrons I knew I wanted to take a picture of it with a tiny model train figure standing underneath the leaves as if she/he was a tourist posing among a bank of palm trees.
This photo isn’t quite what I had in mind.
Our new place has a cold, south-facing, window-filled mudroom. It was the porch at one time and still has the original stone window-ledge, window, brick facade, concrete floor, and functional doorbell. It’s not a very functional living space, but it makes a perfect cold greenhouse!
Since before the move, my poor plants have been suffering through weeks of neglect and life in less-than-ideal conditions. They’ve spent the last 10 days or so sitting in boxes; some getting too much light and others not enough. Several were in the cold room that shouldn’t have been, while others were baking in the heat without adequate water. A few were even stuck in the basement without any light or water at all! I haven’t lost anything completely, but I’ve come close and just about nothing looks like it did before we began the moving process.
The original window is still intact. This is the view from inside the living room.
I knew from the moment we saw the place that that mudroom would become my personal greenhouse. Last night, I finally had a chance to do a cursory setup of the plants along with a good watering and some pruning back of dead and broken branches. Hopefully the plants will bounce back from the abuse they’ve suffered. In the meantime, my friend Barry gifted me five new oxalis plants and a potted Scilla peruviana. Barry grows his in his cold greenhouse and I’m hoping mine will be just as happy in my setup.
When I went in there this morning to check on the plants, I was shocked and happily surprised by how earthy and greenhouse-like the room smelled. When those really cold, miserable days of winter start to get me down, I can putter around inside my little greenhouse, touch some greenery and smell fresh soil. This move is turning out to be better than I had imagined!