These Lady’s-Slipper orchids are currently in bloom in my friend Barry’s garden. If you can make it to his garden open house this weekend you’ll get a chance to see these and a few other species in person.
When we think of orchids, we tend to think of those finicky tropical flowers that are so often difficult to grow without the benefit of a heated greenhouse. Amazingly, some species of Cypripediums are cold hardy and even fewer still are native to the so-called cold north. You can still find them growing in woodland habitats in protected parks across this part of North America. I was lucky enough to catch one in bloom on a trip to Lake Huron several years back. I didn’t even have to go out to a protected spot — the plant was growing in the lot behind our cottage!
I seem to like every spring-blooming flower within this genus. They have an elegance about them that I find appealing.
The first new radishes have been making their way into our salads over the last week — what a treat! First up is ‘Sparkler’, a tender, two-toned variety that reminds me of a flattened ‘French Breakfast.’ The later is long and elegant but only appropriate for the very deepest containers, while ‘Sparkler’ is short and squat, perfect for window boxes and smaller pots.
The trick to growing tender radishes in pots is to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Dry soil turns out small, woody radishes. Deeper containers are easier to keep moist. If you are having trouble growing decent radishes, try supersizing your container and growing a smaller variety.
This year I am experimenting with a big wash basin that is about 8 1/2″ deep by 18″ wide. I made lots of holes in the bottom of the container with a big nail and a hammer before filling it with potting soil. I then planted the seeds in concentric circles within the container, spaced about 2 inches apart so the radishes would have room to grow. Approximately 20 or so radishes can grow in there at one time — I could have fit a few more had I not sown a patch of wild arugula in the center for the heck of it.
More About Radishes:
I bought this plant Claytonia nevadensis, also known as Sierra Spring Beauty, a few weeks ago on a trip to Lost Horizons, a nursery located in the town of Acton. The plant is endemic to California, growing along rocky streams high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
I bought the plant hoping it is edible like others within the genus (sometimes called Montia). Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about this species available and I haven’t found proof either way. The mystery continues, although I ate a leaf recently so… On the positive side of things, I haven’t come across a poisonous claytonia, so there is still hope. And I am neither sick nor dead. That too.
I do not recommend or condone this method of identification.
Edible or not, buying this plant has opened my eyes to a whole new world of claytonias. I have grown the most common types and have identified them growing wild in parks on trips to California, but I had no idea there were so many different species — some much more beautiful and intriguing than c. perfoliata aka ‘Miner’s Lettuce’.
The education I sometimes glean from the acquisition of a single plant and the new worlds it can open up still surprises me. Worth the insane $9 price tag.
On the flip side of things, I’m a bit concerned about my ability to keep this little gem alive. It grows in very free draining soil or scree, alongside flowing mountain streams. Clearly these are not the conditions at my community garden plot. So for the time being, I’m keeping it in a pot until I can figure something out.