One of my favourite features in his garden this summer are the ‘Mahogany’ nasturtiums that have been going gangbusters since June (right side). Their deep red blooms look so good against all of the chartreuse foliage in that corner.
Over the weekend my friend Barry opened his garden up to public viewing and for something special, brought most of his impressive agave collection down from a third floor balcony and into the yard for viewing. It’s not just that Barry has assembled this collection, but that he grew many of these large plants from seed! Perhaps not such a difficult feat in a southern climate, but here in the North that means years of shifting spiny plants indoors and out, and months of coddling under lights and in sunny windows through the winter.
I walked around the table with my cellphone and shot a little video of the plants. If I had to choose a favourite, I think it would be the one that has black leaf margins and spines. But only under duress since there are several others that are just unbearably pretty. The white one in the centre of the arrangement is pretty impressive too. And the little one with the very thin leaves….
Can you distinguish the plants from the rocks? Lithops, aka stone plants, are a favourite botanical freak but I am very tentative about growing them. I’ve killed a fair share and even though I have an intellectual understanding of their needs, I still don’t feel like I truly “get” them in practice. I currently have 2 plants and I haven’t killed them yet so that’s saying something, I suppose.
My friend Barry grew these from seed. He says they are about 2 years old. Look at the exciting colours in there!
I never see anything that interesting in stores. I’ve got a packet of seed that I bought back in the spring. I hope to grow them this winter once my outdoor gardening activity cools off. Since I’m feeling a bit nervous about the experiment, I’ve started a Lithops Grow-Along thread in the You Grow Girl Forums. Support, camaraderie, and accountability just might be the ticket to success. Wanna join me?
I have always wanted one, but it was one of those plants I stayed clear of under the condition that I would get one eventually, but only when I got rich and/or became a homeowner. I bought a Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) instead; the poor man’s Japanese maple. Nearly ten years later, the Purple Smoke Bush is a monster [ed: I just checked and it turns out I bought the smoke bush in 2003, although i wanted a Japanese Maple long before.] and I am still gazing longingly at other peoples’ Japanese maples.
Looking back, it comes as no surprise that I would still be pining for one. Chances were pretty good that I would never meet the ridiculous self-imposed conditions required.
And so I decided that this was the year we would get one and grow it in a pot rather than waiting for the magical moment that may never come. You see, way back then, I was under the mistaken impression that Japanese Maples are uber expensive. And it is true. A single, mature tree can cost hundreds of dollars. But seedlings are affordable, and growing your own from seed costs nothing but patience and time. What’s more, every seedling is unique, offering you the chance to grow a few and then select the one you like best to grow on.
In the end we got ourselves a little 10″ tree, but it’s not a store-bought tree. Our tree comes with a story and a personal history. A friend collected the seed and another friend (Barry) grew the subsequent seedlings on for three years. It’s a special tree and a strange step forward in my gardening life.
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!