My obsession with oxalis is not undocumented on this site. I’ve got an entire tag dedicated to it. What I haven’t said here is that I’m really not into the large-leaved shamrock-style oxalis you see in stores around St. Patrick’s Day.
Just not my thing.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to me just how much I have come to adore this ‘Iron Cross’ Oxalis (Oxalis deppei). Although, it’s not exactly a big-leaved type, I’d describe the size as moderate…. somewhere between the big leaved types and the diminutive ones I’ve come to favour.
This is it. This is when it begins. It’s there now, but you have to look for it.
Be a detective. Turn your attention way down to the ground. Can you see it?
Today you might have to crouch down low or look up high to get a glimpse, but within just a few weeks it will all be happening so fast all around you, you will wish for it to slow down just a bit so you can catch your breath.
One of my goals for the 2011 growing season is to try expanding into other species of the nasturtium genus (Tropaeolum). My love of the well known and edible Tropaeolum majus is well documented on this site, and elsewhere, but I have never tried to grow, nor have I even seen any of the other species in person.
I’ve been wondering why the others are not popular in my part of the world, and have concluded that it must be down to climate and their difficulty to grow here. Like its cousins, the typical garden nasturtium will not survive the winter in my zone (around 5-6 depending); however, it is easy enough to start from seed each summer. Some will even self-seed and come back on their own the following year.
The two species I have decided to try, T. speciosum (aka Flame Flower) and T. peregrinum (aka Canary Creeper) are also not hardy, but what’s worse is that they are more difficult to start from seed. In fact, I am quickly discovering that T. speciosum is downright near impossible to germinate and can take up to a year or longer to budge! The stories I am hearing are not hopeful. I have a feeling this will be a test of wills, requiring every ounce of patience I have managed to cultivate as a gardener. T. peregrinum appears to be the easier nut to crack. Germination rates are listed at around 20-30 days.
Either way, I’d better get on starting them sooner rather than later. I’m not sure I am up for the Flame Flower Challenge, but Canary Creeper’s kung fu seems beatable. If neither work,I can always depend on good ole T. majus to make an appearance sometime in June. I’m thinking about trying a variegated variety with salmon/peach flowers called ‘Saucy Rascal’ and ‘Empress of India’ is a compact variety that I always grow in pots, no matter what.
UPDATE: T. peregrinum (aka Canary Creeper) took less than a week to germinate. All of the seeds I started germinated and the plants are now taking over my seed starting station. I had to cut them back! Meanwhile, T. speciosum continues to do nothing.
There are several pansies and violas that claim to be black, but when it comes down to it they are purple, more or less. Ever since Mr. Brown Thumb posted about his not exactly black, black viola, I have been meaning to pull out a photo of Viola cornuta ‘Black Magic’, the blackest flower I have ever seen. It lives! The black viola lives! The colour in my photo above is pretty true to life — there’s no Photoshop trickery at work here. In fact, I’d say it looks a little more purple in this light than it does on the average day. From afar it has a smoky softness about it.
I bought a single pot of it this year, and only one pot because boy did it break the bank. I’ve complained about the “Not 99 Cent Pansy” before, however this plant, this single, solitary plant, ran about $7.99.
But it was worth it. I’ve had it for over a month now and I look at it fondly every day.
Happy Summer Solstice!!!
My third article in this season’s Globe & Mail Kitchen Gardening column was published on Saturday. The topic is growing nasturtiums to eat.
One of my goals with the series is to publish articles while there is still time for as many gardeners across Canada as possible to get that particular plant into the soil (I am writing to a Canadian audience with these articles…. not easy since Canada is massive and growing conditions vary radically). As a result, my nasturtium article was published before my own plants had flowered. They still haven’t! There are lots more nasturtium varieties than can be found in the local gardening shop — I try to grow a different variety every year. This summer I am growing ‘Creamsicle.’ I can’t wait for the soft orange flowers to come up.
Meanwhile, my friend Barry was daring and put his seeds into the soil well before the last frost date for our region. As luck would have it the weather was unseasonably warm and his flowers are already up. I managed to shoot the very first open bloom on the day my article and photos were due. How’s that for timing?
Here it is:
The variety is called ‘Mahogany’.
Do you have a favorite nasturtium variety? Which variety are you trying for the first time this year?