Hepatica nobolis is a tiny early blooming woodland plant that does well as an under-planting and doesn’t seem to mind a bit of dryness now and again. I rarely see it in use — it seems to be overlooked in favor of the larger, more colorful bulbs that flower around the same time. Or perhaps it is because there is a general (and wrong) belief that woodland plants are boring?
I’ve posted here about a similar white-flowered hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) previously, but have to admit I prefer the more colorful species like the one above.
Last fall my friend Barry put me onto pots of green and purple ‘Holy’ basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) for sale at a neighbourhood Indian food store. ‘Holy’ basil, also known as Tulsi, is a beautiful herb that brightens a dull spot in the garden. It’s a tough, woody plant with textured leaves that can take a lot of heat and a little bit of drought, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking to grow a culinary basil. It has a very potent smell and flavour and is more commonly used as a medicinal remedy than a meal enhancer.
I intended to post about the plant here months back, but as sometimes happens, I neglected to get a good photo before the frost hit and to top it off I left the plant outside to die rather than overwintering it indoors. And even though I wasn’t going to tell this part of the story, now that I’ve exposed my neglect, I feel a guilt-ridden need to explain that the reason I didn’t bring it inside was because we were going away for a month and I didn’t want to overburden my friends with millions of plants to keep alive on top of the thousands I already have.
Passively allowing tender plants to die outdoors at the end of the season is a gardeners’ dirty little secret. Just about everyone does it, but few admit it. Many of us feel guilty about it, although in my case I suspect it has more to do with throwing away money than intentionally killing a plant.
But I digress. What I really intended to say was that as luck might have it, a month or so after the “killing frost”, I came upon the plant in this photo, growing on a farm in St. Lucia. It may not have been my plant, but I got the photo I had hoped for. And like most basil plants grown in a tropical climate, the thing was huge, much larger than any basil I could grow here in Toronto.
I love this little-big flower, Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant.’ The name is confusing here (if not a bit of a stretch) as it speaks to the flower size in relation to others in its species rather than within the crocus world as a whole. It is actually a cute little cup of a thing, much smaller than the big hybrids you see available as a forced potted bulb this time of year.
It is so graceful with its long, stretching neck and petals that open wide in the sun. I took this photo on a cheerfully bright afternoon last week and it was a delight to see them in exactly the same state today, nearly a week later.
In August 1979 a massive hurricane hit the small island of Dominica, devastating just about everything in its path including homes, roads, crops, trees, and even leaving mountaintops bare.
Amazingly, in the wake of all of that destruction, the hurricane left behind a new plant, Spathoglottis plicata, an Asian ground orchid that can now be seen all over the island. It was named David’s orchid to remember the hurricane that brought it.