Apr 17, 2014

Growing Me A Serpent!


Yes, its been awhile! Been busy the past month: recuperating from next thing to pneumonia, planting up four odd thousand Pelargonium and assorted bedding plants, hanging baskets and containers, and waiting ever so patiently for Spring to decided that she wants to grace us with her presence – for longer than a three day stretch! Oh yeah, and I’ve also been growing a serpent in my room! Now before you go to an entirely inappropriate place, let me explain…..

972327_10202610947847869_824271155732805354_nMeet Arisaema griffithii – my latest obsession in what is one of my Top Three favourite genera! Our native A. triphyllum was the very first plant that I learned to recognize during walks in the ‘Darkling Wood’ with my Grandparents, and over the years I have steadily grown more fascinated with their serpentine beauty!

1661572_10202628278521125_3224753576440360689_n1506892_10202641426249810_3325881843817853323_nPerhaps the most sinister and hard to describe within the genus, it emerged from the ground like a giant claw! At first I was worried that I was going to witness the birth of a dragon [in no small part thanks to the over active imagination inspired by GoT] but alas, no. You can make out the distinct spathe nestled among the tall, sturdy foliage in the photo above. The rubbery sheath in the background was a stunning opalescent silvery pearl like purple. It reminded me of a recently discarded skin – more snakishly serpentine than dragonesque!

1779144_10202653417829592_722124983846657487_n   Like all within the genus, it has a long thin spadix that looks like a tongue! Its spathe is a stunning presence: It seems to want to curve down over itself, giving it a rounded appearance. I want to describe its coloration as a deep wine with lime green and white stripes and mottling, but this truly is a case where words cannot but fail. 10151820_10202653418669613_4055669797524964424_n (1)

As with most of my most beloved, he is not reliably hardy here – I have read posts about it being hardy in Zone 7 – and as such he is going to live in a pot for the season, and spend the winter months in a newly installed ‘plant’ fridge. He came to be as a large bulb, at least the size of my fist, and I have noticed that some of my other blogging friends have bought it as well.

Is anyone else familiar with this serpentine beauty? Do tell! Hoping that this weekend brings warmer weather. I am three weeks behind in my own garden, not to mention the outdoor perennial, tree and shrub section at work. It might be mid May before I am able to return, but fear not.

Awesome congrats to Grace on the recent publication of her new gardening memoir – waiting for mine to ship from Amazon!


Mar 16, 2014

Is it the Ice, or the Branches, or even Coyotes?


Some claim it was a high pitched breaking of the ice in the river, other are leaning more to the idea that it was a series of branches all snapping off at the same time, while the more imaginative, exercise minded think it was a pack of coyotes hidden from view along the Cataract Trail between Fergus and Elora! All in all at approximately three fifteen on Friday, March 14, 2014, a series of high pitched ‘squeals’ could be heard along a section of South River Road in Elora. Nothing like getting the local tongues wagging! It has after all been a monotonously long winter! It doesn’t hurt to let people have their own opinion, but some of us know otherwise!

Its getting to be that time of year again! Granted, with the barrage of ice and snow that greets me every morning on the way to work, not to mention the completely buried perennial department, it would be very easy to think otherwise, BUT, when you get a new shipment filled with the intoxicating beauty and goodness of new and exciting perennial treasures with which to stock up your perennial benches once Mother Nature releases us from her icy grip. [Why in my mind does she appear as Angelina Jolie in the trailers from Maleficent?] one might not be able to control said squeals of delight!

1901969_606351652783593_1289445130_nI recently celebrated my first anniversary at Cedar Spring Nursery. I cannot believe its gone by as quickly as it has, nor can I believe that I’ve only known Jon and Sasha for only one year! I am sure in past lives we might have been considered the Three Musketeers, or is it more likely to be the Three Stooges? Regardless, part of the vision and mandate that I brought to the table was to ramp up the perennials, tree and shrub department – and what better way of getting our loyal clients to sit up and take notice, than by tempting and tantalizing the horticultural perennial weakness that exists in ALL gardeners! If last year was about getting my feet wet, 2014 is about the full immersion!

1979644_606351582783600_297966890_nSo, what exactly is all the excitement about? What plant or plants might actually inspire me to screech like a banshee? How about one of my all-time favourite Arisaema species?

0-arisaema-sikokianum-1-800Ariseaema sikokianum is one of those breathtakingly beautiful rare oddities guaranteed to leave visitors, well, short of a better term, squealing with delight when they stumble across it in your woodland garden. Its sublime spathe becomes cowl shaped, housing a spadix that most describe as a pristine golf ball perched precariously on a tee, awaiting the first game of the season. Its typical trifoliate foliage is sometimes embossed with pewter inlays, making these mutated few even more sought after.

5774_0_Aconitum-napellus-RubellumI have always been an advocate of Aconitum in the garden, and toxicity aside, this delightful pink flowering species, Aconitum napellus ‘Rubellum’ is a stand out when interspersed among its purple and yellow flowering cousins!

DSC_0207_thumb[6]I grow only two species of the genus Lilium in my garden, partly due to the arrival of the insipid Japanese Lily Beetle, but more so because I’m not a fan of most. Lilium martagon is also known as the ‘turkscap’ lily, with its delicate pink, white or purple flowers, each with reflexed petals, on stems that can reach 2m in height. The candelabra effect can be mesmerizing when you are witnessing up to thirty flowers on one plant! Patience is a virtue with this beauty, as mine took five years to bloom….. BUT, having witnessed the luscious size of the bulbs we just planted, I can guarantee that you’ll have blooms inside of three years! Its like the old slogan for Heinz ketchup…… ANTICIPATION!

lilium napalense Lilium napalense is a staggeringly beautiful plant! As its name suggests, it is native to Nepal, making it a full fledged member of the Zonal Denial club, but fear not…… treat it as you would a Begonia or any other bulb that is lifted for the winter. Mine has yet to bloom, but has survived quite candidly in my small bar/bulb refrigerator for the past two seasons! Similar in height to L. martagon, given time, space and the exact growth requirements that it demands [it RESENTS wet feet] you can soon have visitors lining the sidewalk begging for an intimate introduction to this true connoisseur inspired plant!

peony-suffruticosa-Kokuryu-Nishiki-Tree-Peony-Strauchpfingstrose-image_galerie_gross_large My steadfast inclination towards the rare and unusual definitely extends to the Paeonia species that I cultivate in my own garden. ‘Molly the Witch’ [P. mlokosewitschii] and ‘Going Bananas,’ a sublime single yellow flowered ITOH hybrid are two of my most prized treasures. When I spotted Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kokuryu Nishiki’ in my travels along the internet, I knew of a select few gardeners who would jump at the opportunity to grow this intoxicating selection. As a member of the ‘suffruticosa’ or tree peony family, this plant is completely different from the ubiquitous garden varieties that your Grandmother grew. These plants, while not precisely ‘trees’ do grow like a mid-sized shrub, with woody stems that persist from year to year. In their native Japan they are extremely long lived, some reputed to be over two hundred years old! This particular selection boasts deep wine infused flowers that have delicate white painted edges. It may attain heights of 2m, but this may take decades in order to achieve. Our potted selections are two year old seedlings. And while on the topic of the genus Paeonia, I had a number of clients requesting my final new selection of the week:

fern leaf paeoniaPaeonia tenuifolia ‘Itoba’ is the true feather fern leaf Peony that holds its fans enraptured year after year! Methinks it has everything to do with its delicate green/blue foliage, which is a marked contrast from any other members of this ubiquitous garden favoured genus! I love the single red flowers, with the golden explosion of stamens in the centre of each flower, but I’m also known as a bit of an oddity in the garden community so what do I know?

I already introduced the stunning beauty below – Sanguinaria canadensis var. ‘Multiplex’ – a sublime double flowering species of our native ‘bloodroot,’ but thought it deserved a placement among the newest treasures that you’ll find at Cedar Spring Nursery this Spring. I can hardly wait to see what this coming week’s deliveries reveal….. stay tuned!


Feb 18, 2014

You’ve Done Something Right When…..

DSC_0328DSC_0326There comes a moment for all gardeners, when, against their better judgment, they lead with their hearts instead of their heads! Such was the case when I found myself the proud parent to Slytherin – a supurb serpentine [hence his name!] form of Cedrus atlantica ‘Pendula’ – known to some as the weeping form of the Blue Atlas Cedar. I’d been pining for it for many years, and when it came across the inventory list of one of our chief suppliers, I quickly sold my soul to the devil! Those familiar with this divine botanical rarity know that its hardiness is attuned to a grow zone of 6 or better! Last time I looked, Teza’s Garden was firmly entrenched in zone 5 at best! Those who know me also understand that for me numbers represent challenges at best! The King of Zonal Denial is also the King of Wishful Thinking! ‘Slytherin’ resided in a large pot on my veranda for the summer where he drew gasps of delight from all who approached my door. With the onset of cold weather it was decided that he would spend the winter in the store at the nursery. I had [ever so briefly] toyed with the notion of leaving him outdoors, to be decorated for the holidays, but could not risk the thought of losing him! He shed quite a few needles as he acclimatized himself to temperatures that were more like Zone 7 – and for a few weeks I watched over him like a concerned parent whose child has just discovered their independence. And then this happened……

DSC_0323DSC_0333It wasn’t like they appeared overnight – in actuality there were a few tiny green nubs when I transported him to his new home, but in the ensuing months, his cones have grown not only in size but also in number. They make me so happy! As does the abundance of new growth that has made his needle shed less troublesome! He truly is something special!

DSC_0330 Funny thing is, when my employers spotted him coming off the truck back in May, they were equally smitten and shortly thereafter…..

DSC_0334… well lets just say that one can never have too much of a good thing. This one resided upon a plinth next to the front entrance sign to the nursery where he drew curious garden type people to him like a magnet. I loved when joggers were stopped in their tracks, or else they jogged past and then turned and came back for a double take! I’ve learned over the past year that if you tantalize your customer base with a few rare and unusual treasures, its often better than a year of paid advertising!

In the meantime, the first of the seedlings have arrived and are planted up, and we’re still waiting for the first thaw of the year!