Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seedy Saturday native plant seed haul!

[Photo: packets of native plant seeds purchased at Seedy Saturday]Just got back from my first Seedy Saturday. It was very vegetable-oriented, which I expected, and very crowded and noisy, which I didn't expect. But I got some great native plant seeds:

From the North American Native Plant Society, at the unbeatable price of 50 cents a packet:

  • Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
  • Eupatorium purpurea (sweet Joe Pye weed)
  • Helenium autumnale (sneezeweed)
  • Lobelia syphilitica (great blue lobelia)
  • Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)
  • Zizia aurea (golden Alexander)

From Wall Flower Studio Seeds:

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the venue, Artscape Wychwood Barns, includes a greenhouse, where the trays of seedlings lifted my sprits.

Spring is here!

[Photo: bulb (or something) sprouting in Toronto, February 28!]It sure doesn't feel like spring today (it was something like -15° with windchill) but look what I noticed in someone's front yard on Christie!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Seedy Saturday is tomorrow!

I just found out that Toronto's Seedy Saturday is tomorrow! I've never been, so I can't say much about it, but it looks like fun. Of course, I've already got more seeds that I can plant, but I would like to see if I can find more native plants.

Thursday, February 26, 2009



Lycianthes rantonnetii

[Photo: Lycianthese rantonnettii.]Lycianthes rantonnetii, known in English as blue potato bush, Paraguay nightshade, or blue lycianthes, and in French as arbre à gentiane, is a shrub native to Paraguay and Argentina, with small (2-3 cm) blue-violet flowers.

In Toronto, it must be grown indoors, like this standard at Allan Gardens.

Abutilon megapotamicum

p[Photo: Abutilon megapotamicum.]Abutilon megapotamicum, known in English as trailing abutilon or Chinese lanterns, and in French as abutilon du grand fleuve or abutilon grimpant is a shrub native to Brazil with nifty bright red and yellow flowers.

These Chinese lanterns are not cold-hardy and (in Toronto) have to be grown indoors, unlike another plant also known as Chinese lanterns, Physalis alkekengi. I photographed this Abutilon megapotamicum at Allan Gardens.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pachystachys lutea

[Photo: Pachystachys lutea in bloom]Pachystachys lutea, known in English as golden shrimp plant or lollipop plant and in French as panache d'officier or pachystachys jaune, is a tender evergreen shrub with spikes of white flowers emerging from bright yellow bracts.

Here in Toronto, this tropical flower must be grown indoors. I photographed this specimen at Allan Gardens.

Solanum pseudocapsicum

[Photo: Solanum pseudocapsicum.]Solanum pseudocapsicum, known in English as Jerusalem cherry or Madeira winter cherry and in French as pommier d'amour, is a tropical perennial related to tomatoes. Unlike tomatoes, its fruit are strictly ornamental; they are poisonous for humans, cats, dogs, and birds.

In Toronto, Jerusalem cherry must be grown indoors during the cold seasons. These plants were photographed at Allan Gardens.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rhododendron simsii

Rhododendron simsii, known in English as Indian azalea and in French as azalé de l'Inde and azalé de Formose, is an evergreen shrub from Asia grown for its masses of pink, white, red, or mauve blossoms.

Not surprisingly, Indian azalea is not hardy enough to withstand Toronto winters. It can, however, be grown as a houseplant, and spend summers outside if desired. I photographed these azaleas at Allan Gardens. And of course, there are hardy azaleas available.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adiantum aethiopicum

Adiantum aethiopicum spp, known in English as common maidenhair fern is a tropical perennial fern native to Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The fronds have delicate fan-shaped leaflets on black, hair-like stems.

In Toronto, this maidenhair can be grown only indoors (I photographed this speciment at Allan Gardens); however, there is another beautiful maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum, which is a Canadian native growing across the country from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia.

Agave multifilifera

[Photo: Agave multifilifera.]Agave multifilifera, known in English and French as chahuiqui, is a succulent with a rosette of dark green spiky leaves ornamented with curly white hairs on the edges. Like all agaves, it dies after flowering and producing fruit.

This is another hot-climate plant that Torontonians must grow indoors. The plants above were photographed in the succulent and cactus greenhouse at Allan Gardens.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Beautiful video of flowers opening.

I'm always amazed by the movements plants make as shown in time-lapse photography like this.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fuchsia sp.: flower

[Photo: Fuchsia sp.]Fuchsia is a genus of plants, mostly shrubs, native to South America, Central America, New Zealand, and Tahiti. They are grown for their numerous showy, dangling flowers, in shades of fuchsia (of course), purple, white. These tropical plants can go outside during the Toronto summer and make pretty houseplants the rest of the year. This blossom was photographed in Allan Gardens' greenhouse.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Agave angustifolia var. variegata

[Photo: Agave angustifolia var. variegata.]Agave angustifolia var. variegata, known in English as variegated Caribbean agave and in French by the genus name, is an evergreen succulent which dies after blooming.

This is another beautiful plant that can't survive Toronto winters except as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. I took this picture in the Allan Gardens conservatory.

Echinocactus grusonii

Echinocactus grusonii, known in English as "golden barrel cactus", "golden ball", or "mother-in-law's cushion", and in French as coussin de belle-mère, is a fast-growing roughly spherical cactus native to Mexico. Golden barrel cactus can reach a diameter of up to a metre. Although it is popular in cultivation because it is easy to grow, it has become rare in its native habitat. The flowers, the remains of which can be seen in the photo above, are yellow.

In Toronto, golden barrel cactus may be grown as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. This photo was taken in the Allan Gardens conservatory.

Cleistocactus winteri

Cleistocactus winteri, known in English as "golden rat tail", is a low-growing, sprawling cactus native to South America. It has showy reddish-orange or fuchsia flowers (which I have never seen in real life, but here are some images courtesy of Google).

In Toronto, golden rat tail is grown as a houseplant or in a greenhouse, like this specimen at Allan Gardens.


Bougainvillea, known as bougainvillée or bougainvillier in French, is a genus of woody vines native to South America, whose insignificant flowers are surrounded by very showy coloured bracts, in pink, red, orange, yellow, white, or purple.

Bougainvillea is not hardy enough to survive Toronto winters outside, but it can grow outside in the summer and move indoors for the winter. My dad grew a lovely bougainvillea as a houseplant. The specimen shown is in a greenhouse at Allan Gardens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Euphorbia milii

[Photo: Euphorbia milii.] Euphorbia milii, known in English as "crown of thorns", "Christ plant", or "Siamese lucky plant", and in French as couronne d'épines, couronne de Christ, or épine de Christ, is a viciously thorny shrub native to Madagascar. The small flowers are surrounded by red, pink, or white bracts. [Photo: close-up of Euphorbia milii.]

This is another tropical which is nowhere near hardy enough to grow in Toronto, except as a houseplant or better still in a greenhouse (this one's in the Allan Gardens conservatory). Because it's poisonous and the thorns would be hard to live with, I think I'll just admire it from afar.

Brunfelsia pauciflora: flowers

Brunfelsia pauciflora, known in English as "yesterday, today and tomorrow" or "lady of the night" and in French as brunfelsie pauciflore is an evergreen shrub native to Brazil. The English name "yesterday, today and tomorrow" refers to an unusual property of the flowers—they change colour daily from purple to mauve to white.

Since this is a tropical plant, it's not going to survive outside in Toronto for long (it can be grown as a houseplant, or in a greenhouse like this specimen at Allan Gardens). Even with the right conditions, describes Brunfelsia as being "high maintenance". It's also poisonous according to many sources. So I don't think I'll be attempting to grow this flower, beautiful as it is, any time soon.

Rosmarinus officinalis: in bloom!

[Photo: Rosmarinus officinalis in bloom]Rosmarinus officinalis, known in English as rosemary and in French as romarin, is a tender woody perennial native to the Mediterranean region. Its fragrant, greyish, thin, needle-like leaves are used as a culinary herb. The flowers are pale blue.

Rosemary is not hardy enough to survive Toronto winters. It can be grown in the garden as an annual, which I tried last year. It never got very large, 30 cm at best, and of course it's dead now. Rosemary can also be grown as a houseplant, though some find it a struggle. My first boyfriend managed to quickly kill the rosemary plant he tried growing in his dorm room for sentimental reasons, probably a combination of insufficient light and too much heat in the winter. (I married him anyway.)

The rosemary plant at my parents' house on the other hand lived for years. It too never got very big, about 30 cm, and never bloomed. My budgie enjoyed nibbling on it.

The rosemary in the photo is the biggest, most beautiful rosemary plant I have ever seen, and the first time I have seen rosemary in bloom in real life! It's growing in the Allan Garden's conservatory. I'm not sure if it's even possible to grow a rosemary plant this big (well over a metre) in Toronto without a greenhouse.

If you want to see it in person, after entering the centre greenhouse go through the door on the left to the next greenhouse (the one with the pool and the statue of Leda and the swan). The rosemary is in the centre bed.

Ambitious indoor gardeners in Toronto may be inspired by this goregous rosemary bonsai! If I had a sunny window I'd like to try this myself.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Allan Gardens: a tropical escape from Toronto's winter!

[Photo: exterior of Allan Gardens greenhouses.] This Sunday I spent an enjoyable hour on a tropical vacation, at the Allan Gardens greenhouses, located on Carlton east of Jarvis. (Not only a convenient location for me, but free too!) [Photo: entry hall of Allan Gardens greenhouses.]The entrance features a high domed ceiling and some very large plants. The tree on the left is a common screw pine (Pandanus utilis). In the background you can see the very large leaves of a banana tree (Musa spp.). [Photo: south greenhouse.]In the greenhouse south of the entrance hall, seasonal bedding provides a carpet of colour beneath the larger permanent residents. Currently the bedding plants include azaleas (Rhododendron spp.), Cyclamen, daffodils (Narcissus spp.), and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.), with tulips (Tulipa spp.) and Crocus in bud. [Photo: pond in the south greenhouse.]Also in the south greenhouse, a pond features a statue of Leda and the swan. The white frond like things in the background are actually ornamental cabbage or kale (Brassica oleracea) which has bolted. In person they looked like little white Christmas trees. [Photo: cacti and succulents house.]In a greenhouse to the north of the entrance is a collection of cacti and other succulents.

I've got close-ups of some individual plants in the Allan Gardens greenhouses. I'll be posting them with short profiles as time permits.

Learn more about Allan Gardens:

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin