Monday, February 21, 2011

First annual seeds of 2011: Gazania rigens 'Daybreak Pink Shades'

[Photo: Gazania rigens seeds, with Canadian penny for scale.]While native plants are my passion, I can't resist growing some annuals from seeds as well, especially since most natives need a few years to grow from seed to flowering size.

This is my first attempt at growing Gazania rigens (gazania or treasure-flower, gazanie) from seed (or any other way). Gazanias are low growing brightly coloured daisies (these ones are pink), and I'm hoping that like other daisies they will be attractive to pollinators as well as humans. G. rigens is native to South Africa and Mozambique, and grows as a weed in Australia, but has not naturalized in North America.

I was surprised by the pale yellow colour of these seeds; they don't look ripe somehow. According to the package they need a week or two of darkness to germinate, which is just as well as I haven't figured out where I'm going to set my lights up yet. They're currently sown in flats hidden in one of my kitchen cupboards!

PS: The natives I've started so far are Agastache foeniculum, Allium cernuum, Anemone virginiana, Aquilegia canadensis, Asclepias sp. (syriaca?), Asclepias tuberosa, Baptisia australis, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Desmodium canadense, and Helenium autumnale. They're stratifying in flats outdoors, hopefully they will get enough cold weather before spring starts in earnest.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowy owl in the garden!

[Photo: owl snow sculpture © Nicky Sztybel and Rosemary Amey.]Although theoretically we live in its winter range, I'm not sure if snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus, harfang des neiges) live in Toronto any more. (Apparently there are some owls here though, check out these sweet photos of owls in Toronto by Jean Iron.)

Nicky and I took advantage of the recent "extreme" snowstorm here in Toronto (which would have been considered perfectly ordinary February weather where I grew up in the Ottawa Valley) to create this snow scupture (obviously we weren't looking at an image of a real snowy owl when we did it!). The coloured parts were done with Wilton Icing Colors in Lemon Yellow, Black, and mixture of Lemon Yellow and Christmas Red, available at Bulk Barn. I don't know if I'll try adding colour to a snow sculpture again; the colour kept bleeding, and I kept having to scoop out areas and replace them with fresh snow.

Here's a nostalgia-inducing video about the snowy owl from the Canadian Wildlife Federation's classic Hinterland Who's Who series of PSAs. (Regular readers, I'm sorry I've been away from the blog so long. My fibromyalgia flared up in early autumn and for a while I forgot that I even had a garden, never mind a garden blog! And of course although this blog is supposed to be about gardening all year round, winter is not really prime gardening time in Toronto. But I'm feeling better now and have a whole backlog of photos to post, and there are exciting things coming up in terms of garlic mustard eradication in High Park later this year!)

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