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After the Storm

The past two days have been on and off thunderstorms bringing much needed rain that washed everything clean and perked up the gardens. I walked around the yard just now and here is what is looking good……

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Some of my propagation trays that currently have many Primula, Arisaema, Arum, and other assorted goodies.

 

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I just discovered this mystery Arum/Arisaema. I didn’t plant it here and I as yet don’t have any idea what it is. If anyone knows please let me know in the comments. It’s really nice but it’s growing up through a small Hosta and I’ll need to move it at some point.

 

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Not the clearest photo but I do love this Acanthus mollis. It came with me when I moved to Vermont from Massachusetts and it never fails to make me smile when it blooms. The leaves are also wonderful!

 

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Another friend that moved here with me seven years ago. Magnolia macrophylla is a beauty! I bought this from Ellen Hornig when her nursery Seneca Hill Perennials was still open. It’s now about 8 or 9 feet tall. It has never bloomed but with leaves as large as these I don’t mind. (too much) It’s plants on the stream edge so it never goes dry and seems very happy, only dying back slightly in winter, which may be why it doesn’t bloom. But I have seen a lovely mature speimen at the gardens of Cady’s Falls Nursery about an hour and a half north of here!

 

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I love my Sempervivum and so wish I had more sunny garden space to add lots more of them.

 

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A Papaver somniferum that has self-seeded into this garden. I think I will now always have them since I don’t always cut the seed heads off in time. And why would I? When I can have lovely flowers like this every year for no effort on my part what-so-ever!!

 

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Aralia ‘Sun King’ is a beautiful spot of sunshine in a shady garden. If it got just a bit more sun it would be 10 times brighter, but it’s a beauty just as it is.

 

 

 

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In the seed pots I am so happy to see how well these Podophyllum hexandrum are doing! I collected the seed for these from my plant and now I’ll have a few more to spread around.

 

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My Epiphyllum of unknown parentage is in bloom and it’s gorgeous!! I got a cutting of it a couple of years ago from a neighbor here and it has done so well even in my fairly shady house and garden.

 

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More seedling trays with loads of Primula of different species. I think these are from seed I collected at Kris Fenderson’s gardens in New Hampshire last year and they are P. bulleesiana in apricot, pink and yellow. Next year they should bloom and hopefully I’ll have lots of plants to share.

 

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One of my annual planters on the the deck with a little owl I bought last spring in Georgia while visiting my daughter.

 

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A favorite plant!! Dienanthe caerulea…Also purchased at Cady’s Falls. it’s a Hydrangea relative and is so hardy and beautiful!! I need to figure the best way to propagate it.

 

 

 

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Another houseplant. Anthurium crystalinum. It has huge leaves with a crystal dusted appearance. I first saw it at the NYBG years ago and ordered them in to sell when I worked at Ward’s Nursery in Gt. Barrington, MA. It’s an easy plant to grow but it does need a high humidity to its best, so I mist it a lot during the winter.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd for a parting shot…the rainbow after yesterdays thunder storm. There was a huge crack of thunder and it started to hail all while the sun was still shining! Next came this rainbow over the lake! I love it here!

 

A quick reminder to all compulsive collectors of seeds……keep on doing it and now is the time!! (Am I really just talking to myself here?)

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The Primula sieboldii are doing a great job producing fat seed pods this year.

 

So right now I have been checking on the Primula seed production and it’s looking pretty good. The polyanthus aren’t pulling their weight but I haven’t checked on all the plants yet.

 

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This P. polyanthus is showing a lovely and fat seed pod! But it’s the only one on the whole plant.

The P. kisoana ‘Alba’ is actually setting seed this year. With the cool and moist spring we’ve had this plant has grown quite a bit more than in past years.

 

 

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P. kisoana ‘Alba’ with some nice seed pods too.

 

And of course the P. japonica have set copious amounts of seed as they always do. I planted some new P. bulleesiana this year and I’m not expecting much seed from them, but you never know.

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The P. japonica doing what they do along the stream.

 

For those who didn’t know, I’m the seed exchange manager for the American Primrose Society, and I highly recommend joining so you can take part in the seed exchange every winter. Most of the seed you have seen in these photos and from other plants not yet setting seed will be donated to APS and other exchanges.

Please take some time to harvest your seed from any of your plants, they will be cheerfully accepted and grown by many other enthusiastic gardeners around the world.

Find out more about the APS seed exchange here.

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Today seemed like a good day to tend the Primula auricula bed by weeding, feeding and cleaning. The above photo shows the bed after I got everything all cleaned up. the plants are in full to just past full bloom. As you can see this end is getting too much shade from a large hemlock hedge, so I’ll be moving them out to the other end soon so they’ll get more sun. Right now the sunnier end is full of Primula sieboldii, Helleborus and other assorted Primula.

What follows is a sampling of the auricula that are in bloom now and what I hope to be able to increase enough of to have some to sell at future plant sales and enter in primrose shows. Most of them aren’t named…they mostly came from Susan Schnare of New Hampshire who developed a sensitivity to them and now gets a bad rash whenever she handles them too much. I sure hope that doesn’t happen to me!!

 

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The next photo shows an interesting growth in the center. It looks like it was trying to form more petals but couldn’t quite get there. I really like the fleshy-pink color.

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Next is a really pretty plum purple with great farina on the center white ring and a yellow raised crown around the tube. But too bad it’s a pin-eyed plant and not a thrum. Show quality plants must have the anthers showing at the tube and not the pistil as in this one.

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This next one is the softest pink. Susan got the seed from Leslie of Pop’s Plants in the UK and so she named it ‘Leslie’s Pink’. I love how the central eye is kind of star-shaped and it’s also a good increaser of offsets, so I should have a number of these to offer in the future.

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These next few photos show an assortment of plants all in need of cleaning up of the old leaves that are now starting to soften, yellow and rot. They must be removed so that the crown of the plant doesn’t get infected with the mold and start to also rot away.

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Here is what I’m talking about……all those browned bits must be cleaned away. The dead leaves are easy to remove by just gently pulling downward on them.

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And here is a nice clean plant. Look at all those offsets!! I could dig this plant up and gently divide it up into many smaller plants, pot them up and hopefully overwinter them for next year’s plant sales. Which I will do, but not today. That will be saved for a future post where I’ll show how to do it.

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Next comes the feeding…I use Espoma brand bulbtone granular fertilizer because it’s mostly organic and has a good portion of natural phosphorus for good root growth in addition to trace minerals and other good things. I use it on all of my flower beds. Sprinkle it around each plant and lightly work it in with a cultivator.

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Here is an offset raring to go! Look at those roots just ready to bury themselves into the soil. This is when the plants are sending out lots of fresh new roots and so it’s a good time to take offsets to increase your collection and have extras to share with friends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASharing plants with fellow gardeners is one of the joys of gardening! I dug quite a few plants today as I will be spending tuesday helping a friend dig up her Iris beds that has become something she doesn’t want to take on anymore. A couple of other people will be there and so I’m bringing plants to share and I’m sure I’ll be going home with lots of new ones! Gardeners are great that way!

I’m Back!

I know, I know….I’ve been neglecting this blog and you my readers! I had all good intentions over the winter to keep up with posts but I guess I got lazy and I was doing lots of posting on facebook….so does that count as an excuse??? I thought not. So now that the spring season is really, really here…at least it is here in Vermont, I will try my very best to add posts every now & then. This first of the season is about the latest primrose show that our New England chapter of the American Primrose Society hosted on the first weekend of May at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, Mass. What follows are a few photos I took during my few moments of free time when I wasn’t vending plants, attending meetings and slides shows and doing lots of visiting with old friends and making new ones.

All the photos are of plants that were entered into the show. I never took the time to get any photos of people!

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All the best in division winners and the best in show went to Joe Philip for the large pot of yellow hose-in-hose polyanthus.

 

 

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This mixed container was entered by Matt Mattus in the five different plants in one container class….it’s a winner!

 

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These are P. denticulata and the white one is mine…no ribbon, I just couldn’t get it to open more flowers. That was a problem for everyone this year.

 

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An auricula benched by Judy Sellers of New York who always has the most beautiful plants and usually wins many of the ribbons. You can just see the blue ribbon and the best in division ribbon this plant won.

 

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This is one of my P. rosea and it won a first! I entered another one that took a second. These primroses always open first and are the brightest pink. Some of my plants still have flowers on them and that never happens in a normal spring….but what’s normal anymore?

 

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Another winning auricula!

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Here is a P. vulgaris with a silver edging entered by Susan Schnare from New Hampshire. She grew this one from seed and it was highly coveted. Bruce Lockhart got to take it home in trade for some other primroses that Susan wanted from his garden….plant people are always looking to trade and no offer will go unconsidered.

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Another one of my plants. This is a polyanthus primrose that I bought a few years ago at Pine Knot Farms in Virginia. Every spring they hold a few open houses where some other growers set up tables to vend their plants and this one caught my eye.

 

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This plant was the talk of the show! It was benched by Debby Wheeler from Massachusetts and she got it from a cousin in Virginia. It’s not available for sale in the US yet. And we’re not sure of its hardiness but it sure is pretty!

 

One other thing!! There is now a facebook page dedicated just to all things Primula! It’s called The Primula Group click the link and you’ll be taken right to it where you can post your photos of primroses.

So there you have it…..now that I have made a new start I will promise (sort of) to get posts out more often.

What Keeps Me Going

Just a few photos today so you can see what’s going on inside while it’s rainy, windy and nasty outside.

The only Amaryllis I can get to reflower every year. I have two others that never boom but I am not giving up on them!

The only Amaryllis I can get to reflower every year. I have two others that never bloom but I am not giving up on them!

A little Primula malacoides that was grown from seed by me friend Matt Mattus. He has way better photos of these on his blog at Growing With Plants.

A little Primula malacoides that was grown from seed by my friend Matt Mattus. He has way better photos of these on his blog at Growing With Plants.

An eyelash Begonia that I've had for many years and blooms twice a year for me. It's called an 'eyelash' Begonia for its little hairs all along the outer edges of the leaves that look just like little eyelashes!
An eyelash Begonia that I’ve had for many years and blooms twice a year for me. It’s called an ‘eyelash’ Begonia for its little hairs all along the outer edges of the leaves that look just like little eyelashes!

A fuzzy photo of a ruffled Cyclamen persicum that I picked up recently the last time I visited my parents in Mass. It's still doing well and opening new flowers. Usually I kill these within a few weeks. In front of the Cyclamen in a mini Oncidium Orchid that my good friend Susan gave me just two weeks ago. It's name is 'Twinkle Little Star' and it has the most lovely fragrance!

A fuzzy photo of a ruffled Cyclamen persicum that I picked up recently the last time I visited my parents in Mass. It’s still doing well and opening new flowers. Usually I kill these within a few weeks. In front of the Cyclamen is a mini Oncidium Orchid that my good friend Susan gave me just two weeks ago. It’s name is ‘Twinkle Little Star’ and it has the most lovely fragrance!

An update on the seedlings I mentioned a few weeks ago are now growing well! Here is a selection of Primula polyanthus mostly.
An update on the seedlings I mentioned a few weeks ago are now growing well! Here is a selection of Primula polyanthus mostly.

Arisaema flavum that are looking very good.

Arisaema flavum that are looking very good.

A potful of Primula acaulis. A few of the seedlings shriveled up and died for no apparent reason. The rest look fine so I don't think it was damping-off.

A potful of Primula acaulis. A few of the seedlings shriveled up and died for no apparent reason. The rest look fine so I don’t think it was damping-off.

A newly sprouted Cyclamen graecum seedling. I got the seeds for these from a member of one of the plant groups I belong to either the Hellebore group or Trillium group. He offered an assortment of seed to the members who had something interesting in trade. Most of his seed was wild collected so it should be interesting to see what comes of these.

A newly sprouted Cyclamen graecum seedling. I got the seeds for these from a member of one of the plant groups I belong to either the Hellebore group or Trillium group. He offered an assortment of seed to the members who had something interesting in trade. Most of his seed was wild collected so it should be interesting to see what comes of these. He comes from Italy and does a bit of wandering over the mountains botanizing and collecting seed. I also have a pot of Arum seedlings just sprouting that I got from him.

Cyclamen hederifolium seedlings just emerging. I got the seed for these from the APS seed exchange this year. The main round is almost over, but the second round will start March 1st and anyone can order seed....no membership in APS required!

Cyclamen hederifolium seedlings just emerging. I got the seed for these from the APS seed exchange this year. The main round is almost over, but the second round will start March 1st and anyone can order seed….no membership in APS required! check the seed list here.

One last photo that I took when I returned from the gym this morning. The sight of the snow hanging off the eaves always gives me the heebie jeebies! I’m just afraid one day I’ll be opening the kitchen door and get pounded flat by it! So far……so good

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On rotten February days like these we need to keep reminding ourselves that spring will come when it comes and not a moment sooner and by taking in the beauty all around us in nature and what we can make ourselves helps so much to keep us/me sane and looking forward to next thing to come along!

It Begins Again

A new season of sowing seeds, watching, waiting and becoming so excited at every seed that sprouts even though I’ve been doing this for over 30 years!! I’m like a child again, checking under the clear humidity domes for any sign of life. Going back multiple times a day sure that NOW there will be some hints of green. And today…..there it is!!

Arisaema flavens from seed I ordered through the NARGS seed-ex last year.

Arisaema flavens from seed I ordered through the NARGS seed-ex last year.

I sowed this seed on the 6th of this month and finally it has sprouted. I had a feeling these would be the first up and sure enough they were! This pot is surrounded by Primula, Dodecatheon, Anemone, Lilium, Rhododendron and Asarum. All seed obtained last year. I aways sow the older seed first because I can’t stand to throw any out.

My lightstand getting very full and will be overflowing soon!

My lightstand getting very full and will be overflowing soon!

My light stand is already almost full and I am still waiting on this years NARGS seed order which will have 30 packets! So this means that some of the already sown pots will be heading out side to endure the below freezing temps we are getting through the end of this month. Here’s a shot of my back yard this morning where the temperature is now at 0*f  up from minus 8!

The back yard overlooking Beebe Pond. Just below this window is where the seed tray will go once I have run out of room under the lights.

The back yard overlooking Beebe Pond. Just below this window is where the seed trays will go once I have run out of room under the lights.

Spring will arrive before we know it, but until then I will be keeping you up to date on my seed sprouting adventures!

Seed Exchange Time

Seed that donated or bought in for the exchange.

Seed that was donated or bought in for the exchange.

The time has come to get busy sorting and packeting seed for the American Primrose Society seed exchange which I have been the manager of for the past three years. The seed has been ordered from a number of good companies and donations have all arrived from very generous members who have taken the time to collect, clean, label and send their precious seed to me so it can be distributed to members of the society all over the world!

During the short and cold days of winter I have lots of free time between the growing seasons to spend a few hours a week on this important and valuable task which is a great resource for folks to obtain seed of so many species of Primula that you can’t find anywhere else!

 

 

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P. sieboldii comes in so many different forms and colors.

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P. polyanthus Gold Laced are very coveted plants that wins many ribbons at the shows when grown to exacting standards.

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P. polyanthus Garnet Cowichan grown from seed from Barnhaven Primroses of France with the best seed available and the APS seed exchange offers many of them!

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The rare and prized P. kisoana ‘Alba’ grows and spreads by stolons just under the soil surface and loves a nice moist and shady spot. Here it growing along the edge of the stream that runs through my property.

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P. kisoana the sister of the previous white form. This one spreads much faster and creates a lovely groundcover fairly quickly.

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There is seed of the Barnhaven Double Primroses on this years APS seed list which you will find here. Not every seed will become a double form but if any turn out as nice as this one it’s all worth it! Friend and fellow Primula nut, Arlene Perkins gave a piece of this plant to me a few years ago which she named ‘Agnes’ for a good friend of hers.

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And of course there will be seed for many different P. auricula! I grew this one a few years ago from APS seed and it has always performed well for me.

Primula are really so easy from seed that more people should be growing them. There are many species that are very hardy and will survive winters up to at least US zone 4 without any protection! I will be testing that statement this winter as I never got around to covering my flats of seedlings and potted plants this fall. Right now they’re covered with a good layer of fresh snow, so I’m hoping that will stay around long enough to keep them well insulated against any deep freezes we are sure to get and have already gotten this fall!

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Trays and trays of plants and seed pots waiting for a good layer of snow because I was too lazy to give them a warm fleece blanket and layers of tarps.

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One of the coldframes full of P. auricula, cyclamen and other treasures.

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One of my propagation beds full of P. auricula, Hellebores, P. sieboldii and others. These will winter just fine without protection and have grown so well here in partial shade.

Almost all Primula seed can be sown either in late fall or through the winter on top of moistened potting mix, covered with a thin layer of chicken grit and then placed outside to experience all the weather winter will throw at them with germination in the spring as the temps warm up. Easy as that! Only a few should be sown indoors and kept under lights or in a sunny window or if you’re lucky enough…a greenhouse.
I sow so many seeds through the winter that I order through APS or NARGS that I am kept very busy during this ‘down time’ until the nursery opens in April.

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Spring is such a wonderful time for the gardener and seed sower…so much anticipation and expectation! Every morning is spent patrolling the gardens and nursery for signs of growth and when those first green shoots appear from something more unusual and exotic that was sown during the depths of winter, the feeling is fantastic!

Here are a few parting photos of Primula just to get you to take a look at the APS seed list and start dreaming about all the possibilities!

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P.japonica seeds around and comes in so many different colors.

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P. vulgaris

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P. vulgaris ‘Belarina Series Nectarine’

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P. vulgaris double form

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P. auricula cross from Susan Schnare.

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