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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.

I took these photos about a week ago. I walked the gardens just now and they are all still blooming!! Ain’t gardening great? Some are looking a bit tired and ragged, but blooms are blooms and it IS November 17th for cripes sake!!

Here in the front garden right off the kitchen steps we will begin our tour……

Lamium maculatum. Pink in front and a new white one in back. these are seedlings from an original 'Orchid Frost' I brought home five years ago.

Lamium maculatum. Pink in front and a new white one in back. These are seedlings from an original ‘Orchid Frost’ I brought home five years ago. I dig the plants up and use them in my mixed containers.

Viola cornuta. this is a sweet violet that I dug up from the floor of the greenhouse at work last spring! It has been blooming all summer!

Viola cornuta. This is a sweet violet that I dug up from the floor of the greenhouse at work last spring! It has been blooming all summer!

 

Gentiana x macaulyi 'Kingfisher' this showed up in a previous post, but it's still blooming with at least 6 flowers on it today!

Gentiana x macaulyi ‘Kingfisher’ this showed up in a previous post, but it’s still blooming with at least 6 flowers on it today!

A very ratty Primula vulgaris pink rose form that has been in bloom all fall. I grew this from seed I recieved throught the APS seed-exchange a couple years ago.

A very ratty Primula vulgaris pink rose form that has been in bloom all fall. I grew this from seed I recieved through the APS seed-exchange a couple years ago.

And now on to the small rock garden and sunny streamside garden.

Sedum sieboldii. A really great sedum that blooms so late and doesn't spread rampantly like a few others I had to remove from this garden.

Sedum sieboldii. A really great sedum that blooms so late and doesn’t spread rampantly like a few others I had to remove from this garden.

Orostachys iwarenge. One of the coolest succulents I know. It's also called Duncecaps for the long and pointy flower heads it grows. Earlier in it's bloom it is covered in bees.

Orostachys iwarenge. One of the coolest succulents I know. It’s also called Duncecaps for the long and pointy flower heads it grows. Earlier in it’s bloom it is covered with bees.

And in the streamside garden which I have cut back since taking this photo is a total surprise in the Nicotiana still looking good after a few frosts and a hard freeze!

Nicotiana langsdorfii which has seeded all over this bed is still amazingly looking very good! It's in front of a Magnolia macrophylla that I bought from Ellen Hornig of Seneca Hill Fame. It is enlarging very slowly and I'm pretty sure it will never bloom here but I don't mind, with those leaves who cares?

Nicotiana langsdorfii which has seeded all over this bed is still amazingly looking very good! It’s in front of a Magnolia macrophylla that I bought from Ellen Hornig of Seneca Hill fame many years ago….before I moved to Vermont. It is enlarging very slowly and I’m pretty sure it will never bloom here but I don’t mind, with those leaves who cares?

Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa' the latest blooming Allium you can buy...I think. I also have the white form but it was hidden when I took these photos by a Filipendula aurea. I have divided this plant many times and now have clumps of it all up and down this sunny border as well as potted for sale.

Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ the latest blooming Allium you can buy…I think. I also have the white form but it was hidden when I took these photos by a Filipendula aurea. I have divided this plant many times and now have clumps of it all up and down this sunny border as well as potted for sale.

And now onto the shadier woodland gardens on the far side of the house and down the stream where the giant Hemlocks dominate.

Spiranthes cernua or Nodding Ladies Tresses. a hardy terrestrial orchid that is native to the Northeast. I bought this from a wonderful grower at the New York Flower Show this spring. Her nursery Wild things Rescue Nursery is full of natives hardy for the colder climates.

Spiranthes cernua or Nodding Ladies Tresses. a hardy terrestrial orchid that is native to the Northeast. I bought this from a wonderful grower at the New York Flower Show this spring. Her nursery Wild Things Rescue Nursery is full of natives hardy for the colder climates.

Cyclamen hederifolium deep pink from John Lonsdale in PA.

Cyclamen hederifolium deep pink from John Lonsdale in PA. This one was also in a previous post and here it is weeks later still in bloom! The cyclamens planted here are doing really well. they get a good dry, dormant period here for the summer.

Moving along to the garage garden on my in-laws property where I grow a number of Primula auricula given to me by my good friend Susan. She had to stop growing them because she became sensitive to the primulin in the leaves and stems. It’s a substance that some people develop a sensitivity to and causes severe dermatitis. Susan is a wonderful grower of Primula auricula and I can only hope to be half as good as she is.

Primula auricula with a surprise late flower stem. I hope it will still have blooms in the spring. the flowers are very large on this one.

Primula auricula with a surprise late flower stem. I hope it will still have blooms in the spring. the flowers are very large on this one.

Now we are around to the lake side of the cottage and here is that Aconitum arendsii hanging on to its last few flowers.

Aconitum arendsii overlooking the lake.

Aconitum arendsii overlooking the lake. You can see our dock at the waterfront.

And lastly in my little nursery is a couple of potted Dendranthema ‘Sheffield’ that had been given to me by another good friend. I planted it into the sunny border where it proceeded to take over the world! This summer I spent long hours eradicating it from said bed and potted up a bunch of it to sell at the fall sale at Tower Hill. The two pots that are left I will split in the spring. The color of this one is so soothing and blends well with everything.

Dendranthema 'Sheffield' a very late blooming shasta-type daisy. Great for cut flowers and if you have a large area to fill in. On the far side of the stream is a huge area of the so-called Ditch-Lily. That 'wild' Hemerocallis that seems to be everywhere along the roadsides. I want to take it out and wonder if D. 'Sheffield' will be up to the task.

Dendranthema ‘Sheffield’ a very late blooming shasta-type daisy. Great for cut flowers and if you have a large area to fill in. On the far side of the stream is a huge area of the so-called Ditch-Lily. That ‘wild’ Hemerocallis that seems to be everywhere along the roadsides. I want to take it out and wonder if D. ‘Sheffield’ will be up to the task.

 

Well there you have it. This late in the season and still a bit of color out in the borders! What will this mean for flowers in the spring? More or less or none at all on these plants that don’t usually flower this late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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