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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back, Part 1

Not much happening here in the gardens except putting the borders to bed, getting the tender plants inside and into the basement. So I thought this might be a good time to reminisce about the past year in multiple parts. Come along with me as we revisit some of the places I’ve been and things I’ve done this past year.

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I’m going to start with one of the most recent….the Montreal Botanical Gardens and the Mosaicultures Exhibit. This is an international competition started in 1998. “Its mission is to promote gardening and horticulture as both an expression of new millennium values and a vital component of the urban landscape”. It’s held in a different venue every 3 years.

Steve & I planned a short anniversary trip in September up to see this fantastic exhibit that I had been hearing & reading about all summer. A hotel was booked right nearby and the route was planned.

The day we got there had to be the hottest of the year, up into the 90′s! We started out first thing in the morning and decided to see the hothouses first before it got too hot & crowded….good decision! The following are a few photos from the conservatories.

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After our pretty private tour of the greenhouses out we went to discover what this Mosaiculture thing was all about. And WOW were we in awe and wonder!! Just take a look!

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And this is just a select few! There were many others that we didn’t see and loads more that I didn’t get good photos of. The most amazing one..in my opinion..was the ‘Bird Tree’. Unfortunately the crew was working on it so we couldn’t get a pristine view of it…but stupendous all the same. All of the sculptures are formed from a mesh that small rooted plugs of mostly brightly colored foliage is then inserted following a precise pattern to create each block of color.

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We then wandered about the gardens. I really wanted to see the famed Alpine Garden, while it was huge and impressive, it will be much better to see it in the spring when the early blooming plants & bulbs are in their glory.

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We also toured the Chinese gardens which were beautiful with a Koi pond and pavilions.

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See the slanted building in the background? That’s part of the Olympic Park right across the street!

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We also strolled through the woodland gardens which had a really beautiful Monkshood in full bloom and some huge Hosta specimens. This garden would also be best seen in the spring.

So plans will be made to get back to Montreal next spring to see this great botanic garden again and perhaps tour the old city.

Am I Blue?

I was having a sort of blue day earlier when my camera battery died and I couldn’t find the charger or my other camera…..I think Steve has borrowed it. Very frustrating. So I walked around the gardens anyway looking at what was in bloom, and don’t you know it was mainly blue flowers! My garden & I were in sync. Although there weren’t many of them they were so very welcome indeed!

This fantastic plant is lighting up the front border!

This fantastic plant is lighting up the front border!

Gentiana x macaulayi ‘Kingfisher’ purchased a few years ago at Cady’s Falls Nursery in Morrisville, VT. There are more flowers on than ever and it has been in bloom for a few weeks already. This extended fall has been so great! Cady’s Falls is the nursery that all of us at Rocky Dale Gardens look forward to visiting every year. They grow most their plants on site from seed, cuttings, grafting, etc. And the selection can’t be beat!

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Primula ‘Belarina Cobalt’ has sent up a surprise…and it is most welcome indeed! I am hoping it will be full of buds in the spring so I can dig it up for the spring primrose show at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens! I sent for this last spring from Sequim Rare Plants in Sequim, WA. I also ordered a few Primula auricula from them and they sent the biggest most beautiful plants. I highly recommend them.

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Here we have another Gentian in the very small rock garden on the west side of the cabin. It bloomed in July and was the most glorious ever. I have moved this plant around so many times trying to find just the right spot for it and now I think I have. It has got a long tongue-twisting name…Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana…try saying that three time fast!IMG_3073

And lastly here is my lovely Aconitum x cammarum ‘Bicolor’. This photo doesn’t do it justice. It was huge and full of flowers while draping itself over an Azalea along the stream garden. this one also has never had so many flowers. I think the spring & early summer rains were so beneficial to the gardens along with the cooler temps all summer.

So after the garden stroll and a new knitting project getting cast on I’m feeling much less blue and quite a bit more jazzed about how well the gardens did this year. Time to start planning where to add a few more blue beauties.

It’s fall, and that means many Cyclamen start blooming or sending up their beautifully patterned leaves! I have become somewhat obsessed with growing Cyclamen either from seed or purchasing them from a few good growers. In the past few weeks they are all showing some sort of new leafy growth or popping up their delicate looking flowers. I have read many times that most ‘hardy’ Cyclamen won’t grow here, but I can tell you they grow just fine here in zone 4-5 Vermont!

The following have all been grown outside in my gardens for at least one year. Some are from seed I obtained through the seed-ex of the North American Rock Garden Society, the American Primrose Society or from John Lonsdale and Plant Delights Nursery.

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Give them a well drained soil with a little bit of sun and they are happy! Plant the corms about 1″ deep and cover with a gritty soil mix so the corm stays dry over winter. They are glorious almost all year sending up fabulous new leaves late summer & fall. C. hederifolium bloom now, while the C. coum blooms in early spring. The all silvered leaf plant above is C. purpurescens which blooms in mid-summer.

Most will self sow when happy and you can see in the second to last photo that C. coum is very happy! I have seedlings coming up all over that bed!

There are also a few non-hardy types for the sunny windowsill. While the common C. persicum can be found almost everywhere now you should give a few of the rarer ones a try. Most need to be started from seed which can be found on many of the specialist plant society seed exchanges or purchased from a few specialty growers such as Arrowhead Alpines you can see they even use a cyclamen leaf in the title of the nursery!

Here are a few of the plants I have started from seed or bought in already potted. The first is C. graecum a lovely thing I got from John Lonsdale with fantastic leaves. The second is the same but one I grew from seed. The third is C. rohfsianum that I picked up at a chapter meeting of NARGS a couple of years ago grown by a friend who says his has over 75 flowers on it this year! Mine hasn’t flowered for the past two years!! Don’t know what I’m doing wrong here but the leaves are lovely to look at anyway. The last is a C. pseudibericum also from John. It has the one flower on it this year and will be sending up beautifully marked leaves very soon. I have them all in a sunny east facing window. During the summer they are pretty much in a dormant state outside with no watering except what nature gives them. I repot them every 2 years or so and topdress them with a pretty gravel mix.

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Please gives these beauties a try. They are so rewarding!

Thanks for stopping by…..please leave me a comment and let me know about your adventures with the fabulous Cyclamen!

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