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Archive for the ‘Plant Societies’ Category

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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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.

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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!

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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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It’s now coming close to show season in the plant world. While there are loads of garden shows now open all over the country,  what I am most interested in are the specific plant society shows where you’ll find alpines of all sorts, Primula, Narcissus, etc. grown to perfection by meticulous and sometimes not so meticulous growers.  The next show that I will be attending this year is the American Primrose Society National Show being held in Potland, OR.  I’m so excited to be attending this show as the Pacific Northwest is the Primrose growers ideal climate and the concentration of nurseries that grow Primula and all sorts of woodland treasures is fantastic!! I have compiled a large list of nurseries & gardens  to visit….here’s a small sampling of them…Wild Ginger Farm, Fraser’s Thimble Farms & The Bloedel Reserve . And that’s just a small selection! I’m going to bring a fairly empty suitcase so I’ll have lots of room to bring plants home….I may even mail some plants home! The show is going to be at the same time as the Oregon Hardy Plant Society and in the same venue so I’ll have access to many fine growers at the show. More info on that here.

I so enjoy entering plants in these shows just to see how my plants stack up against others more experienced at this sort of thing than I am.  And every year I learn some new tidbit of information to help me along on that road to perfection. In the very first Primrose show I ever went to I entered a Primula polyanthus ‘Garnet Cowichan’ and won a first place ribbon! How excited and proud I was to have achieved that!! But then came the heartbreak of losing the plant that same season. The plants that I dig up and pot for these shows always suffer quite a bit from their rude treatment. But I’ve found with more careful attention to their needs I can keep them going after replanting into the garden.

I grew this plant from seed-exchange seed a few years back.

I really love the form of these hose-in-hose...flower in a flower plants.

Isn’t it a beauty? After I replanted this into the garden it reduced in size over the season, but it has grown back to a decent size with some coddling.

I’m now very busy with the APS seed exchange as I’m the seedex manager and the orders have been arriving all winter. It’s a fun way to get through the long winter and it’s also interesting to see what sorts of seeds members order. Some folks are all about the species and don’t order any crosses or named varieties, some folks that’s all they want and then there are mostly the growers who sample a bit of everything. That’s pretty much where I am. I’ve been sowing pots & pots of seed over the winter and having a blast watching the little sprouts emerging through the soil under the grow lights. Here’s a photo of what my kitchen table looks like when I’m filling seed orders.

APS Seed-exchange Bits & Pieces

Setting up to fill orders takes a little time, but it's interesting & fun to do.

Seedlings are sprouting now from seed sown earlier in the year. Some come up in droves while others come up very sparsely. Why is that I wonder? Condition of the seed when collected, storing of the seed after collection, temperature of the seed pot after sowing…lots of variables to consider.

P. florindae seedlings. Seed from the APS seedex this year.

This seed was sown in Feb. and has been germinating for the past few days.

Also under the growlights are a few pots of P. auricula that I overwintered on the porch and have brought indoors to see if I can get them to flower in time for either the show in Oregon or our chapter show in May. I did get one to bloom last year but the timing was off. That is such a tricky thing, forcing plants into bloom out of their natural bloom cycle. It’s all about temperature. So we’ll see how things go in the next few weeks.

An auricula seedling that hasn't bloomed yet for me.

Trying to force these auricula into bloom for the show.

There’s usually something to keep me busy during the winter that’s plant related….now if I only had a greenhouse then I’d really keep my hands in the soil all year!!

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Now that it’s coming on to winter I’ll be playing catch-up with my posts. I’ve got lots of pictures of places I visited through the growing season that I’ll be posting in the days to come. And now that I am layed off from work for the winter I’ll have lots of time to do this!
So here goes……….
I want to tell you about a very special place created by a couple of very special people on their patch of paradise in Branford, CT. This is the home of Nick Nicou and Carol Hanby, two very generous, talented and all around nice garden nuts!

When driving down the towards the house you pass magnificent specimens of huge Mt. Laurels, Variegated Dogwoods, large swaths of perennials and the most beautiful Rhododendrons.

Nick & Carol are members of the New England chapter of APS and generously offered to host a meeting/garden tour at their home in Branford, CT last June. This was very exciting for me as Nick is one of the most respected experts on Rhododendrons in the US, and a tour through his & Carol’s gardens is a huge treat!
These gardens have been developed and grown for over 50 years so you can imagine the size of some of these shrubs and trees.

This is the larges variegated Pagoda Dogwood I've ever seen! And it just lit up the shade.

Only 3 of us showed up for the tour which was too bad for all who couldn’t make it as we knew we were in for something truly special and inspiring.
Carol & Nick welcomed us into their home for a pot-luck lunch & tour on a lovely late spring day. The Rhodies were going past their prime but there was so many other lovely shrubs, trees & perennials just coming into peak bloom!

This hardy pitcher plant was in full bloom in a simple bog garden Carol created from a mason's tough, which just a large plastic tub filled with sandy soil & peat moss.

The garden slopes down towards a marshy area and then to a pond that you can just barely see through the branches of huge Rhododendrons, Mt. Laurels, Magnolia, Dogwoods and many other choice & unusual woody plants. We took a leisurly stroll down the wandering paths stopping often for detailed descriptions of many of the lovely specimens. At the bottom of the garden was the shady marsh area filled with Primula japonica just going past it’s best…but still a lovely sight to behold!

Thousands of Japanese Primrose greeted us as we arrived at the bottom of the garden. These have been happily self sowing for years. Carol also adds new plants throughout the summer.

We then made our way through the ‘Rhododendron Dell’, most were past bloom but there was still a number hanging on to a few flowers. The size of the plants is what was astonishing to me. I never thought they could grow so large in New England. Loads were over 12 feet tall! I wish I could remember the species and names for you.


The rest of the tour was one big hortigasmic orgy! Running from one marvel of nature to the next!!

This is genus I am fascinated with. Those leaves look so alien and beautiful! I want to try growing these from seed.


I could keep adding photos all day there was so much to see, but I’ll end with a pic of the creators of this most amazing place that is so special and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and enjoy getting to know the owners a bit better.

Don’t forget you can click on every photos for a larger version.

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Entrance to the garden

Follow along as I meander through fellow Primula-nut Arlene’s large and well established garden on a hilltop in Vermont.

Friend Mary & I got together last weekend to tour the garden and take in a couple of nurseries along the way as long as the weather held up. Which lately wasn’t happening all that much. We’ve had the rainiest April & May on record so as you can imagine the lawns & gardens are soaking wet!

Using our faithful Tomtom GPS to get us there we arrived just after lunchtime pulling up to Arlene’s house with a gorgeous view of the mountain valley. Her house is at the end of a dirt road with no near neighbors so it was very quiet and still. Arlene was there in her garden to greet us and guide us through the wandering stone pathways, indicating which year a certain plant was grown and set out or where another plant was purchased and who the lovely apricot double primrose was named for.

Double Apricot Primrose 'Agnes'

Following the Paths Through the Garden

Woodland Wonders

After an intial walk-through I slowly made my way through again taking close-ups of the flowers that caught my attention…and there were so many! There are large patches of Trillium, Cypripedium, Solomon’s Seal, Double Bloodroot, Anemone nemerosa, and so many other treasures!

Trillium grandiflorum, Large White Trillium

The yellow Trillium luteum with Cypripedium parviflorum. (I think)

And of course there were Primulas galore!!

Primula sieboldii

Primula polyanthus deep maroon

Arlene’s primroses have been crossing and self-sowing here for many years that everywhere you look there are multitudes of variation. Every shade of the rainbow..almost, and every form of petal. The plants are grown in rich garden loam, amended with compost and all under the shade of very old apple trees. Arlene adds new beds each year as she grows so many from seed from the APS seed exchange. In fact she is always the first to send her seed in to the exchange and the first to order! It’s fun to see what she has grown from all the donations from around the world.

A lovely Primula elatior of a bright red color.

A glowing pink polyanthus, a chance seedling popping up.

Growing from seed is one of my most favorite things to do, and the variation you get always surprises.

After a little plant swapping time where I came away with the apricot double, a bright maroon sieboldii and the deep red polyanthus Mary & I made our way over to Marshfield and the nursery of friend George Africa to say hi and see what he and Gail have been up to. Their nursery Vermont Flower Farm is on Rte. 2 overlooking old farm pastures which George is busy turning into display gardens and growing fields for their Daylilies. The selection of Hosta was amazing as were the Epimedium which Mary loved and picked one to bring home.

The weather held up as we wended our way back to Hubbardton over the Appalachian Gap and down past Rocky Dale Gardens. Now I need to find a spot in my gardens for the newest treasures!

Every photo is clickable for enlarging and more description!

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