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Archive for the ‘Plant Societies’ Category

I’m very late in posting an update on the show….after in my last post I promised to keep you updated on the show happenings! But I’m feeling it’s better late than never…so here goes.

The weekend was very busy as you can imagine, I stopped on the way down to Hillside Nursery in Shelburne Falls, Mass. A wholesale grower of unusual woodland plants, some native to the US and lots from Asia and Europe. I had placed an order with Peter Joppe, the owner, a few months back in anticipation of the Primrose Show and most of his plants sold the first day! The plants of his that didn’t all sell such as Anemonopsis macrophylla and Cornus canadensis I’ll have for sale at the NARGS annual meeting later this month (see my calender of Events page). I would love to post pictures here but I didn’t remember to take any of my tables of plants until later and then realised my camera batteries were shot! But here’s a link to his website.

Friday included the garden tours to 3 private gardens in Petersham, Mass. The first was to Peter George’s garden which included lovely rock gardens that were bursting with all manner of choice alpines, peonies, Primula, Iris, Epimedium and so many other treasures! I mistakenly deleted the photos I took here so you’ll just have to imagine it! Sorry!

The next garden was to Abby Rorers’ wonderful shade gardens and small greenhouse which was full of her collections of Gasteria, Haworthia and mini Aloes! I used to collect many of these succulents too, but now that I live on a shady & wooded piece of heaven I had to give those plants away. Abby’s gardens were so sweet and full of perfect examples of shade loving Primula polyanthus, Epimedium, Arisaema, Anemone nemerosa and many others. Sorry but no pictures for here either.

Our next garden visit was to Bruce Lockhart’s woodland garden and new, still under-construction gardens. Here were large old clumps of Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ with their large yellow bells, and a huge patch of Podophyllum peltatum, the native Mayapple. There were massive stands of Epimedium and Primula vulgaris. You will be happy to know I did get a few photos of Bruce’s gardens…whew!!

Mayapple

Pophyllum peltatum

After the garden tour it was hurry up to Tower Hill to set up my tables of plants for sale! And to get my pots of entries onto the show benches. It takes time to make each plant look its best, you’ve got to look very closely at each leaf, flower, bud and the pot itself for any blemishes. You must decide which side of the plant will face out towards the judges discerning eyes, so you’ve got to arrange the flower stems & leaves just so. Clean the pot of any soil bits and debris that might be clinging to it set it in a saucer and place it on the bench in the correct category. Even after days of nurturing each plant and lovingly placing it among all the other contenders you just never know what will catch the judges eye and deem your plant either a winner or ….I can’t really say ‘loser’ but one that isn’t up to standard.

Here’s a photo of my ‘Best in Section’ P. polyanthus Cowichan Garnet, grown from seed I got in the APS seed exchange last year.

Best in Division Cowichan Garnet

Friday night brings us to the anticipated dinner at Matt & Joe’s house, gardens & greenhouse! We all look forward to this event every year and it is always delicious! Matt is a fantastic cook so we always know we’ll be well fed. This year was especially fun as there was a ‘theme’! Silly British Hats in honor of the royal wedding! There was pub food on the menu and hats did appear!

Mary & me modeling our hats. (I'm on the left)

We had such a fun time and greeted many new attendees for this years show. The greenhouse was full as always with so many unusual bulbs, tropicals, Clivia, Orchids and other oddities. Matt Mattus has a wonderful blog I follow on all things horticultural….check it out here.

The rest of the weekend was full of activities such as an awards dinner, a lecture by renowned British plant explorer Chris Chadwell on seed collecting in the Himalayas, selling loads of my plants and just plain fun with friends who are also crazy about Primula!

I can’t recommend this group more! Our next meeting will be in CT at the famous gardens of fellow members Nick Nicou & Carol Hanby. Their Rhododendron collection is famous and the gardens are extensive and full of Primula! If you would like more information about the meeting plans or just want to chat about primroses leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Don’t forget every photo is clickable for enlarging and added commentary.

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A few plants for the show bench

The National Show of The American Primrose Society is drawing near! And I am a vendor this year, so that means I have been very busy getting plants ready. This is a huge job which includes digging, dividing, potting, labeling, sorting the good from the not so good and worrying.

For the last few weeks I’ve been prowling around the gardens trying to decide which plants might be in bloom at the right time for the show benches and which would be good candidates for dividing & potting for the sale benches. I have dug many plants in hopes that they will be perfect for the show, but some are not panning out as planned and I’ll probably not take them. But then most are looking very good and I keep adding to the collection for the show benches.

My small 'nursery' of overwintered flats and plants for the APS show

My gardens are my nursery which means I don’t have a whole lot of room for all the plants I would like to grow, so the variety of plants won’t always be where I would like. I grow almost everything from seed or division and I’m learning new techniques all the time. I’ve been reading Bill Cullinas book ‘Wildflowers’ A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Wildflowers of North America. It has been such a great guide. I love Bill’s way of explaining all manner of growing methods in such an enjoyable way. I just learned that if you poke around the crown of Dodecatheon you can tease off a few easily separated crowns and pot or replant them. So I went out and put this knowledge to practice and he’s right! The plant does separate very easily and I left most undisturbed, while separating off 3 crowns for potting. Next I want to try my hand at root cuttings of Primula denticulata.

Primula denticulata in the garden

The above plant will grow into a large ball of purple flowers. These love a constantly moist soil in part shade and will self sow when happy. Each year the clump gets larger and can be dug & divided in early spring. They come in pink, white and all shades of purple to almost red. I’ve got lots of them all along my streamside,and they are one of the earliest flowers in the garden.

Preparations for the Primrose show will be ongoing this week up till the last minute when I leave friday morning, so I’ll try to keep posting as the week goes on and especially at the show! If you want to read more about the Primrose show or see photos of past shows click here.

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The gardens are ever so slowly waking up, where there was snow yesterday, there are flowers today! A small Cyclamen coum ssp. coum was buried under snow yesterday morning when I left for work. But as I pulled into the drive in the afternoon this is what greeted me! This little plant was much smaller last year and now there are loads of self-sown seedlngs all around it. I am becoming so in love with cyclamen nowadays! They are easy from seed as long as you soak them for a day in water with a drop of dish soap in it, then sow at 65 degrees.

Cyclamen coum ssp. coum

Plant seedlings out into a partly shady well drained soil. The corm should be just below soil surface and they like to go dry during the summer.

Cyclamen hederifolium Seedlings

 Sprinkle a little lime on them each spring as like a slightly elevated PH.

So of course I had to take a walk through the rest of the gardens, actually it was creeping on hands & knees,  to do a bit of exploring and feeling around for other buried treasures! This is the time when I do alot of loosening up of the winter mulch of shredded leaves & pine needles that I spread late last fall. It really packs down over the soil and I always feel it needs to be fluffed up now. But what I’m really doing is looking to see what is poking up through the soil and what will be blooming soon and what just didn’t make it through the winter.

Here’s another early spring blooming bulb that is so hardy here.

Iris histrioides 'Katherine Hodgekins'

These small Iris need a bit of sun to do their best, so in almost every pool of sunlight I’ve popped a few of these in. And up the pop a few more each spring.

Almost every day I dig up a clump of something to divide and pot up in preparation for the American Primrose Society National Show the last weekend of this month at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, Mass. I’ll be there as an organizer and a vendor, so try to come and enjoy the show benches full of the most beautiful flowering Primula of all sorts, colors, forms and sizes. For more information go to www.americanprimrosesociety.org  See you there!

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