Tuesday, 14 February 2012

fun with tillandsias

First off, happy valentines day! Today has been a happy day indeed! It all started with coffee ... what day can be good without coffee?!  But then, I went to visit a good friend of mine - who had just been to Southlands nursery - who gave me a goody bag of tillandsias, moss and a fun glass container!!! To make things better, we were on a mission to see Cedar Rim Nursery after being closed for what can only be described as an eternity (in reality just a couple months).  They had undergone extensive renovations and were just re-opening.  They didn't seem to be quite "set-up" yet so unfortunately I didn't snap any pictures, but from what I saw today, it's going to be epic.  I was most impressed with the kids gardening area which was stocked with more Tillandsias!! apparently they are for the kids at heart!

Here's my shot at tillandsia arrangement

They always seem like sea creatures to me... so placing one in a shell just felt right - not to mention the seashell has palm trees etched onto it!

I'm not really up on my tillandsia identification - anyone know what this large one is?

one of the Cedar Rim additions :)

This makes me smile!

I can't wait for the weekend forages for some great driftwood or something to display more of my tillandsia friends!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

who could resist?

I find myself saying that quite frequently ... who could resist? I for one definitely could not resist this special little plant.  Introducing my new aloe polyphylla! From the high mountains in Lesotho, this gem of an aloe is supposedly hardy to near 10F and is tolerant of water given adequate drainage from what I have read.

I actually already own an aloe polyphylla but have never had the nerve to plant it out in the garden.  The idea of purchasing another one as a backyard experiment had percolated in my mind for some time.  So when I saw this beauty for $20 at a local nursery I was sold - not to mention it was a warm spring like day.  Do you ever notice how it's easier to buy plants on sunny days?

Like all who purchase plants on a whim, I had the daunting question of "now where to plant it?!"  It's a bad habit that I really need to get control of but I find myself in moments of incredible weakness at nurseries. hmmm? there must be a diagnosis for this.  Near the pindo palm was my first inclination. I liked the way it would contrast with the yucca bright star and pick up some of the blue green tones from the palm, but I had a "brilliant" idea - in the garden project kind of sense - of positioning it close to the newly planted yucca gloriosa variegata.

I plan on making it a whole succulent frenzy this spring! I want to get an agave parryi to put on the left hand side of the yucca (for balance) as well as some various echeveria and hens and chicks.  I want to keep it as cold hardy as possible with a couple dashes of bright colour with plants like echeveria perle von nurnberg.

Now I'm hoping that the cold will stay away!

Monday, 6 February 2012

sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

what a glorious weekend!  For me, it came just in the nick of time.  I was seriously considering buying one of those sun lamps.  You know the ones for people who can't seem to cope with winter. Yes, thats me.  But sometime last week, more and more weather models were predicting not one day of sun, not two, not three, but a legitimate stretch of mild sunny weather! Phew!  So, in true fashion, I headed out to the beach to soak up some of the rays.

On sunny winter days, Vancouverites are found in a state of euphoria - myself included. and why not?! With views like this, who could resist?

English Bay is one of my favourite areas in all of vancouver.  It feels more so mediterranean than anything.  It was in fact here where it all began for me.  That is, the moment I spotted my first ever canadian palm tree!  So I feel a kind of connection to this place.  It has that nostalgic draw.

People say, the grass is always greener on the other side, and well, at English Bay, the plants certainly seem happier.

Like how these palms seem to reach for the sky!

I particularly love how they are grouped together! Palms love company.  That is one lesson I have learned over the years... whats better than one palm tree ... at least three!

A closer look at the ground around them reveals just how happy these palms really are.  They have babies!

I think these guys love it just as much as I do.

That might have been close to the face I was making while enjoying the sunshine an palm trees.

Like I said, who can resist?

The Canadian Riviera!

This new planting has a kind of sleek sophistication. I love the combination of black mondo grass and windmill palm.

And of course you can always find epic container gardens at English Bay

Wishing you all warmth and sunshine!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

the good, the bad, and the ugly

Well I said it, there were good, bad and just plain ugly surprises after some of the worst cold weather that I have ever experienced!  The cold of January 2012 will definitely go down in the records for me.  But whats more, it has definitely taught me much about the limits of my garden, the microclimate, and also reinforced my dislike for old man winter.  I can't help, however, but start with some of the positives... ALL the palms look great!! they are by far the biggest investments in my garden and I am happy to report, there will be no palm graveyards in my future!  Here are some pictures of my palm trees after the cold...

This is my first ever palm tree and it is also one of my favourite for the form of its fronds..

This canary island date palm surprised me the most! It was moved into an unheated shed and would have seen temps into the low 20's maybe even the upper teens! I was shocked to find it alive and healthy!

This unprotected seedling palm even sailed through the cold temperatures.  It was collected from seeds of the famous English Bay palm trees in Vancouver.

This chamaerops humilis (mediterranean fan palm) was protected fairly heavily... I was not willing to risk anything with it.  It had christmas lights, burlap around the central spear and a tarp to keep it all snug.

The same went for the butia capitata (pindo palm) in the lower right of this photo.

As for the agaves?! well here's one of my agave ovatifolia.  Albeit a fair bit dirty, it actually looks really good! there is one really sad leaf (if thats what you call it on an agave?) to the bottom left.  Should I cut it off? I don't know.

All of the rosemary plants are looking good as well.  This one has by far the best flavour!!!

As should be excpected yucca gloriosa recurvifolia "bright star" looks flawless

and the same goes for the yucca gloriosa variegata.

So there was the good.... the bad is a much smaller category. Thankfully, these plants don't quite fit the category of ugly.  So I will qualify bad to mean gnarly looking but alive.  First off, dicksonia antarctica (tasmanian tree fern).  This actually makes me quite sad. quite as in a whole lot of sad.  I learned some happy lessons however. Lesson #1, why didn't I get one of these a long time ago!?!?! with simple protection of some burlap and a portable fabric plant cover, this fern made it through the worst of winter weather in the pnw!

As you can see, it looks like a sight for sore eyes at this point... BUT ALIVE! check this out right near the centre of the plant!

Only one more ugly, my bay laurel.  This one is really not that bad. There is a little bit of burn on some of the leaves, but come springtime, I'm sure it will have all grown out.

Warning: this next bit... tragic!!!!

I should preface the tragedy by saying that I have a futile love affair with cordylines.  I dream of growing large majestic cordylines like you used to see around the pnw.  I really should know better.  But here is what remains of my once epic cordyline australis red sensation.

Sadly the foliage actually looks quite healthy all things considered. I actually think this plant could stage a recovery, but it would look really sad. I'd have to chop it down below the rot and hope for it to sprout out.  But, I'm pretty sure it will be dug up and replaced considering its prominent position in the garden.  I have several ones of comparable size that did survive in a makeshift greenhouse (some christmas lights and heavy plastic up against a fence) that could replace it, but I could just find something that will actually stand a chance.  Any ideas?  I have always loved the purple foliage next to the green trachycarpus fortunei to the left and a butia capitata on the right. maybe a large yucca? or euphorbia?

So I can't end things with ugly. There was actually an incredible glimmer of hope in my day... SUNSHINE!!!!! I kinda forgot what it looked like.  I found myself asking what the big glowing object in the sky actually was.  What was it? The sign of spring and of happiness!!  Actually, there's a whole lot of spring going on.

hostas anyone?

variegated iris

ahhh, blue skies, warm "ish" temperature... its amazing how you kinda feel alive again! its invigorating. I wanted to whip out the shovel, head to a garden centre, make lemonade, and basque in the sunshine!! There is hope for spring!!!!

Happy palmy wednesday!

Enjoy the sunshine!