Meaty, dense, huge, and prolific: I didn’t intend to grow ‘Mennonite Orange’ last summer, but boy am I ever glad I did.
- 80 days
- Open-pollinated heirloom
- Beefsteak, Slicer
- Ripens: Mid-season
- Story: Originally from Pennsylvania but grown in Southern Ontario.
- Container Growing: You’ll need a really big pot, 16″+ deep.
Barry’s cyclamen have begun their yearly emergence from dormancy and his small, cold greenhouse is alive with them. My own few pots of Cylamen coum (gifts from Barry, of course) have also begun to emerge, although I have noticed that they are behind his.
What you see in this photo isn’t even half of Barry’s collection — there has got to be at least a hundred — pots upon pots upon more pots that he raised from seed seven years ago. He has transplanted some outside into the garden where they have propagated into a million different leaf patterns, colours, and forms. It’s fun to pull back the leaf mulch and observe these tiny new creatures. What new designs will we find? Barry keeps his favourites in pots in the glasshouse where he can enjoy them more closely.
No matter the season, there is always something of interest (many, many things of interest) going on in Barry’s garden and even though I know not to show up without a proper camera, I can’t deny that sometimes (most times) I am lazy and the camera stays at home. Of course, I always regret it later as I did when I visited his place on Friday to see what was new.
And what was new was everything. It was the day of the epic thaw. One day our city gardens are buried in snow, the likes of which we haven’t seen in ages, and the next the sun is shinning, the birds are getting busy, and some guy is traipsing down the street in a T-shirt and flip-flops like it’s August, except that it isn’t August it’s January, and it may be unseasonably warm, but it’s nowhere near Spring Break in Cancun 2013 (Spring Break! Woooo!). That dude is going to regret it next week when he’s stuck in the bathroom suffering the symptoms of the NoroVirus, I tell you what.
I love these first big thaws. First of all, they are a desperately needed reminder that the winter isn’t forever. Spring will come again. They also reveal that life has not ceased underneath the snow. Plants are alive. Some of them are green and fresh. Take this lush and very alive hellebore (above) in Barry’s garden. Before meeting Barry, I had never paid hellebores much mind. Now I can appreciate their merits, the main one being that they stay green year-round!
Some of them, like this Helleborus niger ‘Praecox’ bloom in December and January when most plants are months away from breaking dormancy, let alone making flowers. Let me repeat: I took this photo just a few days ago. In January. In Toronto. What a plant!
Until recently it had been at least a year since I picked up a needle and thread to embroider or cross stitch and I was itching to get back into it. I took some time over the holidays to rekindle the interest and now it is back, bigger than ever. I am stitching up a storm.
One of the first things I did over the break was buy a stitchable, wooden pendant. I knew right away that I wanted to do something botanical, but I didn’t want to do the usual flower motif. With seed starting season on the brain, I first considered stitching up seeds but couldn’t come up with a pattern that looked like more than colourful blobs. Seedlings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and I knew I could turn out something interesting. I tried stitching in little roots, but eventually removed them because it didn’t work and they ended up looking more like strange trees.
I’ve provided directions and a pattern below so that you can stitch up your own Seedling Medallion. Wear it with pride this spring as you watch brand new plants emerge from the soil in your garden.
You Will Need:
- A pre-fab wooden cross stitch pendant. I purchased this scallop-edged, wooden cross stitch pendant from The Workroom ($7). I have also found sellers on etsy here and here, but I can’t personally vouch for the quality of their pendants.
- 5- Six strand embroidery floss in shades of green, yellow, and brown.
- 1 Cross stitch needle (available at any craft store)
- Cross stitch pattern (See below.)
- An adjustable chain to hang the pendant.
How To Make This:
Back in September I wrote about sinningia, an African violet relative with an unusual tuber that grows above the soil. At the time my plant was in full bloom. It is now going into dormancy and has been losing leaves. The photo above is what it looked like yesterday in its current home underneath lights in my basement. [Please note that the leaves are green. They look yellowy/red because of the back light coming from fluorescents.]
I was prompted to write about the plant because I received an email this week from Tim Tuttle, the person who created the hybrid I am growing, ‘Kevin Garnet.’ A few of you asked if the plant was named for the pro basketball player of the same name. Well, Tim has answered. Here’s what he had to say:
I had to laugh about the comments about the name being in honor of the basketball player. It is NOT named for the basketball player, but rather for my nephew who happens to have the same name. I made this hybrid about ten years ago and named it in honor of my older nephew Kevin.
If you’re interested in learning more about less common Gesneriads (African violet relatives), Tim keeps a blog called A Passion for Petrocosmea, the focus of which is on this peculiar genus. I find the conditions in my home are too dry to grow them well — my single attempt to keep one failed miserably and I have shifted away from most humidity-loving plants as a result. More room for succulents! Still, I find Petrocosmea incredibly fascinating as many of them grow in an almost unreal, nearly-perfect, circular form. They’d make an interesting step forward if you have a lot of success with African violets. I only wish I’d tried them when I had better growing conditions.