I was surprised by a beautiful Green Darner (Anax junius) the other day while moving some pots on the roof. I must have been out there puttering around for two hours before I noticed it quietly resting on a white sage (Salvia apiana) plant. I hope it caught some mosquitoes.
This isn’t our first dragonfly visit of the year. It’s always surprising who and what will find our little oasis in the sky. More of these and less raccoons please.
On the white sage: It’s not hardy here in Toronto, but I’ve managed to overwinter this one successfully over several seasons now by simply cutting it back hard and forgetting about it. You know, I’m not really much of a fan at this size — they are much more beautiful when they are grown as bushes, but alas I can’t really achieve that here without a bigger pot and more space. I’ve kept it in a sunny window giving it water here and there through the winter and I’ve set it in the hallway where it is cold, the windows are north-facing, and it received almost no attention. We even went away for a month last winter and friends were not instructed to water it. This plant lives on no matter what.
I ordered these bulbs from Garden Import back in the early spring and put them outside after the last frost. Low and behold it grew, and the flowers opened up just this past weekend. Coincidentally, their Fall catalog arrived at the same time. I spent some time flipping through it last night, oohing and awing at the many bulbs I’d love to buy and grow.
When I threatened to make a list of everything I want from the catalog, Davin suggested I make one called, “All the Plants I Will Not Be Buying This Fall.”
Coral Drops, (Bessera elegans) is a Mexican flowering bulb plant with very delicate flowers that dance and bob on thin stems. The bulbs are very tiny and the leaves are thin, making them a good choice for container growing. I grew my set in a pot on the roof and gave the remaining bulbs to a friend who is also growing them in a container with very gritty, well-draining soil.
I planted 7 bulbs in a pot that is 10″ wide and 8 1/2″ deep, a few more than the recommended number for a pot of that size. In hindsight I was too safe and feel I could have pushed it and put all 10 bulbs into that pot for a tighter display. Regardless, they look great and I’m really glad I allowed myself to splash out on this and a few other non-edibles this year. There are all kinds of nourishment, and this one was for my eyes, not my stomach.
Here’s what it looks like when you flip it upside down. You can really see the strange purple pistil and green pollen.
Over the weekend my friend Barry opened his garden up to public viewing and for something special, brought most of his impressive agave collection down from a third floor balcony and into the yard for viewing. It’s not just that Barry has assembled this collection, but that he grew many of these large plants from seed! Perhaps not such a difficult feat in a southern climate, but here in the North that means years of shifting spiny plants indoors and out, and months of coddling under lights and in sunny windows through the winter.
I walked around the table with my cellphone and shot a little video of the plants. If I had to choose a favourite, I think it would be the one that has black leaf margins and spines. But only under duress since there are several others that are just unbearably pretty. The white one in the centre of the arrangement is pretty impressive too. And the little one with the very thin leaves….
Can you distinguish the plants from the rocks? Lithops, aka stone plants, are a favourite botanical freak but I am very tentative about growing them. I’ve killed a fair share and even though I have an intellectual understanding of their needs, I still don’t feel like I truly “get” them in practice. I currently have 2 plants and I haven’t killed them yet so that’s saying something, I suppose.
My friend Barry grew these from seed. He says they are about 2 years old. Look at the exciting colours in there!
I never see anything that interesting in stores. I’ve got a packet of seed that I bought back in the spring. I hope to grow them this winter once my outdoor gardening activity cools off. Since I’m feeling a bit nervous about the experiment, I’ve started a Lithops Grow-Along thread in the You Grow Girl Forums. Support, camaraderie, and accountability just might be the ticket to success. Wanna join me?