I promised a follow-up photo of Clematis x cartmanii ‘Joe’ in full bloom and here it is.
This small clematis from New Zealand makes a gorgeous potted plant, but keep in mind that it is not hardy in a colder climate like Toronto’s (around zone 5b-ish) and must be overwintered in a cool greenhouse. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for climate context, cold hardy clematis that are grown outdoors are only just beginning to put out buds here in Toronto.
Two other varieties, ‘Cassis’ and ‘Vienetta’ also do well in big containers. They are a bit hardier than ‘Joe’, but here in Toronto still seem to require a protected place to spend the winter. My friend Barry (clematis enthusiast) says that if you don’t mind losing a plant to experimentation, it might be possible to overwinter either outside. He hasn’t tried it yet.
Check out Barry’s blog where he talks about how he has achieved the compact, spiral growth shown here (it’s his plant).
We have been enjoying an unseasonably warm March here in Toronto that has lead into the warmest early April I can recall, ever. Temperatures are supposed to soar this weekend, sending gardeners (including me) into a flurry of activity. I have already sown spinach and mâche into containers on the roof. The chives have been shooting up slowly over the last few weeks, and I am starting to identify lettuce seedlings that have self sown where I let mature plants go to seed last season. I intend to spend this weekend cleaning up, amending the container soil, and getting all of the gardens into shape.
Meanwhile, over at the greenhouse, my little seedlings are go. I started tomatoes and peppers on March 5 and have sown the odd thing here and there since. I’m enjoying the simplicity of this stage of the growing season very much. I’ve been through this stage countless times now and you’d think it would get dull, but it never does. Every year there is something new and even the same old same old haven’t lost their appeal. On a basic level I am amazed by my plants’ progress every time I visit the greenhouse. I am relishing just observing the beauty of new seeds as they come out of the package and discovering the early growth stages of plants I have never grown from seed before. This is a happy time all around.
These are a pansy called ‘Caramel Spice’ from Botanical Interests. It’s a little late to start pansies and violas from seed as they are typically started in January. In fact, I just bought the first pansy cell-packs of the season yesterday. Unfortunately, these seeds came late but I figured I might as well give it a shot anyways. I can always try tucking them into a cooler spot once the summer heat hits and hope they make it to the fall cool-down.
This is cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), one of my fun experiments for the 2010 growing season. Cardoon is a gorgeous, and rather massive plant that looks an awful lot like an artichoke or giant thistle. In fact, they’re related. What’s interesting is that you eat the stems of the plant, not the flower bud as you do with an artichoke. But before you harvest it you’ve got to “blanch” it, much like celery, by covering the stems with a large box or some other cover to keep light out and soften the leaves. Perhaps a bit complicated but my curiosity has got the better of me so here we go. Another fun fact: cardoon is often used as a vegetarian rennet substitute in cheese making.
I like the seedlings at this stage; so perfect.
Last fall my friend Barry put me onto pots of green and purple ‘Holy’ basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) for sale at a neighbourhood Indian food store. ‘Holy’ basil, also known as Tulsi, is a beautiful herb that brightens a dull spot in the garden. It’s a tough, woody plant with textured leaves that can take a lot of heat and a little bit of drought, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking to grow a culinary basil. It has a very potent smell and flavour and is more commonly used as a medicinal remedy than a meal enhancer.
I intended to post about the plant here months back, but as sometimes happens, I neglected to get a good photo before the frost hit and to top it off I left the plant outside to die rather than overwintering it indoors. And even though I wasn’t going to tell this part of the story, now that I’ve exposed my neglect, I feel a guilt-ridden need to explain that the reason I didn’t bring it inside was because we were going away for a month and I didn’t want to overburden my friends with millions of plants to keep alive on top of the thousands I already have.
Passively allowing tender plants to die outdoors at the end of the season is a gardeners’ dirty little secret. Just about everyone does it, but few admit it. Many of us feel guilty about it, although in my case I suspect it has more to do with throwing away money than intentionally killing a plant.
But I digress. What I really intended to say was that as luck might have it, a month or so after the “killing frost”, I came upon the plant in this photo, growing on a farm in St. Lucia. It may not have been my plant, but I got the photo I had hoped for. And like most basil plants grown in a tropical climate, the thing was huge, much larger than any basil I could grow here in Toronto.
I love this little-big flower, Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant.’ The name is confusing here (if not a bit of a stretch) as it speaks to the flower size in relation to others in its species rather than within the crocus world as a whole. It is actually a cute little cup of a thing, much smaller than the big hybrids you see available as a forced potted bulb this time of year.
It is so graceful with its long, stretching neck and petals that open wide in the sun. I took this photo on a cheerfully bright afternoon last week and it was a delight to see them in exactly the same state today, nearly a week later.
I took this photo of Clematis x cartmanii ‘Joe’ a number of weeks ago in my friend Barry’s greenhouse, just before the buds opened. In a day or two I’ll update you with a photo of what it looked like today, with the blooms wide open.
Meanwhile, Barry has also posted about his plant with a bit of background information.
By example and his own enthusiasm, Barry has really opened my eyes to the diversity in the clematis world. I finally get what all of those nutty clematis spotters are going on about.