This morning, I set out to post a different photo until I was reminded that it is St. Patrick’s Day, a day I most often associate with clovers. Technically oxalis and clovers aren’t the same thing, but they are often mashed together around this particular holiday. In truth, I’m going through a rather rabid oxalophile phase (am I the first to coin this term?) and don’t really need an excuse to post a photo of anything oxalis, or clover for that matter.
I found this particular oxalis growing in an area of Dominica called Giraudel, right beneath the nipple fruit, in fact. The plant is used locally as an herbal tea for sore throats and has the local name ‘Malgoj.’* I saw it several times throughout the island, and later in St. Lucia as well.
This is what the leaves look like.
* Source: “Caribbean Wild Plants and Their Uses” by Penelope N. Honychurch.
Until about a year ago, I had no idea that there were so many different types of galanthus, or that there is a mini subculture of galanthophiles* who are REALLY hardcore into collecting and identifying the subtle variations and markings in these teeny flowering bulbs. Not that I blame them — once you’re made aware of the variations, it’s difficult to not be drawn in.
I was browsing garden magazines at a friend’s the other day and I believe it is the current issue of Gardens Illustrated that has an article on galanthus with a gorgeous photo of several individual petals lined up on a piece of wood. That photo alone is enough to turn me into a galanthonerd.
On a related note: the other day, while taking this photo, I asked my friend Barry if snowdrops have a scent. At the time I noted how difficult it is to get down that low onto the ground to take a whiff. It did not occur to me that I could pick a bloom and bring it up to my nose. Dur.
* I thought I was making up a new jazzy word, and imagined myself an absolute genius for a quick second, too until I did a search and discovered the term is in widespread use. And since the mid-nineteenth century no less. Am starting to wonder if the galanthogeeks would have me as one of their own regardless of my sincerity and commitment.
Early season blooms have started to appear this week in tandem with some other solid signs that we’ve turned a corner away from winter and closer to the start of spring here in my neck of the woods. While most gardeners are raving about the snowdrops — and they are beautiful, no doubt — I was most delighted to see another, though less popular harbinger of the season, Eranthis hyemalis unfurling in the sun for the first time.
Gardeners often complain about the difficulty in establishing eranthis, but most of my experiences with this early bloom have been with plants that appeared mysteriously from nowhere and established themselves with no work at all.
A visit to Erika’s apartment a month back has inspired a new sense of excitement about my own windowsills. The morning after the tour, we experienced a rare winter treat here in Toronto: sunshine! While my windowsill has been transformed several times since, here’s what it looked like on that first morning of sun.
In the photo above you can see [left to right]: ‘French Lace’ scented geranium, Chilean oxalis bulbs that I recently planted, another oxalis that has gone dormant, variegated Cuban oregano (that thing does not stop growing. I have cut it back hard, several times), and the edge of a ‘Centennial’ kumquat tree.
This is the other windowsill in my office [left to right]: Microgreens freshly sown in a recycled salad container (behind), spineless blue agave (front), lithops, another dormant oxalis, donkey’s tail sedum (Sedum morganianum) (hanging).
And here’s what it looked like yesterday afternoon when the sun was shining once again [left to right]: Pelargonium ‘Fair Ellen’, yet unidentified echeveria I bought a few days ago, pelargonium ‘Mabel Grey’, another unidentified echeveria from the same purchase, sea onion (Ornithogalum caudatum).
What are you growing on your windowsill?
Please post a link to a photo or post on your blog about what’s on your windowsill. We can inspire one another and beat the winter is almost over blahs.
Next Friday, March 19 at 5pm EST I’ll randomly select two people from the comments below to win one of the following price packs:
- One of our “I Heart Dirt” tees, six packs of organic vegetable and herb seeds from Cubit’s Organics, a package of assorted garden buttons and magnets (also designed and produced by us), and one of the few remaining Grow Great Grub book launch party door prizes that includes a specially made “Grow Great Grub” button and a pack of organic vegetable seeds by Urban Harvest.
- Six packs of organic vegetable and herb seeds from Cubit’s Organics, a package of assorted garden buttons and magnets (also designed and produced by us), and one of the few remaining Grow Great Grub book launch party door prizes that includes a specially made “Grow Great Grub” button and a pack of organic vegetable seeds by Urban Harvest.
Until recently I was unaware that witch hazel is cold tolerant in my climate. Here’s the evidence: a large witch hazel tree in full bloom just this morning in my friend’s garden.
We’re experiencing a warm and sunny spell here in Toronto that is lifting our collective spirits. Suddenly things are in bloom as if it is spring. But it isn’t really quite spring and I keep reminding myself that while all signs point to it, we could have another blizzard ahead of us just yet.
March is a deceptively soft and cuddly lamb, for now.
More witch hazel: