I didn’t intend to post another picture of hepatica, although I still have one more with pretty leaves to show. My sole purpose for choosing this photo today was so I could post the following two links to photos of really interesting hepatica varieties: 1 and 2.
I tried to select a favourite and couldn’t do it. So many incredible varieties! To think, I went from knowledge of a white flower with a few different leaf and flower forms, to colours, to discovering a whole new world.
Hepatica nobolis is a tiny early blooming woodland plant that does well as an under-planting and doesn’t seem to mind a bit of dryness now and again. I rarely see it in use — it seems to be overlooked in favor of the larger, more colorful bulbs that flower around the same time. Or perhaps it is because there is a general (and wrong) belief that woodland plants are boring?
I’ve posted here about a similar white-flowered hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) previously, but have to admit I prefer the more colorful species like the one above.
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).
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.