I love this pot I photographed at Paul and Uli’s garden in Etobicoke a few month back. It uses a tender Kalanchoe as the centre feature and is stuffed full of tender echeveria (the frilled varieties are always my favourite), and pencil cactus (lower right).
This is a pot anyone can grow as long as the potting soil has a bit of grit added to it to help it drain well. Unfortunately, none of these plants will overwinter outdoors in cold climates, but they settle back indoors with little fuss.
I don’t even bother upending the roots. I just cut the stems, let them heal over for a few days (forming a callus over the cut end) and then stick them into some sandy soil. They reroot easily, and cutting them back in this way prevents those long and scraggly bare stems that are inevitable with these plants as they grow and drop their older leaves.
We’ve finally had all of the film from our Caribbean trip developed and I now have the arduous task of scanning it all before the end of September (27th), when I will be giving a presentation, here in Toronto, of some of the botanical images.
I took this photo while on a tour of an organic farm in Bellvue Chopin — the one with the cute land turtles pictured here.
The plant is Polygala paniculata, also known as ‘Essence Fragile’ in Dominica. It’s a medicinal herb that is often added to baby’s bathwater as it is believed to help their bones “knit.”
The roots smell of fresh wintergreen!
You can see mountain in the background of this photo. Mountains are in the background of every photo I took in Dominica, unless I was facing the coast. Mountains, mountains everywhere. No matter where you are on the island, you are always going either up or down a steep hill. And it is always hot and incredibly humid. It made San Francisco seem like a cakewalk.
Imagine farming in 365 days-a-year heat and humidity, with access to few resources, weeds that NEVER stop growing, and all on steep hills, no less. I’ve seen mountainside, terraced farming once before (Agave in Oaxaca Mexico), but the logistics of farming in Dominica still came as a shock.
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.
A flower that is just opening and some buds.