I first came upon this incredibly strange ginger (Zingiber spectabile) while touring a wonderful garden and wilderness retreat in Dominica called Papillote.Leave a comment
You Grow Girl was launched in February 2000, as a community for gardeners not unlike myself; people who want to grow but whose garden space is less than ideal. And for those of us with shallow pockets but a big, crazy love for tending plants and making a meal from homegrown fare, wherever home may be. – Read on…
Toronto’s Annual Seed Fair is coming up this Sunday and is expected to be packed to the gills. I find it difficult to shop at this event since I am a vendor and need to focus on working, so I took the opportunity to get some seeds for myself at the Montreal event.
Shopping for seeds in French turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. Here in Canada we are taught French in the public school system, but despite years of lessons, none of it has stuck. I can say, “I don’t speak French” and ask “Where’s the bathroom?” and that’s about it. Most seed packets had the Latin botanical name on them so that helped. But they were often organized according to the common name, which was in French.
I basically felt like a total idiot most of the time, especially when I launched into Spanish when I meant to reply in French. I’m nowhere near fluid in Spanish (I speak it on an infant level) but the language seems to come more naturally to me. As you can probably predict, mistakes were made. For example, I bought morning glory seeds thinking they were something else. I won’t tell you what that something else was — it’s too embarrassing.
That said, I did come out with some good stuff, even if most of it wasn’t on my mental list for this year. Not that I had a mental list, or any sort of list at all for that matter. Year after year it is always the same with me. Try as I might, I am not a planner. I am an experimenter. I pick and choose for the season based more on impulse and the possibility of an interesting experiment than planning. Sometimes plants choose me. For the most part I just go with what comes.
And then I try to stick it all somewhere appropriate in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Below are the items I bought that I will be attempting to stick somewhere this spring.
Top Row (left to right):
Middle Row (left to right):
The next four packages were bought from La SociÃƒÂ©tÃƒÂ© des Plantes who happen to make very nicely designed packages. I didn’t REALLY need more claytonia seeds but I will eventually… and look how nice the package is! That’s my excuse. I showed someone the packages and her response was, “Does that matter?” Hell, yes! Not only does it show that they have great taste but demonstrates that they put an extra bit of effort into their product. Some might say that’s just superficial, but I think it is Classy (with a capital ‘C’).
Bottom Row (left to right):
I need some colour today so I decided to pull out a photo of a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) flower, one of the most beautiful plants I learned about in St. Lucia.
Our friend David called it bronze roselle, but I haven’t been able to find references to that name online. I believe it is called false roselle because it is closely related to Hibiscus sabdariffa, the plant that is used to make sorrel. However, the part that is typically used to make the drink (the calyx) is small, hard and tough on this plant and didn’t seem like it would extract much flavour while the calyx on real sorrel (also called roselle) is plumper.
I’m planning to grow it this year but I imagine it is going to prove to be a bit of a challenge. The plant is big; David’s plants were about 5-7 feet tall. I think I’m going to have to sacrifice one of my the garbage bins I typically save for growing tomatoes. It’s also a long season plant — I’m planning to start my seeds next week to get a good jump on the season. Even if I don’t see flowers before the first frost I can’t imagine being disappointed. The deep red foliage catches the sunlight so beautifully and should pop when sat next to tall, green indeterminate tomatoes.Leave a comment
I thought I’d post a sunny photo today since we’ve been living under grey skies all week and I’m about to collapse into a no-sun, low-energy coma. Although, scrolling through folders of photos of us frolicking in the Caribbean a few months ago is kind of miserable in its own way.
I took this photo on the first of a short four-day stay in Barbados, where I saw lots of wonderfully fragrant fragipani (Plumeria) trees in bloom. If you have never smelled a real frangipani bloom I hope you get the chance someday. They are extremely sweet, soft and rich. For many they epitomize tropical floral fragrance.
We walked for miles through the countryside on that first day trying to see as much as we could. It’s a good thing I soaked it all in while I had the chance because I don’t believe I saw a single frangipani through the following three weeks. Frangipani plants do not like their roots to be waterlogged. Barbados has a MUCH drier climate than Dominica so I figure that has got to be the reason.
Here’s a link to the photo and story of the very first frangipani plant I had a chance to see and smell, ten years ago.Leave a comment
The other day, while shopping in the plant section of the Montreal Botanical Garden’s gift store I came upon a long pair of forceps that a staff member must have forgotten, left sitting among the cacti.
In that moment it occurred to me, aha, yes, THIS is just the tool I need to help wrangle those spiny cactus creatures from one pot to another. No more evil, impossible to locate tiny daggers stuck in my fingers. The forceps could also be used to remove fluff and other debris from impossible to reach nooks and crannies in among the spines. I currently use a stiff bristle paintbrush but sometimes that only makes matters worse.
Yesterday afternoon I went to a surgical supply store to pick up boxes of tongue depressors for my forthcoming book launch party. No, we will not be checking your throat for swollen glands or your scalp for lice before allowing entry to the party! Although that does sound like fun.
I use the large tongue depressors as plant tags when I require a vast quantity for an event. They’re cheap at about $.03 each and can go into the compost bin at the end of the season.
While there, I perused the cabinet of surgical steel tools and low and behold, for 10 bucks they had the same type of 10″ forceps I was admiring at the garden shop.
It wasn’t my idea and I’m probably the last known gardener to come around to this, yet scoring the forceps somehow makes me feel like a bit of a genius and slightly more readied for a minor medical emergency.
If you’re looking online, I found this pair for half the price I paid.Leave a comment