As previously mentioned, I decided to stop posting weekly from my ongoing Herbaria project. However, I am still assembling the boxes and taking the photos each week and hope to make this into something bigger once the full year is up in May. Until then they will make an appearance now and again rather than weekly.
When I took this photo we had just experienced a big thaw and I thought it would be interesting to assemble the opuntias to see how they have been fairing up underneath snow. For eight of the nine plants this is their first winter in the ground, outdoors. I checked up on them today (another big thaw) and they are holding up nicely.
I am yet to write extensively about my experiments with hardy cactus in Toronto, Canada, but I promise there is more to come. What you see here represent the sum total that I have growing outdoors to date, but I hope to add many more this spring. The desire to fill up all available space with these ferocious beauties is strong — the trick is in finding them.
If you’d like to learn more about growing hardy cacti, I highly suggest “Cacti and Succulents for Cold Climates” by Leo J. Chance. It’s a fantastic book full of useful information. I’ve gone back to explore its pages and drool over the photos many times since I purchased it.
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. My garden today, January 28, 2013. 2. October 2012. 3. April 2012. 4. June 16 2012.
This morning I took a photo of the garden as it was after a fresh snowfall. Shortly afterward, I dug into my phone’s photo archives and found an image taken from the same perspective approximately 3 months ago, back in October. What a difference!
As I walked around the garden on the morning that I took this photo, deciding which plants would make the cut, I was struck by the shift in foliage colour. Suddenly all of the perennials had taken on their fall colour, which is why I dedicated 1/3 of the boxes this week to foliage. I will say though that looking back, I am surprised by how many flowers were in bloom, most especially the Gem marigold. That it was alive at all, and remained alive weeks after this photo was taken is a testament to the resiliency of the marigold. It’s not just the summer annual that we take it for.
The week I photographed this Herbaria was also the week that I started to seriously pick up the pace in shifting my houseplants indoors and I think it shows. The Japanese maple leaves have their autumn colour and this is the last sighting of outdoor basil until next June.
Last spring we made a big change to the structure of our garden which resulted in a new perennial bed. Since the perennials were still quite small and lacklustre, I made use of the gaps and filled them in with an assortment of seeds including annual flowers, herbs, and greens. All of the plants I put in were in the black/maroon/burgundy colour palette.
In the summer I tucked some Italian radicchio (Cichorium intybus) seeds underneath the tomatillos and pretty much forgot about them until this beautiful, sprawling rosette appeared and threatened to suffocate some of the succulents that make up the bed’s border. The variety in this photo is ‘Rossa di Verona.’ The entire rosette is a massive 20″ wide! Radicchio are pretty, edible, and surprisingly cold tolerant. In fact, dark varieties like this one reach their deepest, best colour in the fall. It makes me wonder why radicchio do not show up in the fall/winter garden alongside ornamental cabbages and chrysanthemums?
As an experiment I intend to cut the heads when these are ready, but leave the root and old leaves to keep growing. Some radicchio varieties have overwintered in my garden before, so it will be interesting to see if this variety comes back.