The phrase ‘Shop Early for Best Selection’ goes in one ear and comes out the other….it is so overused. When it comes to Amaryllis bulbs it really is good advice. The selection goes down the longer you wait, and by mid November all the interesting varieties are usually sold out. The photo shown here is of Amaryllis ‘Papillio’ , probably the most beautiful of them all. Always in short supply due to worldwide demand, this unusual amaryllis is evergreen - it doesn’t die down! The dark green strappy leaves remain healthy and happy all year. All the other amaryllis bulbs need a rest period. This confuses people at the best of times… and now an evergreen one ??
My way of saving amaryllis from year to year is simple, and based on how they grow in South Africa, their original home. So, after your amaryllis is done flowering , it needs to make its big strappy leaves in order to make food (through photosynthesis) and rebuild itself after putting on that fabulous show of blooms. You need to help it by giving it some plant food and growing it in a brightly lit window in a warmish room. Any plant food will do - Miracle Gro, 20-20-20, Schultz etc. The leaves are not very attractive, but they work for the plant and need to eat something – so fertilize often. When it is really warm outside, probably late May, put the whole thing, pot and all, outdoors under a tree or somewhere shady (at first). Gradually expose the plant to more sun, and forget about it until autumn. Usually, it dies down and looks dead by then. But, it is just resting.
In October, clean it up (remove old leaves etc) and possibly repot it if it looks crowded or unhappy. Then grow it in a bright window and wait for a fantastic show of flowers , just like the year before. If you don’t get any, you didn’t fertilize it enough and it is mad at you . Try again next year !
October 21, 2010
October 18, 2010
Autumn brings a whole new dose of creativity to the nursery. Our displays are refreshed with pumpkins, gourds, twigs, bales of straw, birch branches and stumps (my new obsession) and anything else that we can find.
Gardeners in our climate can indulge in many of the best and largest Heucheras I have ever seen . One variety in particular, Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’ stands out. This plant has warm, maple syrup coloured foliage with a jaggedy edge . It combines well with purple kale, bronzy grasses and the fabulous orange leaved Heuchera ’Peach Flambe’ for an evergreen combo in a pot or in the garden.
We also love lichen-covered sticks in acid green or celadon/grey. They can be stuck in pots, left lying around on their own, or standing in a vase or metal bucket. You may find your own (many old fruit trees would appreciate a good pruning and are often being killed by a severe case of lichen attack ).
So, drop by the nursery and get inspired ! There is a facet to autumn gardening that does not involve planting bulbs….. you may find it here !
October 14, 2010
I think my biggest autumn treat is when my Nerines bloom. These bulbs are originally from South Africa, and the plainest pink form (Nerine bowdenii) is hardy in Vancouver. If you drive down Dunbar Street in Sept/Oct , (around West 20th and Dunbar), you’ll see them in a couple of yards . Lots of them ! Several years ago, one of the residents of the main ‘nerine house ‘ gave me some of his bulbs. I struck up a friendship with ‘ Mr. Gallagher’ , and also bought his cut nerines for my florist shop. They last 3 weeks as cut flowers and his were unusually tall .
Being a mad hybridizer (orchids,clivia,daylilies,amaryllis…..), I immediately started breeding nerines. I had acquired a white one, a cherry red one, a peachy one and an ivory one . My goal was to possibly introduce some nice colours that could be grown outdoors all year (in zone 8). That was ten years ago . Now, each autumn I look forward to seeing my seedlings flower. Some have taken five years to bloom, some longer. I am thrilled by the range of patterns and colours in my seedlings. Each one is unique in foliage width, flower colour, foliage colour, bulb size and bloom time. I doubt if any are hardy…. and I am afraid to risk leaving them out all winter. So, I grow them in pots . Nerines like, no, demand a ‘summer bake’. This means they appear dormant (no leaves or blooms) and sit in the sun curing. The bulbs position themselves at least 1/3 up and above the ground anyway.( They rot if planted too deeply).
They can be quite dry all summer. I water occasionally , to keep them plump. I watch for the flower spikes in September, and by October they are in full glory. Just when our weather gets cool/near freezing, the show is over and my pots of nerines go into a cool greenhouse (but heated to about 50 degrees fehrenheit) and sit there all winter looking half dead. I keep them dry. When the weather warms up in May, out they go and I repeat the bake cycle, knowing that autumn will awaken my sleeping beauties.
I will be selling these nerines at Southlands. The best time to divide is in summer, so this is when I expect to make them available. If you love them and can care for them, put your name on our ‘wish list’ and we’ll let you know when they are ready !
October 8, 2010
Always considered to be a retail pioneer, Thomas Hobbs was Canada’s first Vietri client. It began in 1993, when ‘HOBBS’ the gift store in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale shopping area (which he and partner Brent Beattie still own), began importing Vietri’s charming dishes .
Eventually, Vietri hired a Canadian sales rep…. and other stores were selectively chosen to be allowed to carry the line. Many more have been turned down.
We constantly hear that our prices for anything Vietri are the best in town. If this is ever found to be even slightly untrue, we immediately make a deal on the spot , to beat anybody’s price on Vietri!! Try it and see for yourself !!
Now, Southlands Nursery is carrying the gorgeous flowerpots that are all totally handmade in Italy. These pots are not frostproof…..don’t leave them outside in winter. They are great outside for the summer and come in dreamy, subtle colours. With our latest shipment, we received lots of smaller pots, priced as low as $29.99 for the smallest sizes. Large pots are mostly $299.00. This is very reasonable, especially when you realize that potters hand throw each piece…..you can see their handprints in the clay. If you go to any local pottery show, try to even find a 14″ pot. If you do, I am pretty sure it will be more than $300.00- anywhere !!