Monday, May 9, 2011

Marooned at the Garden Center!

My modest haul of purchases.
 Here's what happens when I'm marooned at the garden center in a thunder/ lightening/ hail storm: I buy a lot of stuff! It was coming down so loudly on the roof of the glass house that it seems I could no longer hear the voice of reason. While the weather prohibited us from making the trek back to the vehicle (lightening came in frequent bursts and the ground was white with hail stones), I picked up some things that I probably wouldn't have otherwise bought. Now that I've got them all safely home, here are my afterthoughts on buying those items. . .

Crocosmia corms. Really? How did these get in there? I distinctly remember doing battle with these ever-multiplying marble-like roots in Victoria. In the stretch of one season, it seemed they could spread thickly from one end of a mixed border to the other. I spent long afternoons, gardening fork in hand, trying to at least thin them out between the shrubs. Must be nostalgia that got them into my cart today. Needless to say, I'll be either planting them in a container or in the cut-flower portion of my community plots and digging them up for the winter. They won't be as hardy in this climate either.
Crocosmia "Lucifer"

Gladiolus corms. I've never been the type of gardener to cultivate these highly intensive flowers. They require sharply drained soil, fertilizer throughout the season, staking, digging up, fungicide and more. If I compare that with maintenance required for the spring bulbs and foliage plants I'm accustomed to growing (a simple repetition of the mantra "que sera, sera" will usually suffice) I am stumped as to how these will fit in. It seems like the more I contemplate portioning off a small portion of my community plots for some cutting flowers, the wilder my imagination gets. Que sera, sera. . .

Ixia corms. Speaking of imagination, I couldn't imagine how to cultivate these when I first got them home. They reminded me of a flower I saw once a long time ago, but I couldn't place the name. When I looked them up, my A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants told me they were "found in grassy and sandy, sometimes marshy slopes from low to high altitudes in South Africa."  It's not an exact match for my site, but I'll give it a try in my ever-expanding cut-flower garden, if only to see which of the rainbow of colors on the package label actually come true (a query that also stands for those gladiolas).

Alocasia sp. (Elephant's Ear) tuber. I'm a sucker for foliage plants, and this is one of the most exotic-looking ones out there. It seems to lend instant atmosphere to the garden. I've grown it before, but gave it away instead of overwintering the tuber indoors. This time I'm playing for keeps.

One of the many new leaves that came down in the storm.
Armoracia (horseradish) root. I might actually be able to stand by this purchase. Given its culinary utility and its reputation for growing and naturalizing in a variety of soils, I'm glad I found it. It will come in handy grated fresh in Asian meals, on pot roast, or in pickling at the end of the season.

Allium cepa (Yellow Onion). I welcome any Allium species in my garden, especially on that I use in the kitchen as much as this. Though the scent of the foliage is too strong for my patio garden, it can serve as a pest deterrent in my vegetable plot. So long as there is adequate drainage in the soil, its an easy crop to grow.

I couldn't take my usual dog-path through the garden center today, so I ended up with an unusual selection of purchases, but I'm pretty sure my friend has me beat. Only after the threat of lightening was completely gone did we attempt to load her sizable metal cow sculpture into the car! 


  1. wonder what will become of your Ixia. Are yours species or horticultural hybrids?

  2. As a fellow "sucker for foliage plants", I can commiserate with you on your sad situation. If I ever found myself marooned at the garden center, no doubt my bank account would be decimated. And of course, my judgement is always in question....

    While lightning and hail are rather unusual here, snow isn't out of the question yet. After all, it's only May.

    Christine in Alaska, trying to stay away from garden centers, today at least

  3. The Ixia are hybrids. I hope to add this to my small list of African favorites (Kniphofia or Red Hot Poker is another one) if they thrive here!

    Christine, I so enjoy the Alaskan perspective! I imagine it would be doubly tempting to linger at the garden center there, while it's still a tad cold outside. Your garden must be brilliant at the height of the season.


If there's one thing better than visiting gardens, it's talking about them. . .thanks for joining the conversation!