Friday, January 16, 2009

Exotic Plants for New England Gardeners

When I got up this morning it was -12 degrees outside, though it has gotten warmer throughout the morning and it is now close to 0.
But yesterday my Brent and Becky's Bulb Summer-Flowering Bulbs Catalogue came so my mind is full of exotic flowers.
Brent and Becky's is the most complete source I know for fabulous, unusual bulbs starting with several pages of Alocasia, the giant elephants ears in blacks and chartreuse and strips. These extraordinary plants grow leaves that can reach 2 feet across. They like wet conditions to do their best.
The bulb listings proceed through the alphabet to Zantedeschia, the elegant calla lily. I think I will purchase Cameo, which is a soft blend of pale yellow and rose or perhaps Pink Persuasion another blend, this one in shades of dark rose and burgundy. (Callas also thrive in wet ground.)
On the top of my list however is a plant I haven't dared try yet, Gloriosa superba "Rothchildiana', also know as climbing lily. This is a vining bulb with incredible recurved red petals with a tiny yellow edge.
Of course none of these exotics are hardy to 12 below so they have to be dug up and wintered over in the house or greenhouse.
Another exotic and tender favorite is the datura which I grow from seed (seed the first picture on this page.) because it is hard to find plants, especially of the more unusual varieties. Seeds are available for many wonderful forms, huge pure white trumpets and white trumpets edged in violet, big double yellows, deep purples. Once started these plants grow easily into big lush bushes with soft velvety leaves. Germination can be tricky. Freshly picked seed seems to germinate readily but otherwise I use seed treated with GLA, Gibberellic Acid-3. J.L. Hudson Seedsman has wonderful varieties of pretreated Datura seed.

Find of the Day:
I was planning on featuring an item with daturas or callas or some other exotice flower but came across this beautiful oil painting. What could be a more wonderful comfort in your home on an icy winter day than this ode to spring? The painting is by Kristina Laurendi Havens of Georgia. It is available for purchase from her Etsy shop, Krystyna81.

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