Euphorbia dulcis Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

E-Newsletter: January 2012

The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
January 2012

 

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

I feel good about 2012. The number feels good. It's nice and round and even. I'll ignore the fact that the Mayan calendar is kind of doom and gloom about this year and focus on the auspiciousness of it being the Year of the Dragon, one of the most revered in the Chinese calendar. I was born in the Year of the Dragon so that feels good. I also feel optimistic because after three springs of rather crazy weather it must be time for Mother Nature to send us a beautiful spring. Actually, just give me average and I'll be happy. I don't need any snowstorms on the Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend thank you very much, Mother Nature.

It's our NINTH season at Phoenix Perennials, if you can believe it. The number nine doesn't feel as nice and full and round as 2012 but it's very close to the number 10 which is a decade and which has a certain ring to it and which is no small feat to achieve as a small business in this rough and tumble world. So we'll go with the number 9 and start planning for our 10 anniversary next year.

It's going to be an exciting year at Phoenix Perennials with some of the same (great plants, lots of events, cool workshops) and lots of new (new plants of course but lots of new innovations coming your way).

In this issue take note, fellow gardeners, of the dates and details of our 2012 season kick-off The Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend. You'll also find an article on growing your own kiwis and turning them into jelly, a call for applications for our Charity Shopping Weekends and a Sneak Peek of some new and exciting plants that we'll be growing for you this year!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians

 

Opening Weekend 2012
The Hellebore Hurrah!
Celebrating early spring and all things Hellebore

February 24th, 25th, and 26th, 2012
10am-5pm

 

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In this Issue

Opening Notes: News, Tidbits and the Phoenix Calendar

1. The Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend
2. The Joy of Kiwis: From Vine to Jelly
3. Charity Shopping Weekends 2012: Call for Applications
4. Sneak Peek #1 into the 2012 Season


Opening Notes: News, Tidbits and the Phoenix Calendar

The Phoenix Perennials Calendar
There's so much going on at the nursery all the time. Here's your resource to keep track.
Date
Event Type
Event Description
Details
Fri
Jan 20
Conference
Hot New Plants: Cutting Edge Garden Plants for Cutting Edge Retail and Design
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World: Botanically Intriguing Options for Retail and Design

Presented to the joint conference of the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals and the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association
Tulalip Casino, Washington
Thurs
Jan 26
Garden Club Talk
Hot New Plants: Cutting Edge Garden Plants for Cutting Edge Retail and Design
Presented to the Garden Design Group
Vancouver
Open to members only
Tues
Feb 7
Conference
Hot New Plants: Cutting Edge Garden Plants for Cutting Edge Parks and Cities
Presented to the BC Recreation and Parks Association Annual Spring Training Conference
Pinnacle Hotel, North Vancouver
Thurs
Feb 9
Garden Club Talk
Hellebores: Jewels of the Winter and Spring Garden
Presented as part of the Cedar Lecture Series at VanDusen Gardens
Contact the garden for tickets.
Vancouver
VanDusen Gardens
Wed
Feb 15
Garden Club Talk
Hellebores: Jewels of the Winter and Spring Garden
Presented to the UBC Friends of the Garden (FOGS)
Vancouver
UBC Botanical Garden - Open to members only
Sat
Feb 18
Garden Show
Hot New Plants: Cutting Edge Garden Plants for Cutting Edge Gardens
Presented at Victoria's Seedy Saturday
Victoria, BC
11:30am
Victoria Conference Centre
Tues
Feb 21
Garden Club Talk
Hellebores: Jewels of the Winter and Spring Garden
Presented to the Port Coquitlam Garden Club
Port Coquitlam
Contact Michelle at michellepay at yahoo.ca
Wed
Feb 22
Garden Show
Hellebores: Jewels of the Winter and Spring Garden
Presented at the BC Home and Garden Show
Vancouver
BC Place Stadium
Fri-Sun
Feb 24-26
Special Event and Workshop

Opening Weekend 2012
The Hellebore Hurrah!
Celebrating early spring and all things Hellebore
February 24th, 25th, and 26th, 2012, 10am-5pm

 
Phoenix Perennials
Tues
March 6
Garden Club Talk
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World: Botanically Intriguing Options for Your Garden
Presented to the Victoria Horticultural Society
Victoria, BC Contact Rafe Mooney at rafus_m at hotmail.com
Tues
April 10
Garden Club Talk
Avoiding the Summer Doldrums: Great Garden Plants for Summer and Fall
Presented to the White Rock and District Garden Club
White Rock, BC
Contact Yvonne minniesdiner at shaw.ca
April
14-22
Tour
Various talks to the passengers onboard the MS Amadante cruising the waterways of Holland and Belgium and taking in Keukenhof and Floriade as part of a UBC Alumni Tour.
Holland & Belgium, MS Amadante
Tues
June 19
Garden Club Talk
Avoiding the Summer Doldrums: Great Garden Plants for Summer and Fall
Presented to the Evergreen Garden Club
Delta, BC
Contact Terry at tafindlay at dccnet.com
Wed
June 27
Garden Club Talk
Avoiding the Summer Doldrums: Great Garden Plants for Summer and Fall
Presented to the Saltspring Island Garden Club
Saltspring Island
Contact Marcia at everlastingsummer at saltspring.com
July 4-10
Conference
Groupon or Coupon?: Using conventional and modern marketing strategies to build and maintain your customer base
Presented to the Perennial Plant Association at the 30th Annual Symposium, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Mass.

 

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1.

Opening Weekend 2012
The Hellebore Hurrah!
Celebrating early spring and all things Hellebore

February 24th, 25th, and 26th, 2012
10am-5pm
After the Hellebore Hurrah we will be open for the season
seven days a week 10am-5pm

Brace yourselves for one of the largest and most exciting selections of hellebores ever offered in North America and the official start of spring in Vancouver!

This year we continue the fun and excitement with an amazing selection of hellebore species, cultivars and strains sourced from some of the best breeders in North America and around the world. There will be lots of new cultivars. We will also be offering free workshops on hellebores. Mark your calendars! You won't want to miss this weekend!

Watch for a full Hellebore Catalogue in the February E-Newsletter!

Until then here are some images of hellebores that will be available at the Hurrah! to tide you over.

Helleborus Winter Jewels Strains: Berry Swirl, Painted Doubles and Onyx Odyssey

 

Helleborus Winter Thrillers Strains: Grape Galaxy, Red Racer, Pink Parachutes

 

Helleborus Spring Promise Series: 'Mary Lou', 'Rebecca' and 'Sandra'

Mark your calendars!

Hellebores = Hope
Spring is Coming Soon!


2.

The Joy of Kiwis
A Journey from Vine to Jelly

There are few experiences more satisfying in one's garden than successfully growing something that you can eat, especially when it's something you can share with friends and family. It's even better when it's unique enough to elicit impressed oohs and aahs from all those who hear your stories or, better yet, have a first-hand experience tasting the bounty of your garden!

At my house we produce two products that inspire awe and admiration: honey from our own bees and kiwi jelly from our own kiwis. We don't really do it to show off. The bees were something my partner had been interested in for years. The kiwis were something that we planted when we first started our garden because we could in coastal BC and we had a big ugly garage to hide. The kiwi jelly resulted from the yearly conundrum of what to do with 60 or 80 pounds of kiwis ripening all at the same time!

Kiwis are in the genus Actinidia in the Chinese gooseberry family, the Actinidiaceae. There are 40-60 species in this genus all native to Asia. The commonly eaten species is aptly named Actinidia deliciosa and is native to southern China. There are other species that are grown in gardens for their ornamental qualities including foliage that develop pink tips like Actinidia kolomikta (the Arctic beauty kiwi), Actinidia pilosula and Actinidia tetramera var. maloides (rosy crabapple kiwi) with pink flowers (which we'll be offering at the nursery this year for the first time).

Most kiwi species are dioecious with separate male and female plants. To get fruit you need to plant both sexes near eachother in the garden. In my garden we planted two females and one male on the east side of my garage-turned-greenhouse. The male is sufficiently macho to pollinate both females. Two ladies are better than one when you're after high fruit prodution. We carry one variety called 'Issai' that is self-fertile and so only one plant is required. It produces smooth, green, edible fruit.

Actinidia are large, rampant, decidous vines that need a structure or large tree to climb on and a lot of space in which to sprawl. They have brown fuzzy stems, large, rich green, heart-shaped, textured foliage, pure white flowers centred with masses of golden stamens and the fuzzy brown berries that we call kiwifruit. Full sun and rich soil are the best for fruit production though all are tolerant of part shade which makes the ornamental kiwis valuable over a wide range of light conditions. A. deliciosa is hardy to at least zone 7. The Arctic beauty kiwi, A. kolomikta, is hardy to zone 4!

Flowers of A. deliciosa. Photo borrowed from Wikipedia.

The first commercial plantings of A. deliciosa were made in the 1940s. Though native to China it was New Zealand that popularized this new fruit to the world. The original common name for the fruit is Chinese gooseberry. In New Zealand it was given the moniker kiwifruit after the round, brown, furry kiwi bird, the national bird of that country. In the 1980s 99% of all kiwifruit was grown in New Zealand and 95% of that fruit was grown within 50 kilometres of Te Puke, Bay of Plenty. Today Italy is the largest producer of kiwifruit followed by New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece, Japan and the United States.

Kiwifruit has high levels of vitamin C and potassium. It also contains vitamins E and A and is high in dietary fibre. Not only is it good for your health and your digestive system but it's a beautiful plant for the garden, a perfect way to brag to friends and family from the rest of Canada about what you can grow in your garden in BC, and a wonderful way to grow your own food.

From Vine to Jelly: In the following collage of images I take you from the garden to the kitchen and show you how we made our kiwi jelly!

The flowers of A. deliciosa emerge in mid to late spring and are often downward-facing. They are fairly large, ornamental if you look for them amongst the foliage and also fragrant. In the first image the small white flowers are not from the kiwi but from a sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata) that grows intermixed with the kiwi. The kiwifruit develops through the summer and into fall. We usually harvest in November once a few light frosts and some wind has caused the foliage to drop from the stems and the fruit is visible and more easily picked. Don't wait too long as a hard frost, squirrels or other vermin can ruin the harvest.
This year we harvested about 60 pounds of kiwifruit! When we pick the kiwis in November they are still hard and need time to ripen. You can bring them inside and ripen them as you would a green tomato on a windowsill or on the counter. We put them in large plastic totes or portable coolers and leave them closed up on the patio. They slowly ripen over the next month or two. Watch out for hard cold snaps as you don't want the fruit to freeze and turn to mush. Once the fruit is ripe we bring it inside and wash it in the sink. We then slice it up and prepare it for juice extraction.
We love our juicer that we got from Lee Valley. You can use it to extract juice from any fruit. It has three levels. The bottom level is filled with water brought to a boil. The middle layer has a hole that allows the steam to rise up to the third layer which is a collander holding the fruit. The steam causes the cells of the fruit to burst and release the juice. The juice drips down into the second layer. At this point in the process the green fruit releases a golden yellow juice.
A rubber hose is used to empty the juice from the juicer and collect it in a large pot. We got lots of juice out of our kiwis this year which you can see in the middle picture in the two pots which are sitting with all the implements needed for the next step of the process. Also important is sterilizing the lids of the jars.
In the oven we sterilize the jars. You can also do this on a hot cycle in the dish washer. We use Certo Pectin Crystals and follow the directions for grape jelly included with the box. In the middle picture Randy is skimming off the white foam so that it doesn't go into the jars. There's an art to knowing when the hot juice has been cooked long enough to set perfectly. Too little time and the jelly won't set. Too much time and the jelly will turn to glue. My mother-in-law Ramona uses a heavy stainless steel spoon to check the readiness of the liquid. Throughout the process of cooking lift the spoon up and watch the drops. At first the liquid will drip of liberally from the spoon. When the liquid turns viscous and you see it sticking to the spoon like a gel you know it's ready. Remember to also follow Certo's directions not to combine batches! If you are doing multiple batches it is a good idea to clean the pot with hot water between batches as sugar can burn onto the side of the pot and flavour your jelly.

In the picture on the left Randy is pouring juice into the sterilized jars. Allow the jelly to cool for about 5 minutes and then take a small spoon and skim off any white bubbles that rise to the surface. Dip the spoon in hot water to remove the bubbles before dipping it back into the jelly. In the last photo you can see our golden bounty: jars and jars of kiwi jelly. The flavour is like a grape a jelly but more complex and kind of tropical. It's one of my all-time favourite jellies or jams, perfect in peanut butter sandwiches, on pancakes or waffles, on crackers with cheese and Randy even uses it to glaze fruit desserts. Yum!

I hope you've enjoyed this little article. If you're going to do some canning of your own make sure to research the process especially all the steps related to sterilizing your jars. I haven't covered absolutely all the steps here and I want you to be safe and have fun.

 


3.

Charity Shopping Weekends 2012
Call for Applications

We are currently accepting applications from charitable organizations and institutions who would be interested in participating in our Charity Shopping Weekends program.

Charity Shopping Weekends are a way for Phoenix Perennials to give back to the community while helping to introduce gardeners to our nursery. Each month one charity or occasionally a group of likeminded charities will be selected to participate in a Weekend. During that Saturday and Sunday 25% of each purchase made by a customer who tells us they are there for that charity's Weekend will be donated to the charity. Since 2004 we have raised over $10,000 for local charities.

The charity that can benefit most from a Charity Shopping Weekend is one with a base of supporters that can be easily (and cheaply) contacted and mobilized. If you are involved with or know of a charity that is looking for fundraising opportunities, please forward this information to them and have them contact me if they are interested at phoenixperennials@shaw.ca or at 604-270-4133. I will then forward them an application form. Deadline for Applications: March 1st, 2012.

The participating charities will be announced each month in the E-Newsletter. If you would like to support that charity (or are looking for ways to justify your hortaholic tendencies), consider doing some shopping on the Charity Shopping Weekends.

 


4.

Sneak Peek #1 into the 2012 Season
Working hard to be your plant mecca!

Here are just a few of the hot new plants we have planned for you in 2012.

Heuchera 'Spellbound' - Coralbells - Marvelous ruffled foliage of dazzling silvers with tints of rose purple that will leave you spellbound. The purple tones are more prominent in the spring. Silver tones are more prevalent in shade. It forms a big plant with a dense, multicrown habit. Great in containers or in the landscape. Compared to 'Sugar Plum', 'Spellbound' is a larger plant with a denser crown and more sculptured leaves. The leaves have rose purple tones in the spring and fall when grown in full sun.
Heuchera 'Delta Dawn' - Coralbells - 'Delta Dawn' has magnificent, large, round leaves with red centers in the spring and fall; in summer its red veins run like rivers to the sea against a gorgeous gold to lime main leaf colour highlights the venation. Strong, vigorous habit. Perfect for a shade container or to add color to a dark area. Delivers the "look" that Heuchera 'Miracle' promised.
Heucheura 'Paprika' - Coralbells - The brightest orange heuchera on the market with large, warm, glowing cherry-coral foliage. The colour changes from a bright rose orange in the early spring to orange in the summer with a white veil to burgundy with a white veil in the winter. Larger leaves due to H. villosa breeding.

Hosta 'White Feather' - Plantain Lily - This amazing hosta emerges with leaves ghostly white creating a striking spring display. As the leaves mature, streaks of green begin to appear amongst the white for a continuation of the unique foliage show. Lavender flowers.

We had this hosta last year but our sneak peak meant that we had so many requests for it that not one plant made it to a retail display. Everything was sold by special request from our production greenhouse. This year we have a whole bunch more and they should make it to our retail area. That being said, you can still make a special request!

Cypripedium 'Sabine' - Hybrid Lady's Slipper - ‘Sabine’ offers huge flowers with lips the size of a chicken egg! The lip is ivory white and flushed with pink. The tepals have a creamy white background and are striped with deep pink. The plant itself grows to a maximum of 50 cm (20 inches). Strong stems and long lasting flowers that bloom for three weeks complete the list of attributes for a great garden display. A cross of two Chinese species: C. fasciolatum and C. macranthos. Seed grown. Plants will resemble the image but may not be identical.
Cypripedium 'Gisela' - Hybrid Lady's Slipper - ‘Gisela’ is a particularly robust hybrid, ideal for the beginner and famous for its vigour. Within a few years it forms big clumps, 35-45 cm (13-18 inches) high. Rich soil is required for vigourous growth. The striking flowers have a creamy lip marked with pink and accented by lucious red tepals. Grown from seed. Plants will resemble the image but may not be identical. A hybrid of the Asian C. macranthos with the North American C. parviflorum var. parviflorum.
Cypripedium 'Hank Small' - Hybrid Lady's Slipper - ‘Hank Small’ resembles the European lady´s slipper (C. calceolus) and the North American yellow lady’s slipper (C. parviflorum var. parviflorum). A hybrid of the latter species and the Asian C. henryi, it is much easier to grow in the garden. The intensely coloured yellow lips are surrounded by rich burgundy tepals. Strong plants often produce two blooms on one stem. Grown from seed. Plants will resemble the image but may not be identical.
Colocasia 'Bikini-Tini' - Elephant Ear - The bluish-gray leaves face up forming cups that show off the dark purple petioles and veins. A tetraploid with strong stems and thick leaves that can hit 7 feet! Hardy as low as 6b (Oh my!), it makes a great tropical statement in the garden or in containers in evenly moist soil and full sun. It can also be grown as a marginal in ponds. Yellowish-white spathes and spadixes may appear in summer but are usually hidden by the foliage. Mulch in winter. If in a container, put it in a shed or garage
Colocasia 'Sangria' - Elephant Ear - This beautiful, tall elephant ear sports vibrant pink to dark red petioles holding bluish green leaves with purple veins that branch throughout the blade. Hardy as low as 6b (Oh my!), it makes a great tropical statement in the garden or in containers in evenly moist soil and full sun. It can also be grown as a marginal plant in ponds. Yellowish-white spathes and spadixes may appear in summer but are usually hidden by the foliage. Mulch in winter. If in a container, put it in a shed or garage.
Colocasia 'Madeira' - Elephant Ear - 'Madeira' is a velvet, black-leaved dwarf selection to two to three feet that you long to touch such is the beauty of the foliage. Hardy as low as 6b (Oh my!), it makes a great tropical statement in the garden or in containers in evenly moist soil and full sun. It can also be grown as a marginal plant in ponds. Yellowish-white spathes and spadixes may appear in summer but are usually hidden by the foliage. Mulch in winter. If in a container, put it in a shed or garage.
Polygonatum 'Double Stuff' - Solomon's Seal -This variegated Solomon's seal has double the white margin making a new classic beauty for the woodland or shade garden. Each arching red stem carries large leaves with broad white margins and green centres. The white flowers dangle below the leaves in spring. A clean and elegant, eye-catching plant. Much broader band of white than 'Variegatum', around the whole leaf. Compared to 'Double Wide' it is has narrower leaves, longer stems, and is taller.
Heucherella 'Solar Eclipse' - Foamy Bells - Leaves of red brown bordered in lime green combined with such a beautiful habit and broadly scalloped leaf edges. There is nothing else like it in the world of Heucherella or Heucher for that matter. Forming a vigorous mound of dense crowns, 'Solar Eclipse' has it all!
Delosperma Fire Spinner - Ice Plant - This shockingly fabulous colour combination has firey orange petals morphing into hot magenta and then cooling down into icy white punctuated by the yellow stamens all against apple green foliage. Ice plants are long-blooming and carefree succulent mat-forming perennials similar to sedums that thrive in heat, drought and nearly any well-drained soil. Very hardy but should be protected from winter wet either with very well drained soil or in the rainshadow of a house or other structure. Deer resistant.

 


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Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.
One of the largest and most exciting selections of perennials in the Lower Mainland.
Specializing in distinct perennials, fragrant shrubs, hardy subtropicals and the botanically intriguing.3380 No. 6 Road, Richmond (Between Bridgeport and Cambie)
604-270-4133
www.phoenixperennials.com

Please visit our web page for information on the nursery, driving directions and a map.
We are near the south end of the Knight Street Bridge and very easy to get to from all of the surrounding municipalities and beyond.

Opening Dates and Hours
Closed for the Winter Season
Re-opening for the 2012 season with our Hellebore Hurrah! February 24-26, 2012


Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.

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