Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants


The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
April 2007

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

Fellow gardeners! Despite the see-saw effect of sun/rain/sun/rain, spring is here and another exciting gardening season is upon us! That means that the e-newsletters are now getting really big, packed with information, announcements and pretty pictures.

The nursery is filling up with colour and botanical excitement, our greenhouses are beginning to sparkle and brim with new and exciting plant offerings, our workshop season is underway, our Charity Shopping Weekends are about to start, our new Design Service is being launched, and other exciting events are coming your way. In particular I would like to draw your attention to the first item in this e-newsletter, an invitation to the UBC Collector's Plant Auction. If you're keen on cool plants, you won't want to miss this event. And if you're thinking of attending you won't want to miss the opportunity to enter our contest to win tickets for two to the Auction! See below for details and enter ASAP.

Also, you'll find an article introducing you to the personalities that are the Phoenicians, my staff at Phoenix Perennials. The Normal Print Edition of the New and Notable Catalogue will be arriving soon. See the information below. And remember: you can also download from our website and print on your printer the Deluxe Version of the catalogue filled with colour images.

See you at the nursery soon!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians

PS. We are participating in the Vancouver Sun/Province Auction Mart. There are twenty $250 Phoenix Perennials gift certificates available for bidding. You could get some great deals if the bidding doesn't reach the full amount!

In this Issue

1. The UBC Collector's Plant Auction
2. CONTEST: WIN Tickets for Two to the UBC Collector's Plant Auction
3. The 2007 New and Notable Catalogue: Normal Print Edition
4. Meet the Phoenicians
5. The New In-Nursery Design Service
6. Upcoming Workshops at the Nursery
7. Charity Shopping Weekend Benefitting the HomeStart Foundation
8. Fabulous at Phoenix


An invitation to attend
The UBC Collector's Plant Auction

The Not-to-be-Missed Plant Event of the Season
Thursday, April 26th at 6:30 pm
UBC Botanical Garden

Carpinus fangiana, Monkeytail Hornbeam

In about a week an incredible horticultural event is going to take place at UBC Botanical Garden. I would like to personally invite you to join me at the UBC Collector's Plant Auction. If you are an avid gardener, a plant fanatic, and/or fond of a good party filled with all kinds of planty folk, you won't want to miss this fun-filled evening of hob-nobbing and botanical debauchery.

The event is a gala fundraiser for the garden filled with wine, food, and music included in your ticket price. During the evening there will be a series of silent auctions of amazing plants followed by a live auction of plants, goods, and unique services. The auction items are all rare and fabulous and you'd be hard pressed to find them elsewhere.

Phoenix Perennials is a "corporate sponsor" this year having donated a lot of plants to the auction.

You can get more information on your ticket purchase and view the tentative plant list at Tickets cost $125 with proceeds going towards building the new Carolinian Forest and Garry Oak Meadow areas at the garden.

I hope you'll consider coming. UBC Botanical Garden does amazing work and they really could use your support!


Win Tickets for Two to the
UBC Collector's Plant Auction
A value of $250 and a night out filled with wine, food, music, fun and incredible plants.
Thursday April 26, 2007

To enter the contest you must correctly answer the following question:

From what country does the Carpinus fangiana (Monkeytail Hornbeam), pictured above, hail?
(Hint: A little sleuthing with should get you the answer.)

Contest Rules and Instructions
1. Email your answer to by Monday April 23rd, 2007 at 5pm. Entries received after this time will not be accepted. Include your phone number with your entry.
2. All entries with correct answers will be entered into a draw for the prize.
3. The winner will be contacted directly by phone on Monday evening. Those who didn't win will receive an email.
4. One entry per person.
5. Now that you've read the fine print, hop to it and get your entries in. This is a great contest!


The 2007 New and Notable Catalogue
Normal Print Edition

The Normal Print Edition (without images) of the 2007 New and Notable Catalogue is at the printers and will be available for purchase at the nursery by the end of April. The price is $4 which is our cost to produce the catalogue. You can also have it mailed to you at a cost of $5. Please fill out and submit the catalogue order form on our website.

The catalogue highlights approximately 260 different plants for the 2007 season. While the catalogue only represents about 9% of our total offerings it offers a relatively large portion of this year's horticultural excitement.

Remember: You can also download and print the Deluxe Version filled with colour images from the website.



Meet the Phoenicians

When I took over at Phoenix four seasons ago I had two wonderful employees. Now there are 10! Each one of them brings their unique personalities, talents, and enthusiasm to the nursery. Together they are working hard to bring you a fun, exciting, and inspiring nursery experience. Here they are, the Phoenicians:

Kathleen - This is Kathleen's second year at Phoenix and her first as our new retail manager. She is friendly, practical, and excited at the challenge of learning the ins and outs of her new position. Look to Kathleen to keep things organized and to help you out if you have any questions or concerns. She'll always do so with a smile.
Diane - You'll appreciate Diane's dry sense of humour and her keen knowledge of gardening (especially using earth-friendly methods) and of plants. This is Diane's second year at Phoenix. This year she is one of our workshop instructors offering a number of exciting courses on gardening and design. Her first workshop has already taken place to rave reviews by her students. Diane is also one of the certified designers that will be working with clients of our In-Nursery Design Service.
Ted - Ted is our friendly and zaney plant nut. If no one else knows about a certain plant, Ted will. Ted is also our seed guy, the force behind our efforts to develop and maintain a regular seed program. Since early spring he has been sowing thousands of seeds and then pricking them out to grow them on. You can expect lots of exciting and unusual plants to come from his efforts. This is Ted's second year at Phoenix.
Gwen - Gwen's favourite word is "fantastic!" (always with an exclamation mark). She is positive, knowledgeable, and keen. Gwen is one of the certified designers that will be working with clients of our In-Nursery Design Service. This is Gwen's second full year at Phoenix.
Alison - Alison brings with her years of experience in gardening and design. She has lots of energy and lots of information to share with you. She is one of the certified designers that will be working with clients of our In-Nursery Design Service. This is Alison's first year at Phoenix.
Belinda - Belinda gardens with plants from the "mundane to the sublime." You'll appreciate her calm demeanour and her great plant knowledge. She also speaks Cantonese and Hindi in case you'd like to talk plants in either of those languages. This is Belinda's first year at Phoenix.
Jo - Jo is bubbly, fun, and knowledgeable though she's showing her more pensive side in her picture! She is also our resident bibliophile. One of her workshops that she'll be offering at Phoenix this year is called Writers in the Garden. This will be a unique workshop and a great opportunity to discover some treasures of garden writing. Her other workshops will highlight some of our lesser known sections at the nursery: shrubs and small trees, groundcovers, and vines. This is Jo's second year at Phoenix.
Diana - Diana is our new cash person for the busy months of April, May and June. She'll be happy to cheerily see you on your way with a trunk full of plants -- after she's gotten your cash, cheque or credit card, that is!
Natascha - Last but not least, our production people. Natascha's favourite word is FUN! She is positive, efficient, and cheeky. She will be working primarily on our production side keeping things growing fabulously but if you're lucky you might run into her. She'll be the one telling you that you're just teasing yourself by sneaking over to her production side because the plants there aren't for sale yet! This is Natascha's first year at Phoenix.
Shelley - A recent addition to our staff this spring, Shelley has been an avid gardener for years. She is very keen about plants and gardening. She can be a bit bashful at first, especially when you try to take her photograph. Shelley will also be working primarily on the production side. This is Shelley's first year at Phoenix.
Gary - And then there's me. I'm Gary, the owner of Phoenix Perennials and a lover of all things botanical. When I took over at Phoenix four years ago I wanted to create a nursery that I would want to shop at - a place brimming with an unparalleled selection of garden plants. I have drawn inspiration from all of my favourite nurseries at home and abroad and combined those ideas with many of my own to create a place that I hope you'll think is something special. I feel confident in saying to you, fellow gardeners, that it's only going to get better! ;-)



Launching May 1st, 2007
The New In-Nursery Design Service

Are you new to the vast world of perennials? Or just stuck for design ideas?
Do you want to plant a brand new garden bed? Or do you need to spruce up an existing border?

We offer in-nursery consultations with trained design professionals in a new and fun streamlined process that will get you the results you crave at a great value. Our goal is to help you design a garden that reflects you and your tastes. To do this we will work with you at the nursery to develop a design that you'll love filled with plants that you love. We will also strive to help you avoid many of the pitfalls related to plant selection and design that can detract from the success of your garden space.

How it Works
1. Ask about our design service and set up a time to meet with one of our designers. We require payment for the first hour of your service at the time of booking.
2. Once you've booked a time we'll get you to fill out our questionaire with questions about your goals for your space, your taste in design and plants, and details of the size, soil and light conditions in your garden. We would also like you to provide us with some pictures of your space at this time. Part of the questionaire requires you to list plants that you like. We recommend that you spend a half hour to an hour at the nursery perusing our vast selection of perennials and listing the ones that you find interesting.
3. Hand in your questionaire. Your designer will look over the information you've provided and begin thinking about your space.
4. Return to the nursery for your design consulation at the pre-arranged time. Your designer will work with you to select the perfect perennials for your site and goals and then show you how to incorporate them into a beautiful design. If you like, we will send you home with a plant-by-number diagram!
5. Take your plants home and get planting. We would love it if you could send us your before and after pictures!

This service will cost $35 per hour, much less than the average cost of a design consultation. The minimum is one hour. Periods less than an hour will be charged in half hour increments of $17.50 each. When we have done these kinds of consulations in the past we have found that the average time required is usually one to three hours, though some larger projects have required four or more hours.

We will begin offering our In-Nursery Design Service on May 1st, 2007. If you are interested in setting up a time for a consulation or have any questions, please call the nursery at 604-270-4133.



We have two exciting workshops coming up soon at the nursery.


Workshop at the Nursery
Principles of Garden Design
Learn the "RRVBESSS" principles to any landscape design project

With Instructor Cliff Thorbes
Saturday April 28th, 10am-12pm



This is a great workshop for gardeners of all levels who are interested in taking their design skills to the next level. Cliff will enlighten you with his mantra of "RRVBESSS", an acronym that sums up the major considerations in any garden design. These principles of design will give you new and exciting insight into working with your garden space.


Spaces are limited. Please call (604-270-4133) or visit the nursery to book your space. Payment is required when booking. Each workshop requires a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 15-25 depending on the workshop. Workshop participants will receive a 15% discount on any purchases they wish to make the day of their workshop.




Workshop at the Nursery
Ephemeral Beauty of the Woodland Garden
Designing for shadey places

With Instructor Diane Brown
Saturday May 5th, 10am-12pm

We will explore principles of woodland garden design and introduce you to a palette of woodland plants from around the world including some BC natives. Each participant will have the opportunity to design a woodland garden bed with the help of Diane and her assistant Gary. Come to the workshop with a five foot by five foot area of your garden in mind including measurements and pictures. Maximum: 15 participants.

Spaces are limited. Please call (604-270-4133) or visit the nursery to book your space. Payment is required when booking. Each workshop requires a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 15-25 depending on the workshop. Workshop participants will receive a 15% discount on any purchases they wish to make the day of their workshop.


Workshops Later in the Season:

Structure in the Garden: Shrubs and small trees for urban spaces | Instructor: Jo Turner | Saturday May 12th, 10am | $15 | Well chosen and positioned shrubs provide an important structural framework for your garden. This workshop will discuss some of the best shrubs for multi-seasonal interest in the urban garden (including flowers, evergreen foliage, berries, and fall colour); selecting the right shrub for your situation; using shrubs in the mixed border; and general care including basic pruning.

Containers to Die For: Discover the easy secrets to success with perennial containers | Instructor: Cliff Thorbes | Saturday May 19th, two workshops starting at 10am and 2pm | $20 | This is a fun hands-on workshop for gardeners of all levels who are interested in learning how to successfully create gorgeous perennial containers. After some practical and design instruction each participant will plant up and take home their own container. Please bring your own large pot (minimum 12-14 inches in diametre) with enough space for at least 3 to 5 one gallon perennials. A large, black, seven gallon plastic pot can be provided at an additional cost of $6. Please order your pot when you book your workshop.

Climbers and You: Taking your garden up to the next level | Instructor: Jo Turner | Saturday May 26th, 10am | $15 | Climbing plants add a vertical element that extends and enhances the appeal of a garden, especially in small spaces. Learn how to select, display and care for vines that will lift your garden to new heights. This workshop will also include a segment on everything you wanted to know about pruning clematis but were afraid to ask.

The Buzz of Beneficials: Natural pest and disease control in the garden | Instructor: Diane Brown | Saturday June 2nd, 10am | $15 | In this workshop you'll learn how to attract and encourage beneficial insects and birds and how to repel slugs, deer and other unwanted critters all through your selection of plants and other tricks.

The Low Down on Groundcovers: Groundcovers that grow on you | Instructor: Jo Turner | Saturday June 9th, 10am | $15 | Groundcovers fill a wide range of roles. We will "cover" several ways of utilizing them including: groundcovers for naturescaping, scent, flowers, evergreen interest, and edibility. We will also explore the practical and environmentally friendly use of groundcovers as a lawn alternative.

The Essence of Place: Exploring coastal native plants | Instructor: Diane Brown | Saturday June 16th, 10am | $15 | British Columbia has a wealth of beautiful and useful native plants including shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers. In this workshop you'll be introduced to our friendly natives and the reasons why native plant gardening is vital.

Writers in the Garden: A purely personal perusal of some favourite garden scribes | Instructor: Jo Turner | Saturday June 23rd, 10am | $15 | Garden writing is especially enjoyable as a way of vicariously visiting gardens, plants or designs through someone else's perspective. The best garden writing is more than this however, encompassing all the qualities of good literature in any genre; facility with language, a particular voice, and the ability to bring whatever is being expressed alive. Through readings and discussion, Jo will share some of her favourite garden writers from around the world and our own backyard. You'll leave this workshop with a list of writers guaranteed to pique the interest of the plant obsessed.

The Dry Garden: Designing a xeriscape garden that goes easy on the drink | Instructor: Diane Brown | Saturday July 7th, 10am | $25 | A workshop on the principles of designing and planting a bed for a hot, dry, sunny spot. Each participant will have the opportunity to design a xeriscape garden with the help of Diane and her assistant Gary. Come to the workshop with a five foot by five foot area of your garden in mind including measurements and pictures. Maximum: 15 participants.

Grasses that Captivate: The transformative powers of ornamental grasses | Instructor: Jo Turner | Saturday September 15th, 10am | $15 | The popularity of ornamental grasses continues to grow as gardeners discover their many virtues. Don't get it yet? Come to this informative talk and learn what grasses can do for you and your garden. Already enamoured with ornamental grasses? You'll love this workshop too. You'll get tips on using them for best effect in your garden design. As well, you'll be introduced to several cultivars you might not have seen before.

Winter Containers: Plant up a container to create winter interest | Instructor: Cliff Thorbes | Saturday October 6th, two workshops starting at 10am and 2pm | $20 | This is a fun hands-on workshop for gardeners of all levels who are interested in learning how to successfully create gorgeous perennial containers that will provide months of winter interest and an antidote against the dark, cold days of the year. After some practical and design instruction each participant will plant up and take home their own container. Please bring your own large pot (minimum 12-14 inches in diametre) with enough space for at least 3 to 5 one gallon perennials. A large, black, seven gallon plastic pot can be provided at an additional cost of $6. Please order your pot when you book your workshop.

Meet your Instructors

Diane Brown is a graduate of Kwantlen's Landscape Design program and was the coordinator of the Earthwise Garden for many years. She has designed gardens with garden ecosystems in mind and specialized in presenting earth-friendly workshops. She works part time for Phoenix Perennials and does landscape design, garden consultations, and workshops in her spare time.

Cliff Thorbes is a certified horticulturalist, artist and designer. He is passionate about container garden design and integrating original art into the garden to create a unique and personal statement. Cliff returns this year to reprise his popular seminars on design and on the secrets to creating containers that will captivate the senses.

Jo Turner (Dip. Hort. Cap. College) is a Vancouver gardener beginning her second season at Phoenix. She has a passion for gardens, plants, books, and the people who tend them. Her interests have led to several years experience in a variety of horticultural pursuits, usually involving mud.


Phoenix Perennials Charity Shopping Weekend
to benefit the
HomeStart Foundation
Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th, 2007

Welcome to our first Charity Shopping Weekend of the season -- a fun way for Phoenix Perennials to give back to the community and for visitors to Phoenix Perennials to support a good cause. We held a Charity Shopping Weekend for the Homestart Foundation last year. It was very successful and they were able to do great things with the funds raised.

What is the Homestart Foundation?: The goal of the HomeStart Foundation is to redistribute safe, clean, functional furniture in a professional, dignified manner, from those who want to share to those who are truly in need. They provide these basic items, free of charge, to people who have been homeless, such as single mothers transitioning themselves and their children from women's shelters back into the community, with the goal of helping them achieve self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and long-term stability. Over 60 member agencies in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby refer their clients to the HomeStart Foundation. For more information visit:

How it Works: Gardeners who wish to support the Homestart Foundation can come shopping at Phoenix Perennials on Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th. When you pay for your plants, tell us that you have come to support the Homestart Foundation and we will donate 25% of the price of your plants to this worthy cause. But remember: you must tell us why you have come to the nursery on that day or we won't know to donate the proceeds from your sale. Other than that, it's pretty simple: all you have to do is shop!

Mark your Calendars! See you at the Charity Shopping Weekend!


Upcoming Charity Shopping Weekends:

May 12th and 13th (Mother's Day Weekend): The Vancouver Gogo Grannies raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Grandmother to Grandmother campaign which sends funds and resources to African Grandmothers who are raising orphans of the AIDS pandemic.

June 16th and 17th: The Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project Society who run the local fruit tree project and the Sharing Farm. The produce they grow is donated to the Richmond Food Bank and other charitable agencies. In the past six years they have harvested over 90 000 pounds of produce!

July 7th and 8th: The Vancouver Hospice Society provides compassionate and dignified care to the dying.

September 15th and 16th: Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue is involved in the trapping, spaying and releasing of feral cats, the rescue of orphan kittens, and the education of the public about these issues.


Fabulous at Phoenix
Gary's Picks of New, Notable and Luscious Plants at the Phoenix Candy Store

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' - Elderberry - Destined to be one of the hot plants of 2007, ‘Black Lace’ has superlative, finely dissected burgundy-black foliage offering both stunning texture and striking folial colour. Clusters of pink flowers are borne in early summer -- a sight to behold against the foliage! The flowers are followed by blackish-red berries.


Romneya coulteri - Matilija Poppy - These upright blue-green foliaged poppies are deciduous subshrubs that prefer a large sunny space in well-drained soil. For this you will be rewarded with an almost continuous display of large, pure white, crinkled petals with prominent raised yellow stamens that appear on the ends of each stem and look like fried eggs sunny side up! Hard to establish and resents being moved - so choose the spot well! Cut back to the base in winter and mulch, if exposed. If you've always wanted one of these, this is your chance. We have imported these specially from the US and future supplies will likely be spotty.


Primula - Primrose - We have at least 25 different species and cultivars of primroses currently available in every colour of the rainbow!

Clockwise from top left: Sapphire Blue, Jay Jay, Francisca/Green Lace, Dawn Ansell.


Arisaema griffithii var. pradhanii - Cobra Lily - Variety pradhanii is the rare Sikkim form of this species. It is the choicest (yes, that is a word in horticulture!) and most beautiful form with a stunning contrast between the dark chocolate-purple background and the yellowish-green markings of the spathe which is up to eight inches across! A. griffithii resents summer heat and moisture. Plant it in a dry, partly-shaded position or at the base of a shrub or large tree.


Arisaema nepenthoides - Cobra Lily - A handsome Himalayan species with a striped and spotted purple and white spathe. The junction between the spathe-limb and the spathe-tube is deeply auricled (eared) presenting a most intriguing inflorescence. The short, stubby spadix is white and the foliage deep glossy green and heavily textured. A. nepenthoides is a tall species to at least four feet and is one of the earliest to emerge, usually in March. The stems are orange with purple mottles.


Trillium grandiflorum 'Plenum' - Double Snow Trillium - This is the spectacular, very rare, fully double form of the eastern North American snow trillium which resembles a delicate white rose or camellia sitting on top of the tripartite foliage. Stunning! Flowers open pure white gradually fading to pale pink. Double flowered forms of trilliums, since they don’t have any reproductive structures and thus don’t get pollinated, often bloom for a longer period than regular trilliums. A single plant (blooming size if you're lucky) would usually cost $90 to $100 if you could find one. Ours, with two to three blooming plants per pot are $89.99 which, while expensive, is a great value and a good price to become one of the few people in the world to have a clump of this superb plant!


Spring Bulbs - Tulips, fritillaria, daffodils, ornamental onions. We have a wide selection of beautiful and uncommon bulbs currently bursting into flower.

Tulipa tarda


Ferns -- We have tonnes of new and interesting ferns, both deciduous and evergreen.


Heuchera 'Peach Flambe' - Coral Bells - This sister cultivar to ‘Marmalade’ has larger, smoother leaves with flaming red infusions. The glowing orange-red foliage of spring and summer mellows to rich tones of peachy-plum in autumn. White flowers in late spring. Vigorous. Great in containers or as an attention-getting accent plant.


Paris polyphylla - Paris - Perhaps more than any other perennial, this rare woodland treasure earns the right to be called “exquisite”. Paris is a Trillium relative from the Himalayas, Western China, and southeast Asia. The stem is circled by a single whorl of glossy, green leaves which is echoed by the flower with its own whorl of green bracts subtending threadlike yellow-green petals, golden stames and purple ovary. Part shade in rich soil. Very large tubers.


Ribes sanguineum 'Brocklebankii' - Red-flowering Currant - A new form of our native red-flowering currant with wonderful gold leaves and pink flowers. The leaves emerge bright gold in spring and gradually cool to chartreuse by summer. Morning sun and afternoon shade would be ideal as the leaves can scorch in too much heat and light. But if you can get the spot right you will certainly be rewarded. A real draw for hummingbirds.


Geranium 'Jolly Bee' - Cranesbill - 'Jolly Bee' is a large, mounding geranium which is smothered in distinctive, bright blue, two inch wide, white-eyed flowers the whole summer and fall until frost. The plants and flowers are more robust than your average geranium so give it a good amount of space. Best in part sun (in full hot sun the flowers may appear more purple than blue). Drought tolerant. Customers are reporting that this is an excellent plant. I wouldn’t know since we’ve sold out immediately two years in a row!

Share this E-Newsletter with a Friend

So many of our new visitors come to us through word of mouth. If you like what we're doing at Phoenix Perennials, please consider telling your gardening friends about us.

If you have any other questions please contact us at

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)

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.

Seven Days a Week 10am-5pm
March 2nd, 2007 through October 31st, 2007

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd. 2007

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