Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

E-Newsletter: December 2009

The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
December 2009

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

It's come to this, fellow gardeners, the last e-newsletter of the year! Christmas is almost upon us and 2010 soon after that. Neither I nor my staff, the Phoenicians, can believe that another gardening season has come and gone! But do you know what that means? It means the next gardening season is just around the corner.

In this e-newsletter I deal with the past, present and future. For the past we have our Year End Round-Up summarizing all of the fun stuff that's gone on at the nursery in the past year. For the present we have our Gift Certificates perfect for Christmas gift-giving for that gardener in your life or perfect for your loved ones to give to you - there's no shame in a not-so-subtle hint of what you want to find under the Christmas tree! For the future we have our first Sneak Peak into the 2010 season highlighting new plants for a very exciting new year.

Happy Holidays!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians


In this Issue

1. The Year End Round-Up 2009
2. Christmas Gift Certificates and Gift Packages
Sneak Peak #1 into the 2010 Season



The Year End Round-Up 2009
Thank you for a Great Sixth Season!

I would like to thank all of you, our customers, for making our sixth season at Phoenix Perennials another great success. The nursery has continued to grow in leaps and bounds and as you'll soon see we had a really busy year! We couldn't do it without your support, encouragement, and enthusiasm. We are pleased to be a destination nursery within Greater Vancouver and gratified to have a growing number of customers who visit us from Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Interior BC, Alberta, and Washington State.

Our Plants
This year we offered nearly 4000 different species and cultivars of perennials and other garden plants. We believe this is one of the largest selections of perennials in Canada and even in North America. Much of what we offer at the nursery we grow ourselves from seed, cuttings, division and from plant material sourced from Europe, the US, Canada, India, Japan, Chile and South Africa. We have also continued to develop our relationships with select growers in BC, Washington, and Oregon to help bring you an unparalleled selection of garden plants.

We were pleased to be the first or among the first nurseries in Canada -- and even in North America -- to offer many new plants in 2009 including the following:

Helleborus Painted Doubles Strain
Helleborus Onyx Odyssey Strain
Helleborus Berry Swirl Strain
Helleborus Vancouver Medallion
Helleborus Jade Tiger Strain
Helleborus Peppermint Ice Strain
Echinacea 'Coral Reef'
Echinacea 'Firebird'
Echinacea 'Flamethrower'
Echinacea 'Pink Poodle'
Echinacea 'Mac 'n' Cheese'
Echinacea 'Tomato Soup'
Thalictrum Evening Star Strain
Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'
Heuchera 'Sugar Plum'
Echinacea 'Green Jewel'
Agave 'Shira Ito No Ohi' (Queen of the White Thread)
Agave funkiana 'Fatal Attraction'
Ajuga 'Party Colors'
Brunnera 'King's Ransom'
Brunnera 'Diane's Gold'
Ligularia 'Dragon's Breath'
Coreopsis Big Bang 'Red Shift'
Tricyrtis 'Golden Leopard'


We were also pleased to offer hundreds of unusual and hard to find plants in 2009 including the following:

Erythrina herbacea
Epimedium 'Creamsickle'
Meconopsis betonicifolia (Bill Terry Strain)
Clematis Kivistik Series
Podophyllum delavayi
Edgeworthia 'Akebono'
Passiflora 'Inspiration'
Arisaema kiushianum
Spigelia marilandica
Corydalis 'Chocolate Star'
Tricyrtis 'Amanogawa'
Calanthe Takane Hybrids


Special Events
We held three special events at the nursery in 2009! The Hellebore Hurrah!, the Great Easter Plant Hunt, and the Summer Sizzle.

I'm told by many customers that the Hellebore Hurrah! is now their official start of spring. If only Mother Nature would always follow our lead! We were very proud to offer what we believe to be the largest and most exciting selection of hellebores ever offered in Canada including plants from the great breeding programs of Heronswood Nursery, Pine Knot Farm, Marietta O'Byrne, Mother Nature, and many others. This year we offered 89 different species, cultivars, and strains of hellebores. Between 600 and 800 people visited us over the three days of the Hurrah! - including people who made the trip especially from Vancouver Island and the Okanagan - and took home lots of hellebores.

Thank you to Steve Whysall from the Vancouver Sun who wrote a great article about the Hellebore Hurrah! and our wide selection from all the different breeding programs. The article brought many new worshipers to the altar of the hellebore. More than a few new customers didn't know whether a hellebore was an annual or a perennial or if it was an outdoor plant or an indoor plant. All they knew arriving at the nursery is that they had to have a hellebore! While this is of course good for the nursery it is also gratifying to us when people discover the magic of this genus!

The first plants to disappear at the Hurrah! were from Marietta O'Byrne's breeding program. Her plants are so robust and the flowers so large and so richly coloured and beautifully detailed that no one could resist their allure. In particular people loved her Onyx Odyssey (double purple-black) and Peppermint Ice (double mid pink) strains as well as her single yellow Golden Sunrise/Mellow Yellow with huge butter yellow flowers. Also popular were the Winter Dreams 'Elegance White' and 'Picotee' from Pine Knot Farms, the Charles Price Mardi Gras Series, H. foetidus Gold Bullion Strain, H. niger 'Double Fantasy', H. x ericsmithii ‘Winter Moonbeam', and the new Olympic hellebore 'Vancouver Medallion'.

Vancouver Medallion

Onyx Odyssey Strain

Golden Sunrise/Mellow Yellow Strain

Berry Swirl Strain

In April we launched a new event at Phoenix: The Great Easter Plant Hunt: An Easter "egg" hunt for gardeners. In all about 45 people braved a terribly dark, rainy and blustery Easter Sunday morning decked out in their warmest outdoor gear to hunt for colourful eggs filled with over $1000 in prizes! I couldn't believe so many people showed up! But then there were great prizes to be won. There were gift certificates, books, t-shirts, free plants, discount coupons and chocolate hidden in the eggs. It was so cold that the Easter Plant Bunny decided to hide the eggs in one of the greenhouses. Everyone was so well-dressed for the elements though that the Easter Plant Bunny will hide all his eggs outside next year. People had so much fun that the Easter Plant Bunny is also planning to double or triple the number of eggs in 2010!

The Summer Sizzle in mid July featured special displays of our Great Plant Combination Contest winners, a fabulous sale on perennials, an all day clinic on Meconopsis by expert Bill Terry and a series of free workshops put on by myself and the Phoenicians. The Great Plant Combination Contest saw new winners and honourable mentions to our roster of talented gardeners reaching their peak of inspiration and gardening prowess in combining perennials. Our first place winner was Cherry O. from Richmond (pictured right), second place was Sally H. of North Vancouver, third place was Grant G. from Langley and two honourable mentions went to Elizabeth J. of Langley and Connie B. of Coquitlam. Congratulations! We featured workshops on seed propagation, the aster family, architectural plants, ferns, hellebores, clematis and other vines, and deadheading perennials for a longer bloom period. Thank you to Shelley, Diane, Jo and Belinda for teaching the workshops.

Meconopsis expert Bill Terry spent the Saturday of the Sizzle at the nursery answering peoples' questions about Himalayan blue poppies and signing his new book Blue Heaven: Encounters with the Blue Poppy. He had just returned from an expedition to China and Tibet to see blue poppies in the wild. Bill also brought with him our delivery of his strains of blue poppies - some of the best in the world - for our customers to take home with them.

This year we offered 16 different workshops - more than ever before. The varied topics included veggies (for both summer and winter), herbs, earth-friendly gardening techniques, attracting beneficial insects and birds, miniature Stone Art gardens, perennial hanging baskets, succulent wreaths (pictured at right), container planting design (for both summer and winter), spring bulbs, grasses, fragrance in the garden, and shade garden design. Thank you to our instructors Diane, Shelley, Belinda, Cliff and Felice for your enthusiasm, knowledge and sense of fun. We also hosted two wine tasting workshops with Phoenix Perennials' official sommelier Randy Rae. He taught his increasingly inattentive students about wines to pair with barbequed food and refreshing wines to sip on the summer patio. If you have any ideas for workshops for next year, let us know!

The In-Nursery Design Service
In 2009 our Phoenix Perennials designers, Shelley and Diane, worked collaboratively with many gardeners to help them create new beds and renovate old ones, all while staying true to the unique vision, style and goals of each gardener. The In-Nursery Design Service is great for gardeners that want to be hands on in their garden but who need a little help planning and designing their space. Here are some before and after pictures from one of our star pupils, Cherry O. of Richmond. Congratulations on such an amazing transformation!


Garden Group Talks
Once again I enjoyed a busy year of speaking to garden clubs and at gardening events. This year I spoke at the BC Home and Garden Show, the World Rose Festival and the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. I spoke to the Comox Valley Horticultural Society, the Victoria Hardy Plant Group, the Sechelt Garden Club, the Alpine Garden Club of BC, the Richmond Garden Club, the Friends of the Garden at UBC, the Certificate in Garden Design Course at UBC, and the Inland Empire Gardeners in Spokane, Washington. I also enjoyed launching my new talk on the spring flora of Western Australia at the Cedar Lecture Series at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Thank you to all of the different groups who invited me to speak this year. It was a pleasure to join you and talk about plants and gardening.

If I haven't visited your garden club yet, or if you want to have me back, I'd love to have the opportunity in 2010. Send me an email for more information.

We also had fun hosting garden clubs at the nursery including the Gibsons Garden Club and the Port Coquitlam Garden Club. We offer free tours of the nursery and a show and tell style talk for garden clubs who visit us as a group. Please email us for more information. We also hosted the plant sale of the Pacific Northwest Palm and Exotic Plant Society in May which, for a weekend, filled our shade house with tonnes of irresistibly exotic plants!

Charity Shopping Weekends
Our tradition of giving back to the community continued in 2009. We held six Charity Shopping Weekends over the course of the season to benefit the Richmond Therapeutic Equestrian Services, the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society, the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society, the Richmond Centre for Disability, the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, and the Homestart Foundation. In total we raised over $1100 for these worthy charities. In the four years that we've been holding our Charity Shopping Weekends Phoenix Perennials has donated over $6100 to local charities and worthy institutions. We look forward to holding more Weekends in 2009. Watch for our call for applications in the January e-newsletter.

The UBC Collectors' Plant Auction
We were proud to once again be a major corporate sponsor of the UBC Collector's Plant Auction, a gala fundraising event for the UBC Botanical Garden. The night was filled with silent and live auctions of rare and choice plants donated by Phoenix, other nurseries and individuals. There was also much food, wine and merriment. The auction was once again a great success and earned $32,000 for the garden. We donated lots of rare and unusual plants to the silent and live auctions including a Schefflera taiwaniana from my collecting trip to Taiwan which is rarely seen in Canada or anywhere else for that matter. The Collectors' Plant Auction takes place every two years. Watch for announcements when 2011 comes around. If you love plants, this is a great evening.

The World Rose Festival
Visitors to this first ever event at the new convention centre loved our "Paisley Garden" inspired by the “new wave planting” designers, such as Piet Oudolf, and paisley (yes the fabric pattern!). This concept of swirls, squiggles and dots along with some signature Phoenix Perennials botanical intrigue made for a splash at the show. The most photographed plant at the whole rose show had to be our foxtail lilies!

Thanks to landscape designer Kevin Paetkau ( who designed and built the pavilion which has now been moved to the nursery and to Diane Levings of Full Bloom Flowers on Commercial Drive ( who provided the rose bouquet that graced the inside of the pavilion.

The Phoenicians
Once again I am so thankful for my great staff, the Phoenicians. Thanks to them - Kathleen, Natascha, Diane, Shelley, Monica, Ted, Belinda, Rika, Jo, Nick and Diana - for working hard, having fun, and making it all possible. A special thank you to Kathleen, our Retail Manager, who kept the retail side bopping along with scrumptious displays and happy customers and to Natascha, our Production Manager, who did a great job growing a huge and daunting selection of plants! Thank you to our French intern, Lea, who spent two months with us on work study from her horticultural school in Angers, France.

Thank you to our Hours for Flowers volunteers who were a great help this year. We actually couldn't have done it without you. Thank you also to the Master Gardeners who spent many weekends with us through the spring gardening season.

Thank you to my partner, Randy, who manages without me for 6+ days a week 12-15 hours a day through the crazy spring season and somehow keeps our garden watered and thriving.

And once again thank you to you, our customers, for your kind and loyal support of Phoenix Perennials. May you and your families have a happy and healthy winter season. We look forward to seeing you again in the spring for another gardening season filled with great plants and great fun!

Cheers, Gary

P.S. The Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend is just around the corner on March 5th, 6th and 7th, 2010!



Christmas Gift Certificates and Gift Packages
Be a Hero this Holiday Season to the Gardener in your Life!

We have three great options for holiday gift giving:

1. A Phoenix Perennials Gift Certificate: Our popular gift certificates are great for stocking stuffers or for under the tree. If you've got an avid gardener in your life this is the perfect gift to get them dreaming about the spring and next year's garden. Available in any amount.

2. A Phoenix Perennials Design Service Gift Certificate: We offer in-nursery consultations with trained design professionals in a fun 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. For more information visit our Design Service page. The design service is available at $45 per hour. Each Design Service gift certificate will be accompanied by information on the service.

3. A Phoenix Perennials Collectible T-Shirt: This high quality tee is black with embroidered text in lavender that says "I can only have one husband but as many flowers as I want!" The cost is $19.99 (which includes shipping though taxes are additional). They are great for gardening, plant shopping, going to garden group meetings, and for reminding your husband about your rights! They are available in small, medium, large and extra large. Sizes available while quantities last. For more information visit our T-Shirt page.

Suggested Gift Packages

You could mix and match the above items in any way that you want but here are some suggestions.

New Garden Package: For friends or family who are planning a new garden or need to renovate an existing one.

1 hour Design Service Gift Certificate ($45) + A Gift Certificate in any amount for plants for their new design


Plant Lover Package: For that friend or family member who just can't get enough of plants and gardening.

Phoenix Perennials T-Shirt ($19.99 plus tax) + A Gift Certificate in any amount for plants



Our gift certificates can be ordered online via our secure server by clicking on the Gift Certificate link on the first page of our website You can also call the nursery at our winter number 604-202-0920 to order over the phone. If we are not there, leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible.

Ordering a Normal Gift Certificate: Fill out the form on our website and press send.

Ordering a Design Service Gift Certificate: Fill out the form on our website and press send. Follow this with an email to to tell us that your order is for a Design Service Gift Certificate.

Ordering a Package: Fill out the form on our website. Fill in the total amount of your order. If your order includes a t-shirt add $2.40 for GST and PST. For instance, if you're ordering a Plant Lover Package which includes a $40 gift certificate for plants the amount would be $19.99 + $2.40 + $40 = $62.39. You would put this amount in the online form. Press send. Follow this process with an email to to give us the appropriate instructions as to what you have just ordered.

Happy Holidays!


Sneak Peak #1 into the 2010 Season
Working hard to be your plant mecca!

Acanthus mollis 'Whitewater' - Bear's Breeches - A vigorous, variegated acanthus with striking, bold leaves margined and splashed with white. Four to five foot tall highly ornamental flower stalks of pink and cream emerge in summer. Bred with A. 'Summer Beauty' conferring vigour, more hardiness and heat and humidity tolerance than other variegated cultivars.


Heuchera 'Autumn Leaves' - Coral Bells - Truly a four-season plant, 'Autumn Leaves' changes its personality throughout the year. Mid-sized leaves are red in the spring, taupe in summer, and ruby red in the fall and winter. Try this plant in fall containers with mums and kale and where you'll see it in the summer AND winter months.


Coreopsis tripteris 'Lighting Flash' - Tickseed - A new, bold Coreopsis with striking gold foliage. Perfect for the tall perennial border, reaching three to five feet. Light yellow flowers are a bonus in late summer. Wonderful in the back of the border or a meadowlike setting.


Echinacea 'Gum Drop' - Purple Coneflower - Darkest pink, double, feathery pom-poms are surrounded by a broad brim of candy pink petals. A full-sized plant with strong stems for the middle of the border.


Roscoea purpurea 'Cinnamon Stick' - Roscoea - This hardy Himalayan ginger relative is a stunner in a pot or in a shady woodland garden. Blood red stems ascend to bronzed leaves. The large, orchid-like lavender flowers emerge over a long period in late summer.


Heucherella 'Golden Zebra' - Foamy Bells - Striking bright yellow, feathery leaves are boldly marked with dark-red. Lush foliage and a tight crown make this plant unbeatable for a ground cover or under high branching shrubs. A standout in containers or the front of the border.

And this is only a few of the hundreds of new plants we're planning for 2010! Watch for our next Sneak Peak in the January e-newsletter.


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Word of mouth has been such an important part of our success and growth at Phoenix Perennials. Thank you to everyone who has told their friends about us and thank you in advance for continuing to introduce new people to our nursery! We couldn't do it without your kind patronage and support!

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.

Closed for Winter
Reopening: March 5th through through October 31st, 2010
Seven Days a Week 10am-5pm

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd. 2009

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