Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

E-Newsletter: February 2011

The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
February 2011


Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

Spring is here, fellow gardeners! The snowdrops and crocus are up and the hellebores are in bud and bloom already in the garden. It always amazes me that in weather so unhospitable to humans (rain, wind and cold) that so many of our garden lovelies are happily popping their heads up and emerging into a new gardening season!

As most of you already realize, February and the start of spring means we're on the eve of big things at the nursery, chief among them the Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend. Prepare to be wowed and inspired by one of the largest selections of hellebores ever offered in North America! At last count we had nearly 90 different strains, cultivars and species ready for you. Our shade greenhouse will be packed to the rafters with colour and hope! Don't miss it! Come find out why so many customers call the Hellebore Hurrah! the official start of the gardening season in Vancouver.

Linked to this e-newsletter and also available from our website is the Hellebore Hurrah! Catalogue listing most of the hellebores we'll have on offer at the Hurrah! There is also information about hellebores, their care, and the breeders that bring us such amazing plants.

Fabulous at Phoenix this month takes the theme of the hellebore and presents numerous garden plants that make great companions to hellebores in the winter and early spring garden.

Also in this issue: find out more about my recent trip Plant Hunting in Chile with plant explorer Dan Hinkley, have a look at upcoming events, garden club talks and workshops at the nursery and don't forget to get your applications in for your charity's Charity Shopping Weekend.

See you soon at the nursery!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians


Green for Life!

Green for Life! magazine (formerly the Healthy Garden Guide) is now available for online viewing. Hard copy versions will be available soon at Phoenix and other nurseries throughout BC. Inside you'll find many useful and informative articles including one by me on Hot New Plants (page 10)! Enjoy!


Win Tickets for Two to the
BC Home & Garden Show

March 2nd-6th, 2011

Five chances to win!

Contest Question: When will Gary be speaking at the Home Show and what is his topic?
Click Here to Enter the Contest

Gardeners' School Speakers
Gardeners' School Schedule


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Recent Updates

Plant Hunting in Chile 2011
- See the intriguing plants and incredible landscapes that I visited in late January and early February.
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In this Issue

1. The Hellebore Hurrah!
2. News, Dates and Other Tid Bits
3. Plant Hunting in Chile

4. Charity Shopping Weekends 2011: Call for Applications
5. Fabulous at Phoenix: Hellebore Companion Plants


Opening Weekend 2011
The Hellebore Hurrah!
Celebrating early spring and all things Hellebore

February 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2011

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

This year we bring you an unparalleled selection of different species, cultivars and strains of hellebores 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. You won't want to miss this weekend!

Mark your calendars!

The Hellebore Hurrah! Catalogue 2011

The Hellebore Hurrah! Catalogue includes information on hellebores and their cultivation, the breeders whose hellebores we'll be offering plus a catalogue of most of the plants that will be at the Hurrah! Enjoy, but beware!

Click here to download the catalogue (5.8 MB). The catalogue is in pdf format and is 5.8 megabytes in size. Click on the link to open it. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it which you can download for free from the Adobe Site. Once opened you can save the catalogue to your computer or print it for detailed study and pre-shopping.

Free Workshop
Hellebores in the Garden: Secrets of Success with the Lenten Rose
Instructor: Shelley Brignall

Take a tour of the various hellebores for the garden then learn about their soil, nutrient, light and water requirements, how to clean them up after the winter, how to dead head the flowers, take care of potential pests, how to divide and much more. The workshop will last for approximately one hour.
Friday and Saturday of the Hellebore Hurrah! at Noon.

We will have available for purchase at the Hellebore Hurrah! copies of
Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide
by C. Colston Burrell and Judith Knott Tyler

This excellent book is the definitive book on the genus Helleborus, packed with up-to-the-minute, comprehensive information on growing, maintenance, design, hybridization and selection. It is lavishly illustrated and is an excellent reference for hellebore lovers of all levels.

See you soon!


News, Dates and Other Tid Bits

A Home for our French Intern

Damien Chaplais is a 23 year old student of the National Institute of Horticulture in Angers, France. As part of his degree he must spend two months working abroad within the horticulture industry and in a language other than French. Damien describes himself as "passionate about plants" and is therefore really excited to intern at Phoenix Perennials.

Damien would like to enhance his Canadian experience, both culturally and linguistically, by being billeted in a Canadian home. He will arrive in late April and remain in Canada for approximately two months. If you would be interested in billeting Damien for all or part of his time here, please contact Gary at the nursery. The families/persons who billeted our previous interns, Jeanne and Lea, spoke highly of the experience.

Looking for a Few Good Students for Weekend and Summer Work

Phoenix Perennials is looking for a few good students to work at the nursery on weekends in the spring and full time in the summer.

An interest in plants and horticulture is, of course, an asset.

You must be between the ages of 15 and 30, be a full time student, and intend to continue your education in the fall of 2012. You must also be a legally entitled to work in Canada.

Please forward your resume by email or drop it off a the nursery.


The Phoenix Perennials Calendar
Event Type
Event Desription
Feb 22
Garden Club Talk

Hot New Plants
presented by Gary to the Dunbar Garden Club

Dunbar Community Centre, 7:30pm, Ken  (604) 734-4029
Feb 23
Garden Club Talk
Hellebores: Jewels of the Winter Garden
presented by Gary to the Richmond Garden Club
Fri-Sun Feb 25-27
Special Event
The Hellebore Hurrah! Opening Weekend
Phoenix Perennials, 10am-5pm
Fri/Sat Feb 25/26
Hellebores in the Garden: Secrets of Success with the Lenten Rose | Instructor: Shelley Brignall | FREE
Phoenix Perennials, 12 noon
March 5
Garden Club Talk
Hot New Plants
presented by Gary at the BC Home and Garden Show
Vancouver Convention Centre, 2pm
Apr 6
Garden Club Talk
Hot New Plants
presented by Gary to the Master Gardeners
VanDusen, 7:30pm (Open only to Master Gardeners)
Apr 11
Garden Club Talk
Avoiding the Summer Doldrums
presented by Gary to the Quadra Island Garden Club
Barbara, 250-285-3681
Apr 12
Garden Club Talk
Avoiding the Summer Doldrums
presented by Gary to the New Westminster Garden Club
Centennial Lodge, 7:30pm, Ellen 604-525-7927
Apr 18
Garden Club Talk
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World
presented by Gary to the Pitt Meadows Garden Club
Heritage Church, 7pm, Natasha 604-612-4807
Apr 19
Garden Club Talk
Hot New Plants
presented by Gary to the Evergreen Garden Club (Delta)
Apr 20
Special Event
The UBC Collectors' Plant Auction
sponsored in part by Phoenix Perennials
UBC Botanical Garden
Apr 24
Special Event
The Great Easter Plant Hunt
An Easter "egg" hunt for gardeners
Phoenix Perennials, 10am sharp!
Apr 27
Garden Club Talk
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World
presented by Gary to the South Surrey Garden Club
May 4
Garden Club Talk
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World presented by Gary to the Burnaby Rhododendron and Gardens Society
Burnaby Village Museum, 7pm, Rosemarie
Watch for workshops, Charity Shopping Weekends and other special events like the Clematis Conundrum, May Maple Mania, Fathers' and Mothers' Day Celebrations and the Summer Sizzle to appear on our calendar next month.


Plant Hunting
in Chile

In late January and early February I spent two weeks in Chile on a plant hunting trip with friend and plant explorer Dan Hinkley. We travelled from the BioBio region south to the Island of Chiloe taking in an incredible tapestry of plants and landscapes. This region of Chile with its mountains, volcanoes, ocean, fiords, lakes and rivers looks uncannily like BC and the Pacific Northwest. In fact, when I first arrived in the southern city of Puerto Montt I felt as if I had arrived in a Norwegian town set in Howe Sound populated with Hispanic people! Even the climate felt similar to that of Vancouver, albeit Vancouver in the summer since February in the southern hemisphere is equivalent to our August. The gardens were filled with hydrangea, Japanese anemone, agapanthus and other mid to late summer garden plants in full bloom.

Despite the similarity of the landscape, closer inspection revealed forests of monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) and southern beeches (Nothofagus spp.) underlain with species of Alstroemeria and unique ferns such as Blechnum chilense and B. magellanicum not to mention the ubiquitous Fuchsia magellanica and more gunnera (Gunnera tinctoria) than you could ever imagine!

High elevation monkey puzzle forest (Araucaria araucana) on a ridge facing the Llaima Volcano.

Our days were spent hiking and collecting seed. Our nights were spent cleaning and packaging seed to bring home to our nurseries for study and, potentially, to offer to the gardening public. Keep your eyes open in the next couple years for plants from Chile at Phoenix Perennials!

There were many botanical highlights but here are some of the most memorable:

Viola cotyledon: A succulent rosette-forming violet that grows in the alpine on free-draining volcanic soils.
Alstroemeria sp: We found this species of alstroemeria growing along the side of the road in a large mass of hundreds of flowers.
Alstroemeria aurea: This is the spreading alstroemeria of gardens. We saw it covering large areas in the forest understorey and along roadsides.
Monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) rising from the slopes with the Sierra Nevada range in the background.
Rhodophiala sp. aff. moelleri: This amaryllis relative grows at high elevations, in this case on the Villarrica Volcano.
Drimys andina: A beautiful evergreen shrub that grows in the understorey of mountain forests.
Gunnera tinctoria and Gary by the shore on the Island of Chiloe.
Embothrium coccineum, Chilean flame tree in full bloom. This is a magnet for hummingbirds both in Chile and when grown here in Vancouver.
Gunnera tinctoria growing in seeps along a vertical rock wall. These are FULL size gunnera plants! Desfontainia spinosa: A beautiful shrub with holly-like leaves and orange-red and yellow tubular flowers.
Mitraria coccinea is a climbing, scrambling kind of character that you can find up in a tree or clamouring across the forest floor. It's successful though. It is common in moist forests.
Dan and Gary about to hike the smoking Villarrica Volcano, one of only five volcanoes in the world known to have an active, bubbling lava lake. We didn't hike to the edge of the caldera - no plants there!

View over 100 more images of Chile on our Facebook Page!
You don't have to be a Facebook Member to view the images.


Charity Shopping Weekends 2011
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 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 $8800 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 or at 604-270-4133. I will then forward them an application form.

The participating charity 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.

Deadline for applications: February 28th, 2011.



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

Hellebore Companion Plants
This month for Fabulous at Phoenix we have a theme of perennials and shrubs that are great companions for hellebores in the late winter and spring garden. Not pictured here but also worthwhile would be Skimmia japonica, Sarcoccocca humilis and ruscifolia (sweet box), and Cornus sericea (red-twigged dogwood).

Arum italicum - Painted Arum - As the rest of the garden wanes in autumn, the painted arum sends up masses of ornamental deep green leaves marbled with cream which persist through winter. In spring large creamy green spathes appear amongst the foliage. These are followed by wands of plump, firey orange fruits in summer. Plant in a prominent spot in the shade garden where it can be enjoyed in all four seasons.
Primula 'Wanda Mix' - Primrose - A very good performer for March along a path or peeking out from under deciduous shrubs that creates a mass of mauve flowers with yellow-eyes. Divide every 3 years after it blooms.
Cyclamen coum 'Something Magic' - Hardy Cyclamen - ‘Something Magic’ is the first ever hardy cyclamen from tissue culture! Each dainty leaf sports a miniature Christmas tree with a silver halo and is topped by large rose-pink flowers in February and March. Plants are summer dormant and come into leaf in the fall or winter. Plants do well under deciduous trees and go dormant as the trees leaf out. As the trees lose their foliage in the fall, the cyclamen come up. Cyclamen require little water when dormant.
Cyclamen hederifolium - Ivyleaf Hardy Cyclamen - This delicate shady perennial has charming pink flowers with a magenta V at the base of each petal. The leaves are ivy shaped, dark green and often marbled with light green. C. hederifolium is summer dormant coming into leaf and bloom between August and October. It remains evergreen throughout the winter. Grow in light, well-drained soil in shade or part shade. Plant en masse for a superb woodland effect. Widely distributed along the Mediterranean from France to Turkey.
Daphne odora 'Mae Jima' - Winter Daphne - This extra variegated version of winter daphne is an improvement on ‘Aureomarginata’ in terms of foliage. It blooms in February and March with purple buds opening to white, lusciously fragrant flowers. Plant in part sun/part shade with morning or late afternoon sun (protect it from the hottest sun of the day) in rich, well-drained soil. Winter daphne should offer just the lift you need to get you through the end of winter and into the excitement of spring. Do not move after planting due to sensitive roots.
Carex 'Evergold' - Sedge - One of the most beautiful of all the sedges, the narrow foliage arches into attractive humocks. Each leaf is vividly striped dark green and creamy gold. The nice weeping habit makes ‘Evergold’ usefull as a woodland border, near a water feature, in mass plantings, and in pots and planters! Though recommended for average to moist sites I have found it to be quite drought tolerant in shaded areas. Evergreen.
Carex 'Ice Dance' - Sedge - A useful and beautiful sedge with broad green leaves edged with creamy white. Evergreen.
Acorus gramineus - Japanese Sweet Flag - This sweet flag from Japan has tilted fans of gold foliage. The flowers are inconspicuous. Best grown in evenly moist soil and even as a marginal plant in ponds.
Blechnum spicant - Deer Fern - Deer fern has two types of fronds, vegetative and reproductive. The vegetative fronds form an attractive, evergreen rosette of broadly spreading, glossy fronds that hug the ground. Later in the season a set of finer textured, vertical, spore-bearing fronds arise from the centre of this rosette. BC is blessed with beautiful native ferns among which deer fern must surely be included.



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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.

Opening Dates and Hours
February 25th, 2011 until October 31st, 2011

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.

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