Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants

E-Newsletter: November 2008


The Phoenix Perennials

November 2008

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

Here we are well into November! The nursery is now closed for the winter season. Your e-newsletter is arriving late in the month because on the last day of October I headed off for a fantastic plant hunting trip in the mountains of Taiwan. In this issue you'll see some of the highlights of this trip and get a glimpse into some plants that you *might* (keep your fingers crossed) see at the nursery in the next few years.

Also in this e-newsletter some suggestions for Christmas gift giving. Do you have a gardener in your life? A Phoenix Perennials gift certificate might be a great (and easy) way to tick them off your shopping list!

Your December e-newsletter will arrive in early December so you'll feel like you've heard a lot from Phoenix Perennials. This issue will include a Round Up of our 2008 season and your first Sneak Peak into 2009!

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians

In this Issue

1. Christmas Gift Certificates and Gift Packages
2. Highlights from Taiwan


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 $40 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 green that says "There are worse addictions than plants!" 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 spouse that it could be worse! 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 ($40) + 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 or 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). Press send. Follow this process with an email to to give us the appropriate instructions as to what you would like to order.

Happy Holidays!



Highlights from Taiwan

For the first two weeks of November 2008 I was lucky enough to go plant hunting with my friends Philip and Dana in Taiwan. This trip marked Philip's third visit to Taiwan so he acted as trusted tour guide to myself and Dana as we travelled around this remarkable island. We visited four main mountain areas Taipingshan (shan = mountain), Nanhushan, Hehuanshan, and the Taroko Gorge.

The island of Taiwan lies off the southeast coast of China and is bisected by the Tropic of Cancer placing it at the same latitude as Cabo San Lucas in Baja California and Cuba. It is only slightly larger in land area than Vancouver Island. While our neighbouring island has peaks to 2200 metres (7200 feet) the island of Taiwan has peaks rising to almost 4000 metres (13000 feet). Indeed there are more than 200 peaks over 3000 metres (9900 feet)!

This incredible topography means that while the lowland and coastal regions of Taiwan are tropical and subtropical, the mountains offer habitats rising all the way into the alpine zone thus providing lots of potentially zone 7 and 8 hardy plants for coastal BC gardens. Generally speaking, plants occurring above 2200 metres (7200 feet) are potentially hardy. Plants occurring above 2600 metres (8600 feet) should be easily hardy.

The flora of Taiwan is closely related to the floras of southern China and the Phillipines. Taiwan has almost 190 plant families, about 1,180 genera, and more than 3,800 species (700 of which are ferns!). Endemic plants (those found nowhere else in the world) represent an estimated one third of the total flora. Mangrove forest is found in tidal flats and coastal bays. From sea level to a height of 2,000 m (6,600 feet) is the zone of broad-leaved evergreen tropical and subtropical forest where ficus, pandanus, palms, teak, bamboos, tree ferns, elephant ears, and camphors are commonly found. The mixed forest of broad-leaved deciduous trees and conifers occupies the next zone, extending from a height of 2,000 to 3,000 m (6,600– 9,800 feet). Pines, cypresses, firs, and rhododendrons grow in this region. Above this level is the zone of coniferous forests, composed mainly of firs, spruce, juniper, and hemlock. Areas of alpine exist on the highest peaks where the trees give way to vast steep fields of not grass and sedges like our mountains but groundcovering bamboo that grows between six inches and two feet tall through which often rise junipers and rhododendrons.

Above (top to bottom): View from Hehuanshan;
Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum
growing out
of Yushania niitakayamensis bamboo dominated
slope near the peak of Hehuanshan
(3416 metres, 11300 feet)

A Few Botanical Highlights

Taiwan is home to a number of cobra lily (jack-in-the-pulpit) species. The two that we saw most commonly were Arisaema taiwanense and A. formosanum though we also saw A. thunbergii ssp. autumnale and A. consanguineum. A. taiwanense showed interesting variation in the wild. Some plants had ripply leaflets while others had leaflets covered in a silvery sheen.

A silver form of Arisaema taiwanense looking a little tattered at the end of the season.

Numerous dramatic members of the aralia family grow in the mountains of Taiwan including Fatsia polycarpa with more dissected leaflets than the common Fatsia japonica that you see commonly in Vancouver, Schefflera taiwaniana a hardy relative of the umbrella plant that we grow as a houseplant, and the imposing rice paper plant, Tetrapanax papyrifer. Forms found in the wild can be quite variable, especially with the Fatsia which showed varying levels of leaflet dissection and Schefflera which, in some specimens, showed gorgeous orange red leaf pedicels instead of the regular green.

Fatsia polycarpa, Tetrapanax papyrifera, Schefflera taiwaniana

We saw countless interesting and ornamental ferns throughout the forests of Taiwan. At times the sheer diversity was overwhelming. One of my favourites was Woodwardia unigemmata, a chain or walking fern and relative to our native chain fern Woodwardia fimbriata. The new fronds emerge bright red and gradually fade to a lustrous green with age. Fronds can reach more than six feet in length. Plants usually occur in large colonies tumbling down steep hill sides and road cuts.

New frond of Woodwardia unigemmata

Another beautiful fern was the epiphytic Vittaria flexuosa that we frequently saw growing on dead logs and stumps.

Vittaria flexuosa, a fern, growing on a fallen log

Travelling to Taiwan in November meant that a lot of plants had long since finished flowering. Some days we were a bit hungry for colour. This lovely fall-blooming clematis was a great antidote to all the shades of green.

Clematis lasiandra

There was frequently other excitement to be had that wasn't botanical in nature. Bad things happen to roads (all the time) in mountainous and typhoon-ravaged Taiwan. This road was the start of one of our hikes, a road that had long ago been abandoned. Surprisingly it still possessed more of its asphalt than many sections of other roads we drove on. Wash outs were common everywhere in the mountains.

Philip walking down the "road"

We saw so many beautiful plants in Taiwan but there was one we were not sorry to leave behind: cabbage. The Taiwanese seem to eat produce in season rather than importing diverse foods from abroad. We saw countless trucks descending mountain roads filled with tonnes and tonnes of cabbage. If our windows were open we could smell the cabbage as the trucks drove by. They were headed to each and every restaurant we visited on the island. We had cabbage at most breakfasts and practically every dinner always stir-fried alone or often with flecks of carrot for colour and, sometimes, with a touch of blessed garlic for flavour.

Cabbage growing here there and everywhere.

As Canadians we are most familiar with Taiwan because of the "Made in" label on many of the products we purchase at our stores. We also often hear about Taiwan when speaking of geopolitical relations. But Taiwan deserves to be better known for the beauty of its landscape, the friendliness of its people, and the richness of its flora.


Changing Email Addresses?

Be sure to let us know your new email address!

Share this E-Newsletter with a Friend

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.

Seven Days a Week 10am-5pm
Reopening February 27th, 2009 with our Hellebore Hurrah! Weekend.

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd. 2008

Back to the Articles Page

Contact Us | Home | © Phoenix Perennials