Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants


The Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
September 2006

Hello from Phoenix Perennials!

Usually at this time of year I bring out the old trumpet to herald the arrival of toadlily (Tricyrtis) season, one of my favourite groups of perennials for the late summer and fall, but this year Steve Whysall beat me to it by highlighting them in his Vancouver Sun column. He also mentioned Phoenix as a sure bet to find a good selection. After getting nearly cleaned out of toadlilies last weekend, I'm happy to report we've just got some more in! Here is a particularly gorgeous new cultivar we've grown this year called 'Taipei Silk'. Note the shades of purple, royal blue and navy blue with that fabulous centre and light spotting for good measure. At only one inch across this is a small flower but they are borne in profusion, bloom for months (often until the hard frosts) and up close they're a botanical marvel!

Tricyrtis 'Taipei Silk' -- Toadlily

For more information on and images of toadlilies visit the Learn Section of the website for last September's article entitled A Toadlily Extravaganza.

And don't forget: Fall is a great time to plant perennials. In fact, it's just as good as the spring! The ground is warm, the fall rains just about to begin and the cold air temperatures of winter are still a long way off. This means that perennials have a nice low stress time to settle into their new homes with some good root growth before winter. Then in the spring your new plantings will have a big head start. The gardening season isn't over yet. You've still got until November to get those new beds in!

In this issue you'll find an article on botanical tulips, an announcement of our new bulb offerings, the winners of our Got Deer? Draw, info on our upcoming grass workshop and my upcoming lecture at Van Dusen and info on our continuing Echeveria sale.

Cheers, Gary and the Phoenicians


In this Issue
1. Botanical Tulips: Jewels of the Spring Garden
2. Fall Bulbs Are In!
3. Got Deer?: Winners of the Deer Proof Draw
4. Upcoming Workshop: Grasses that Captivate
5. Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World: a lecture at VanDusen Botanical Gardens
6. Echeveria Sale: 2 for 1


Botanical Tulips
Jewels of the Spring Garden

A Brief History of the Tulip: Once upon a time no one in the western world had ever heard of a tulip. The Turks knew all about them and grew them as early as 1000 AD. So, unbeknownst to us, across the wilds of central and western Asia and in Turkish gardens about 100 species of exceptional little bulbs would emerge from their winter dormancy every spring to sparkle with their vibrant, beguiling colours.

Then in and around the late 16th century tulips arrived in Europe. They soon became de rigeur and a sign of status in households both rich and poor. Botanists began to hybridize them creating more and more exciting forms. By late 1636 and early 1637 'Tulipmania' was at its peak in Holland. The bulbs were so popular that the most desirable varieties could cost more than a house in Amsterdam at the time! The tulip craze lead to a huge speculative market in tulips, one in which ordinary men clammered to participate because of the vast amounts of money being made. They sold their businesses, family houses, farm animals, home furnishings and dowries in order to buy bulbs that they had never seen. Eventually, supply increased and the price of tulips plummeted. The "Tulip Crash" sent many people into bankruptcy. Others lost all of their savings. All because of the tulip. The Dutch government then introduced special trading restrictions in order to avoid further fits of uncontrollable plant lust on the part of its population.

Today tulips are one of the most beloved of flowers and one of the world's major commercial flower crops, both for cut flowers and horticulture.

Mini Botanical Tulips: Before the Dutch got to them, before there were Darwin tulips, Triumph tulips, parrot tulips and bouquet tulips, fringed and lily-flowering tulips, peony-types and viridifloras, French and Kaufmanniana tulips and all of the other large, bold and colourful hybrids there were the species -- those small, beguiling denizens of Asia with an allure and beauty all their own.

Botanical tulips are what tulips used to look like and still look like in the wild. They are smaller in bulb size, height and flower size than your standard spring tulips but they are just as colourful and perhaps a little bit more sophisticated looking more like a sparkling jewel than a big brash boisterous flower.

Botanical tulips also offer something that the big hybrid tulips don't: STAYING POWER. Whereas the hybrids will last for a single year, maybe two, the botanical tulips are perennial. They will return year after year and will usually multiply with each passing season. Consequently, they are great for naturalizing. They also work well at the front of the border and in pots.

This year at Phoenix we are pleased to offer 20 different species and varieties of botanical tulips. We hope you'll be inspired to try some in your garden. Here is this year's list:

T. batalini 'Bright Gem'
T. chrysantha
T. 'Honky Tonk'
T. kaufmania 'Waterlily'
T. 'Lilac Wonder'
T. 'Little Beauty'
T. 'Little Princess'
T. 'Peppermint Stick'
T. praestans 'Tubergen Variety'
T. praestans 'Unicum'
T. pulchella 'Eastern Star'
T. saxatilis
T. turkestanica
T. tarda

T. clusiana 'Lady Jane'
T. clusiana 'Tinka'
T. humilis
T. humilis
'Persian Pearls'
T. polychroma
T. 'Red Hunter'



Fall Bulbs are In!

Welcome to our first foray into fall bulbs. We currently have on hand an exciting selection of some of the more uncommon and unusual bulbs such as botanical tulips, camassia, fritillaria, cyclamen and erythronium, as well as some striking new cultivars of hybrid tulips, hyacinths and daffodils.

We hope you'll come have a look at what will become a regular fall tradition at Phoenix.

Clockwise from top left: Allium schubertii, Tulipa 'Garant', Tulipa 'Peppermint Stick', Camassia quamash, Erythronium 'White Beauty', Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra'


Got Deer?
Winners of the Phoenix Perennials Deer Proof Draw

Entrants to our Deer Proof Draw had to list the plants that they've found to be deer "proof" as well as the plants they've found to be delectable deer delicacies. Their lists will be used to develop an information sheet on gardening with deer that will be available at the nursery and that will be shared with you in a later e-newsletter. The winners were chosen at random from the group of entrants. So without further ado:

The Winners are:

Marjorie J. of Port Alberni
Joyce H. of Nanaimo
Barbara K. of Qualicum Beach

Each of you have won a $50 Phoenix Perennials Gift Certificate!



Upcoming Workshop at the Nursery
Grasses that Captivate
The transformative powers of ornamental grasses

A Season in the Garden: Fall Perennials

Cliff Thorbes

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 love 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 cultivars you might not have seen before.

Saturday September 16th, 10am-12pm

Please book your space in advance by calling the nursery at 604-270-4133.
Payment is required at the time of booking.
For all workshops please dress for the day's weather. We will be either outside or in the greenhouse.


Other Workshops This Season with Cliff Thorbes

Winter Containers: Plant up a container to create winter interest plus A Season in the Garden: Fall and Winter Perennials | Saturday October 7th, 10am | $15 | At the container workshops, each participant will plant up and take home their own container. Please bring your own large pot with enough space for at least 3 to 5 one gallon perennials. Large black plastic pots can be provided on request.


VanDusen Botanical Gardens presents
Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World
Botanically Intriguing Options for Your Garden

Join Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials, for a whirlwind trip around the world to discover a multitude of weird and wonderful plants to add botanical intrigue to your garden. In this colourful, image-rich and dynamic PowerPoint presentation you'll discover amazing plants from every continent (except Antarctica!) including Cobra Lilies from Asia, acacias and bottlebrushes from Australia, broadleaf poker from South Africa, bear grass from North America and much more.

Monday September 11th, 2006
Van Dusen Botanical Garden

Spaces still available!
Please visit the VanDusen website to register.


Echeveria Sale Continues!

2 for the price of 1

Echeveria are great in pots on the patio and make good houseplants in the winter. Mix and match for a stunning combination of succulent foliage.

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 3rd through October 31st, 2006

Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd. 2006

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