March 14, 2006



Both in spring, and autumn, the plant collector gets to enjoy a bit of cross-over. That strange period where plants from the southern hemisphere are blooming in their "autumn" while plants native to the northern hemisphere are enjoying the warm protection of the cold greenhouse. Thus, one can get displays that combine tender South African winter blooming bulbs like the Lachenalia above, with Cobalt blue Tecophilia cyanocrocus, the rare South American Blue Chilean Crocus (not a true crocus), combined with tender greenhouse alpines like the unusual frost sensitive polyploid primrose, Primula x "kewensis"with it's spikes of yellow flowers protected from the deep cold under glass.

Even stranger cross-over's happen since there are some southern hemisphere plants that convert growth cycles to the northern cycle, so that their "spring" is the same as a northern hemisphere spring, and some northern plants that are more hardy, are brought in from the still-frozen bulb bed, like crocus and fritillaria, and forced a few months earlier. Confusing, I know, but the plants lead you there, and you just follow and let them do what they do, and the result is a brief period where you ger spring and fall bloomers from both the southern hemisphere and the northern, all blooming together. Not a bad jumble, especially in this case since I gathered all the yellow and blue colors together.

I have a few friends who actually hate winter, and complain that they can't wait to move to a warmer climate. I never really could relate to that, even before the greenhouse was built, nor do I have any issues with winter, or early spring and the pending mud-season. The light, the scents of the damp muddy soil, the color of the frost as the buds begin to swell all excite me. Sure, to the uninformed, the outdoors does seem a bit grey. But to the more clever and adventurous gardener who is curious about life in all of its forms, this dullest of months in the northeast can provide hope and inspiration. Oh sure, and a greenhouse with a collection of interesting genus also helps with coping on overcast damp days, during what can be the smudgiest season of the year - March


  1. How can I get an Australian jacaranda, grown from seed and in an outdoor container, cross over to northern hemisphere seasons?
    It's about 3 metres tall

    1. IM not sure how this works with herbaceous or woody plants. My guess is that it may not matter as much as they are continually growing and may be less vernal (without an internal dormant season baked in as bulbs and geophytes have). No certain though.


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