Lychnis Seed Saving

If the leaf is grey & fuzzy, the deer usually turn up their noses.

spring lychnis lychnis coronaria, rose campion, edging the bed
photo by SVSeekins

Maybe they don’t like fuzz, just like I don’t like to eat the felted skin on a peach. More likely it’s because fuzz is common on drought tolerant plants.  And drought tolerant plants are often dry & unpalatable.  Deer aren’t stupid.

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, bloom garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

It is my good fortune that Rose Campion, aka Lychnis coronaria, is so deer resistant.  They ignore the upright stems and the hot pink flowers, too.

Lychnis are tough plants.  Left on their own, they’ll self seed willy-nilly.  That’s not a bad thing while I’m waiting for other perennials and shrubs to mature.  Because Lychnis is very easy to grow & transplant, they’ve become one of my go-to fillers (along with foxglove & snapdragons).

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I grow them as a mini-hedge in hopes of keeping deer out of sections of the garden.

They’re also super-handy in areas with very little soil, or little moisture, where little else will survive  🙂
These Lychnis might not grow as tall as the ones that are irrigated, but they’re just as delightful.

Lychnis, rose campion seed collecting
photo by SVSeekins

Sometimes I leave the spent stems standing through autumn.  The birds like the seeds.

Other times I’ll cut them back to enjoy the tidy grey mound of the plant on it’s own.  That way I also get to set aside some of the seed for myself; to sow in the spring wherever I want it to grow.

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, seed in a paper bag
photo by SVSeekins

Lychnis seed is very simple to collect.

  • Turn the finished flower stem upside down into a paper bag.
  • If the seed is ready, it’ll spill right into the bag.
  • If the stems are still green, put the bag  away, out of the elements, so the seed can continue to mature.
  • Once it’s all really dry, while still inside the bag, shake the stems well.
  • Ta-da!  Seed collected.
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A Place for Crocosmia

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Many members of the garden club weren’t surprised that I’d planted Crocosmia.  It’s a pretty, summer flowering corm that hummingbirds flock to.

But those same folks seem absolutely aghast that I’d planted so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It all started with an empty garden, and a ‘free‘ load of soil.

We built large berms & planted shrubs in hopes of one day having lush borders.  Before much else even had a chance to grow, Crocosmia was popping up everywhere.

crocosmia Lucifer garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What a delight!  The novice gardener in me was thrilled with the free plants.  I recognized the strappy leaves, and the cascading flowers from other gardens.  I admired them.

I thought the plants were wonderfully tenacious to recover from being buried 2-3 feet down.  They valiantly sent sprouts up toward the light, then as they grew leaves, they developed a new corm just under the soil.   Clever, eh?

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I was told that Crocosmia was a ‘persistent’ grower, but I figured I could handle it.  For several years the waves of Crocosmia  crowded out weeds & gave me time to concentrate on other parts of the yard.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’m still pleased with growing so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It’s disappointing that deer eat the blooms, but a good deer repellent takes care of that.
  • It’s disappointing that Crocosmia isn’t as drought tolerant as hoped, but I’ve found that Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) replaces it well (after strenuous digging &  meticulous removal).

Although I’ve swapped out some patches, many remain.  I like that their leaves start to show in March… and hold out through  most of December

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’ve even welcomed another variety into the yard.

Crocosmia Lucifer is an architectural statement.  It’s easy to see how the flaming red flowers inspired the dramatic name.

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The smaller, old fashioned Crocosmia, aka Montbretia, might not be as popular as it was a few decades ago, but I’d bet most members of the garden club keep a place for ‘Lucifer”.

It’s unlikely there’s room for more than a patch or two of these beasts in our yard.  Even one patch makes an impact.  I reckon it won’t be swapped out for anything else any time soon.

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Red Hot Pokers – Kniphofia

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Red Hot Pokers are goofy plants.

Folks either love ’em or hate ‘en.

Me?
I love ’em.

Here’s why:

  •  The ‘red hot’ blooms remind me of Halloween candy corn from when I was a kid.

    gravel screenings on our garden path, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Kniphofia grow happily on our rocky outcrop in very little soil…
    with very little moisture…
    So they’re super drought tolerant AND low maintenance, too.  Win, win!
  • They’ve transplanted easily into partial-shade borders.  I like plants that are easy to grow.

    red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Hummingbirds & bees LOVE LOVE LOVE the blooms.
  • The deer – – not so much.  Our local deer just ignore the Kniphofia     🙂
  • Red Hot Pokers, aka Torch Lilies, are  pretty much evergreen in Victoria – –  unless it snows.
    In which case they immediately turn to slime…
    Then come up fresh & green again when the weather calms down.  That works just fine for me.

    red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

The Red Hots I’m most familiar with  – – those with the graduated red + orange + yellow on one poker – –   bloom in our garden in May.

Last July I saw some blooming in  the Government House Gardens.  I immediately searched out a few summer bloomers for our place.

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

These varieties, likely Knifophia uvaria ‘echo mango’ and ‘echo rojo’ are  dwarf and have much narrower leaves. They’re designed to re-bloom throughout the growing season.

They also stayed green through the winter,  although they looked a little more dried & messy compared to the May bloomers.  Happily they bounced back in the spring sunshine.  Now they’re blooming !

The deer have nibbled a couple tender flower spikes, but I’m hoping that’s just curiosity, and they’ll leave the dwarf plants alone from now on.  Finger’s crossed.

red hot pokers, kniphofia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

To my amazement Abkhazi Garden had some Red Hot Pokers blooming near their front gate in December!
Who knew?

Isn’t that a Must Have?

Anyone know where I can source some of those??

lilac, red hot pokers, irs, lupin Lupinus, with the ceanothus just about to come into bloom too, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

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