New at the nursery: Succulents and hanging baskets!

This week, we are venturing into the territory of non-native cultivars, a new endeavour for us. Our nursery techs are propagating succulents and starting the flowers for our hanging baskets. I love the shape and texture of succulents, and the colours and patterns of neatly lined up succulent leaves are almost like artwork.

The hanging baskets are designed by the Job Creation Partnership crew. Each basket has “thrillers, spillers, and fillers” and include some native plant species. They will be ready in the springtime.

Potted plants will be available by Mothers Day. Just stop by our office to check them out.

 

The seeds we sow

I thought I’d give you an idea of the variety and beauty of the native plant seeds that we collect, clean, and sow. All of our seeds are collected in the wild. We monitor over 100 species of native plants throughout the year and document the time that they flower, set seed, and are ready for harvest. We collect the seeds by hand, and clean the sticks, leaves, fuzz, and papery coatings off the seeds by passing them through sieves, using a winnower, or using our vacuum seed separator. Once the seeds are cleaned, they go into mason jars for storage until planting time. The photo above is our seed storage room, showing about one-third of the seeds we have. The seed room is kept cool throughout the year.

Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)

Cow Parsnip Seeds Cow Parsnip

 

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

Indian Hemp Seeds Indian Hemp

 

Lemonweed (Lithospermum luderale)

Lemonweed Seeds Lemonweed

 

Mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii)

Mock Orange Seeds Mock Orange

 

Wolf willow (Elaeagnus commutata)

Wolf Willow Seeds Wolf Willow

Photo credits: Photos of seeds are by me. Cow parsnip plant photo: http://www.survivalschool.us/edible-medicinal-plant-uses/cow-parsnip-heracleum-maximum/. Indian hemp plant photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocynum_cannabinum. Lemonweed plant photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/montanaraven/525217826/. Mock orange plant photo: http://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Flowers/M/MockOrange/MockOrange.htm. Wolf willow plant photo: http://www.sierraclub.bc.ca/education/ecomap/subboreal-interior/2wwillow.

A Wintertime Update

As the year comes to an end, we thought we’d give an update of all the changes that have been happening at our nursery. In 2014 we undertook major renovations, including building a new office and adding a second greenhouse and header house. Our office is a little log building that was built by trainee log builders using local wood. Our JCP landscaping crew has built a patio, a bridge, and some beautiful rock wall gardens around the office, using native plants from our nursery. Our vision is to use the building to showcase our ethnobotanical products, and for visitors to sit down, have a cup of tea and enjoy our mountain surroundings.

We also built a new greenhouse that has all the bells and whistles. The new greenhouse was put up parallel to the original greenhouse, doubling our growing space. The greenhouses are now heated, and the new one has overhead irrigation, bottom heat, and double walls. Right now we’re using the greenhouse for propagating sedges and grasses.

The header house is a lean-to building that connects the two greenhouses. It’s used for seed cleaning and storage, soil mixing, potting, and all the other nursery-related things we do. We heat the greenhouses and header house using a wood boiler.

One more exciting update… we now have a vacuum seed separator! This cool machine separates viable seeds from empty seeds and all the sticks and leaves that get mixed up in them during seed collection. You pour the seeds in one end of the machine, and it separates the viable, clean seeds into one bowl and the chaff into the other.

We wish you all a healthy, happy new year – come in and visit us if you’d like to check out our new digs! For some more photos check out our Facebook page – just search for Splitrock Environmental.

Naturescape Xeriscape Gardening

Naturescape Gardening is all about enhancing wildlife habitat in our homes, while also planting a garden that is low-maintenance, low in water use, and is beautiful all at the same time!

Xeriscape is landscaping using little water and plants that are adapted to drier climates.

Follow these 10 steps to create a successful Naturescape Garden!

  1. Plan and design: Design your garen to include native plants and wildlife structures, such as rock piles, logs and dead-standing trees. Take a look at what you already have and make a map of the area to be converted to a naturescape.
  2. Minimize your lawn: During the planning phase decide to remove some lawn and replace with native plant species that require little maintenance or water.
  3. Remove invasive species: Hand pull weeds from your planting area. Avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  4. Add hard structures such as boulders, rock piles, and wildlife trees. A small pond, as well as bat and bird houses, can also be included.
  5. Improve the soil: Even though native plants are adapted to our hot dry climate, it is a good idea to add organic matter to your soils to give them a fighting chance. Add compost and manure.
  6. Water efficiently: Plan an irrigation system, especially drip or soaker hoses. Water only in the early morning or evenings so that evaporation is not a problem. Avoid wet and windy days.
  7. Select the appropriate plants: Groupe plants according to their ecological and watering needs. Plant a variety of plants to ensure diversity.
  8. Plant your native plants: Dig a hole twice the size, water the hole, plant level with the ground surface and cover with soil. Water occasionally for the first year or until roots are well established, then minimize or stop watering based on plant needs.
  9. Mulch: Mulches reduce evaporation and weed growth, cools the root zone, slows erosion, and gives a finished look to your new garden.
  10. Maintain your garden: No garden is totally maintenance free, so you will still have to weed out exotics as soon as you see them. Prune and deadhead as you go. That should be it!

Restoration of wildlife habitat happens gradually, one yard at a time.