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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #281 - Visiting TPIE is a warm and sunny educational experience
January 23, 2017

That’s the main vista from the visitor centre at the Montgomery Botanical Center. I went traveling last week and visited this amazing place as well as several others. I have always had an affection for Palms and the Montgomery does almost all of its extensive research on Palms and Cycads. They have an extensive collection of Palms and we were fortunate to be toured by the center’s director Patrick Griffith. That’s one of the advantages to being a member of GWA The Association for Garden Communicators. They held their winter board meeting in Ft. Lauderdale Florida and I was “forced” to travel there to attend. The meetings were timed to coincide with TPIE, Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition, and I’ll show you some more from there later. It’s always fun to see what’s new and exciting in every aspect of the horticultural industry even if it means several hours of walking a trade floor show. I had to miss a few ski days back home but the 30 C temperature and brilliant sunshine almost compensated. The Assistant Gardener was happily at home tending to the thousands of Begonia seeds I had sown before leaving. She obviously did a fine job as those seedling trays now have a covering of tiny green leaves. I’m always fascinated at how rapidly those very tiny seeds germinate.

If you have a spare space in one of your walls and are looking to brighten up that room, may I suggest a collection of Vanda Orchids. Admittedly they are a bit messy to irrigate and may be best used in an outdoor setting but they are stunning. They have only aerial roots so they must be misted once or twice a week. This was just part of the display of Silver Vase Orchids and the rest was equally brilliant. They have been breeding Vanda Orchids to make them more suitable as house plants and they market them in a few ways that are much more amenable to the average household than these spectacular walls. They are regular rebloomers that will keep those gorgeous colours in your home for several months. Some of the new Bromeliads found in this show were also wonderful and it would be nice if I could put 20 pictures in this issue of Dallying but there will be more to come in later issues.

We all have a little down time over the holidays and I chose to spend mine doing some plastic gardening. I have been increasing my use of sub irrigation containers such as the Earth Box over the years. They grow great vegetables, are easy to water and have NO WEEDS. I have tried making my own with some success. There is nothing wrong the actual Earth Box product except for its cost to bring them to Canada. I’ve been building 5 more over the holidays, they are almost finished and I think they are going to be quite successful. Their bright teal colour is not their best feature but that’s the only colour I could find in a tote that met my specifications. Size, shape, type of lid and a few minor items need to be right in order to turn one of these into a good sub irrigation container. I go to bed happy after a day of building these as I think of even fewer weeds next summer.

I spent many years in the interior landscaping industry and naturally developed some favourite plants. Dracaena marginata was one of them. A tough plant that tolerated relatively low light and had an interesting red margin on its leaves. Hence the name. At the big show last week we found a new variety of it with a bright cream/yellow stripe down the centre of the leaves called Ray of Sunshine. It was really quite striking and will slowly be coming onto the market. The grower Jungle Nursery that was showing it was one of a very few that had any stock of it and he was propagating it as quickly as he could. It did occasionally throw a branch that reverted back to the original plant but that could easily be pruned out. It probably doesn’t keep the yellow colour as intense, if it is grown in the lower light conditions that the original will tolerate but it is still a very striking specimen. It’s always fun to find an old friend that actually has a new and improved variety.

An appreciative thanks to all of my readers who wrote with good wishes for the holidays. Please send me any questions that you may have. I find the gardening ones easier to answer :-) Don’t forget to check out the website gardening-enjoyed to keep abreast of other things and thoughts from the garden. It currently shows a visit to an Orchid Nursery in S. Florida. It also lists all of the presentations and seminars that I do along with a list of where and when I am speaking. Come out to one of these garden clubs and meet me and some other happy gardeners.

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