29 Jan Unusual Perennials with Phoenix Perennials
Gary Lewis, from Phoenix Perennials, will be teaching at the Show this year. I look forward learning more from him there. He specializes in unusual plants. You know-those ones that make people stop in your garden and say “What is that? Wow!”
Flora-Tell us about the seminar(s) you are teaching at the NW Flower and Garden Show?
Gary-I’m teaching two seminars at this year’s NW Flower and Garden Show. “Avoiding the Summer Doldrums” is a response to one of my first gardening lessons which was to plan for that most critical of seasonal transitions of colour and interest in the garden from spring to summer. So many of us succumb to the colour and temptation of spring shopping and planting, often achieving wonderful spring gardens that soon fade with summer.
This talk is an antidote to the onset of the “summer doldrums” and is filled with tonnes of month my month suggestions from my nursery, Phoenix Perennials, for summer and early fall planting. The other talk, “Weird and Wonderful Plants of the World“, is about my love for the “botanically intriguing” and highlights a different segment of plants that we grow at the nursery. In this talk we travel first through time and the evolution of plants and then around the world, continent by continent, to discover cool, rare, recently discovered, and underused plants for our gardens.
Flora-How do you choose the “distinct perennials” for your nursery?
Gary-I am an avid gardener and plant collector. Over the years I’ve gotten to know the plants commonly available at nurseries on the West Coast. While we do carry lots of these “garden stalwarts” I am constantly searching the world – both in travels, on the internet, and through nursery connections – for new sources of cutting edge and intriguing plants. We import plants and seeds from places like India, Japan, South Africa, Europe, Chile, the US and Canada in order to offer an unparalleled selection of plants. We are also beginning to grow seed collected on some of my travels.
Our customers marvel at all the plants they see at our nursery that they have never seen before. Other nurseries in Metro Vancouver often send their customers to us saying that “if anyone has that plant it will be Phoenix Perennials.” Deciding what is distinct is knowing what is already out there and being driven enough to search for something more.
Gary-If you mean Campanula Elizabeth Oliver, it is a creeping bellflower with cute blue double flowers. It is one we have grown off and on over the years. A great “doer” amongst the campanulas though would be C. posharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’. It was introduced a few years back and is great for masses of blue on half mounding half trailing plants over a long season.
Flora-Do you take orders online or over the phone?
Gary-We currently only sell plants from our nursery location in Richmond, BC, part of Metro Vancouver and only a few miles from Vancouver Internation Airport. However, we can arrange phytosanitary certificates for our American visitors so they can take plants home. Arrangements and logistics must be planned ahead of time. There is information on Phoenix Perennials about this process. We have a growing customer base throughout Western Canada as well as from the Washington State towns near the border who include Phoenix Perennials as part of their business or personal trips to the Vancouver area.