Monthly Archives: January 2014

Featured Plant: Jewel Orchid

Ludisia discolorLudisia discolor, the Jewel Orchid, is an orchid native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Burma. They are often cultivated for the beautiful, velvety-looking foliage (which doesn’t actually feel velvety at all). Ludisia discolor is a terrestrial orchid, which roots in soil. In it’s native habitat, it is found on the floor of the forest. They prefer high humidity and temperatures above 60F, but tolerate very low light. This makes them relatively easy to grow at home, or in a shady spot in the greenhouse. In addition to the deep maroon-green (is that a word?) leaves with pinkish veins, they have beautiful, delicate white flowers, and I was pleasantly surprised to see last week that they were beginning to flower.

To propagate Jewel Orchids, the fleshy stems can be nestled horizontally into the potting mix (well drained, please). They will also root in a glass of water. These little plants were repotted by Rachel back in June of 2012. They had been sulking for quite a while — I think the potting soil was not to their liking — and finally began to grow nicely after that.

ludisia discolorludisia discolorludisia discolorludisia discolorLudisia discolorludisia discolor

Catalog Season

Earlier this week Andy handed me a new seed catalog. I hadn’t gotten any in the mail yet and so I hadn’t started that delicious daydreaming about springtime, gardening, warm weather, and especially, seeds. So let the daydreaming begin, that’s what January is for if you’re a gardener. I adore seed catalogs; there is something so old fashioned about them. Pictures of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, with over-the top-descriptions of how tasty, productive and gorgeous they are! The earliest, sweetest peas,  the best tomatoes you ever had,  giant pumpkins. The biggest zinnias, the tallest sunflowers, and the most fragrant sweet basil! Not to mention that seeds are one of the best investments you can make. I’m a sucker for all of it, and being a little old-fashioned myself, I like the actual paper catalog in my hand, by the woodstove, with a cup of coffee.

seedcatalog_300Last fall I emptied my two giant cookie tins full of seeds and sorted them with a critical eye. I composted any which were more than three years old, and I was surprised at how many that was.  Time to buy some new seeds. I’m looking at old favorites like Benary Giant Zinnias and Northeaster Pole Beans. I’ve only gone through the Johnny’s and High Mowing catalogs…impatiently awaiting Fedco (top favorite), and Territorial (they are selling wasabi plants!) and Cook’s Garden, and Nichols….  I found many enticing new-to-me varieties: Esterina cherry tomato, (“sweeter than Sungold and resists cracking”!) Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Calypso Pickling Cucumber. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower: stunning! Or how about Painted Lady Sweet Peas ( “This variety dates to 1737 and was planted by Jefferson at Monticello in the early 1800s.”). I have never had much luck with Sweet Peas –it gets too hot early on here –but I ‘m convinced I should try again…

As I said in this post, every year I plant seeds and every year I am thrilled and amazed when  the seedlings push up through the soil. What are you daydreaming about this January?

seed-catalogs-300A