Off the beaten track

Ven­ture out­side the Perime­ter for green­house treats

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - RESALE HOMES - By Colleen Zacharias

MANY of us have a fairly good idea as to what we are look­ing for when we head out to our lo­cal green­house. Once there, though, the dizzy­ing ar­ray of plants has us imagining all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties for con­tainer ar­range­ments and flower bed plant­ings.

Gar­den­ers can be very com­pet­i­tive and some of the more un­com­mon of­fer­ings dis­ap­pear fairly quickly, which only in­creases our de­ter­mi­na­tion to find them. That can lead us to ven­ture out to green­houses that are off the beaten track in search of a par­tic­u­lar plant or sim­ply be­cause it’s fun — we never know what we may find.

I set out on the open road re­cently to visit sev­eral green­houses with the seats in my car folded down to make room for the many must-have plants I hoped to find — in par­tic­u­lar, the new Chinese Dwarf Ba­nana that only grows to 24 to 36 inches.

My first stop was at C & S Coun­try Gar­dens in Lorette. Owned and op­er­ated by Chris Max­e­muck and his mother, Sue, this small fam­ily op­er­a­tion of­fers a va­ri­ety of tried and true peren­ni­als and an­nu­als.

I was de­lighted to find a quan­tity of Salvia x mi­cro­phylla ‘Hot Lips’, a lesser-known, lightly fra­grant an­nual that is some­times con­fused with Bleed­ing Heart. It fea­tures bi-colour flow­ers that are white with red lips. Sun-lov­ing, drought-tol­er­ant and at­trac­tive to hum­ming­birds, this semi-woody plant grows to 2½ feet by 2½ feet and makes a colour­ful, long-last­ing state­ment in flower beds.

My next stop was at the Oakridge Gar­den Cen­tre in Stein­bach, sit­u­ated on eight acres. Fea­tur­ing 42,000 square feet of green­house space in­clud­ing a gar­den store and café, it joins a grow­ing list of gar­den cen­tres that are be­com­ing leisure des­ti­na­tions: Shop for plants, then browse through the gift store fol­lowed by a visit to the café for a lim­ited se­lec­tion of soup, sand­wiches and desserts.

Owner Erna Wiebe is fea­tur­ing a num­ber of new plants this year, in­clud­ing Hy­drangea anomala ssp. Peti­o­laris ‘Climb­ing Hy­drangea,’ a shade-tol­er­ant vine that pro­duces a ‘lace-cap’ flat­topped white flower head. The tag says it re­quires no sup­port! Pro­vide moist well-drained soil with plenty of hu­mus. Rated as a Zone 4, it will re­quire win­ter pro­tec­tion if it is to sur­vive a harsh Man­i­toba win­ter.

An­other plant that caught my eye is Echium amoenum ‘Red Feath­ers.’ Re­cently in­tro­duced from the Cau­ca­sus, it has a strong re­sem­blance to li­a­tris but pro­duces feath­ery, rus­se­tred flow­ers in spring. Dead­head for re­bloom­ing in sum­mer and fall. I will try one in my gar­den this year but won­der if it will be prone to flop­ping over — it may re­quire stak­ing.

Some­times be­ing in a green­house is akin to vis­it­ing an art gallery: a dis­play of Aqui­le­gia ‘Song­bird Car­di­nal’ took my breath away.

On to the Grow­ing Plea­sures Green­house, which is lo­cated in the RM of Spring­field, an­other ‘des­ti­na­tion’ green­house thanks in part to the pic­turesque back­drop of Piner­idge Hol­low.

Like Erna Wiebe at Oakridge, Joanne Jones, owner, also of­fers con­tainer plant­ings in moss-lined wire bas­kets. The moss is hand-picked in the wild in ei­ther the fall or the spring. Gen­er­ally it comes off in sheets and is then stored in lay­ers on crates, which af­ford plenty of air cir­cu­la­tion. When ready for use, the moss is first soaked in wa­ter. Ex­cess mois­ture is squeezed out be­fore lin­ing the bas­ket, a plas­tic liner is in­serted, soil added and then a mix of trail­ers and an­nu­als com­plete the dis­play.

This year, Joanne has cre­ated a lim­ited num­ber of top­i­ary-style side­planted bas­ket col­umns made pop­u­lar by gar­den de­signer and au­thor, Pamela Craw­ford. The gi­ant flower ball be­gins with a bas­ket that has holes on the sides. The cen­tre of the bas­ket is filled with soil, and flow­ers are planted on the top and on the sides. A col­umn holds the bas­ket in the gar­den for a unique top­i­ary ef­fect.

Lower Fort Garry Nurs­eries, lo­cated in Lock­port, of­fers a va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences in­clud­ing a tea room, ice cream, gift shop, green­house and out­door gar­dens. Owner El­iz­a­beth Swirsky showed me a fas­ci­nat­ing six-in-one ap­ple tree called a Com­bi­na­tion Ap­ple. Five dif­fer­ent hardy va­ri­eties are grafted onto a sin­gle root­stock, which means an­other tree is not re­quired as a pol­l­enizer, mak­ing it a great choice for a small yard.

Soon I ar­rived in Stonewall, ask­ing for di­rec­tions to Jasper­son’s Green­house. This is a large fam­ily-owned op­er­a­tion on 80 acres with a coun­try at­mos­phere. Owner Bruce Jasper­son de­scribes it as a ‘farm ex­pe­ri­ence’ for vis­i­tors. Trees and shrubs for sale are lined in rows with huge, ma­jes­tic oak trees tow­er­ing over them.

Jasper­son’s also of­fers a farmer’s mar­ket that starts in Au­gust fea­tur­ing corn that is grown on five acres as well as car­rots, peas, zuc­chini, cu­cum­bers and pump­kins.

A much smaller gar­den cen­tre, Kanahda, lo­cated on Main Street in Win­nipeg, of­fered many in­trigu­ing plant se­lec­tions in­clud­ing SunPa­tiens Spread­ing Salmon Var­ie­gated Im­pa­tiens de­scribed as a com­pletely new type of Im­pa­tiens for hot, sunny lo­ca­tions.

I also dropped by Noll’s Green­house on Roblin Boule­vard where I was in­tro­duced to Cramer’s Ama­zon Celosia, a hard-to-find celosia with bur­gundy­green leaves that grows to at least 1.5 feet.

Still hunt­ing for the Dwarf Ba­nana, I headed to Jensen’s Nurs­ery on McGillivray. Al­though they, too, were sold out, I came away with a lovely new Rex Be­go­nia Vine fea­tur­ing elon­gated, vel­vety heart-shaped leaves with sil­ver mark­ings.

En­joy all of your ex­cur­sions and be sure to ask if your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the closed-loop re­cy­cling pro­gram. If so, re­turn your con­tain­ers for re­cy­cling!

SunPa­tiens Spread­ing Salmon Var­ie­gated Im­pa­tiens. A dy­namic new Im­pa­tiens that

prom­ises to thrive in sunny con­di­tions.

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