Memory Bulbs--TOW

Jane McGary
Sun, 27 Jul 2003 14:41:16 PDT
<x-flowed> From time to time I write memorial notes on members of the NARGS who have 
died, leaving not only good memories among their friends but also the 
plants they have generously shared. Bulbs are prominent among these for me.

I was inspired to grow bulbs from seed in the late 1980s by the late Molly 
Grothaus, who brought to a NARGS chapter meeting a spectacular pot of 
Fritillaria raddeana which she had grown from seed. Later in the summer 
Molly gave me seeds from those plants, which I grew. I still have the 
original seedlings, now very large bulbs, and have raised several 
generations from them, even though my plants set little seed (Molly grew 
hers in an alpine house, where they were warmer and set seed more readily). 
She also gave me a start of Colchicum kesselringii that I still have.

Floyd McMullen is known widely for his discovery of Erythronium elegans and 
for an excellent dwarf form of Penstemon davidsonii that bears his name. At 
one NARGS meeting where we had a fund-raising auction, he brought in a 
2-gallon pot of Cyclamen hederifolium from his garden, where for decades he 
had selected and grown on unusual leaf forms of this popular species. I 
bought it for about $10, and when I turned it out there must have been 40 
corms in it of all sizes. These were the origin of the many plants I now 
have in the garden -- one of the most permanent and useful "bulbs" for this 
climate. Many of them have long, narrow leaves.

Like Diana, I enjoy growing bulbs that remind me of places I have traveled. 
Sometimes these are simple, common plants but memory enhances them. There 
is a wonderful population of Alstroemeria aurea on the open hillsides above 
the Termas de Chillan in the central Chilean Andes, displaying a fine range 
of rich colors. I did not get seed from it on either visit I made there, 
but the Archibalds came a month later and collected seed and offered it. 
The resulting plants are infesting one end of a bulb frame in a furious 
manner, but I have managed to move most of them out into the garden on a 
warm slope, where they flower nicely and entertain the hummingbirds.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

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