Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 07 Apr 2004 08:06:56 PDT
Dear All,

I really love blue flowers so am always looking for plants that have them. 
I only grow three Bellevalias. The first one I ever got was B. romana. I 
got seed from my friend Will Ashburner who called it "a good doer". He 
later forgot he told me that and questioned why I had wanted it. When I 
reminded him, he agreed that it was true. The flowers are white, becoming 
brown as they age and it is really easy to grow, but not very spectacular. 
We took a picture of it last year, but didn't get a very good one and I 
didn't realize I needed to get a better one this year for the wiki and now 
it is mostly past it. I sowed two, actually 3 batches of seed in the fall 
and it germinated in 1 to 2 months. Seed sowed September, October 1999 
bloomed in spring of 2003.
I had three batches of seed because one was seed exchange seed that was 
supposed to be something else.

I started seed Jack Elliott gave me of B. dubia the fall of 2000 and it 
came up that winter and bloomed last spring for the first time too. It is 
quite unique with the pretty blue buds and brown flowers.

That same year I got seed of what was supposed to be B. forniculata. I say 
supposed to be because it was seed from the Scottish Rock Garden. I was 
only a member briefly of that group. It delivers seed very quickly and 
efficiently, but a large percentage of what I got was misnamed when it 
finally bloomed so it would need to be verified. My sample was small so it 
is not a fair indictment, but just made me careful to check out each plant. 
This one hasn't bloomed yet so I'm not sure what it is. That seed I sowed 
in fall didn't come up until spring. It has not done as well as the others.

I really wanted it after Jack Elliott wrote the following to the old IBS 
forum about Bellevalia:

"They are very little grown here, probably because many of them have rather 
unattractive straw-coloured to brownish flowers in a looser spike than 
muscaris, but there are exceptions.
B. dubia is about the only one I have now, the lower flowers of the very 
loose spike being the typical colour but the upper flowers brilliant blue, 
very worth-while.  B. forniculata is amazing.  We saw it in Turkey in very 
wet meadows, which looked vivid sky blue from a mile away from millions of 
the bellevalias.  The meadows would have dried out later and I should say
they all have a hot dry summer and a very cold winter under snow. The other 
popular ones are B. pycnantha and B. forniculata, closely allied or the 
same, with much denser spikes of extremely dark navy blue flowers. They 
really only differ from muscaris in having the 'mouths' of the bells open 
rather than incurved."

Having just read that again, I suspect that the second mention of B. 
forniculata probably should have been a different species, probably B. 
pycnantha. Perhaps my possible B. forniculata needs colder winters than I 
can provide. The other two are just fine in my Mediterranean climate. I try 
to remember to give them occasional water in summer, but haven't always 
been good about that either. B. dubia bloomed this year when we were having 
an unusual heat spring heat spell and didn't last nearly as long as last 
year. It has bloomed in February and March so can be appreciated when it 
has less competition.

Any one else grow this genus and willing to share your experiences?

Mary Sue

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