Hypogeal lilies and Jim McKenney introduces himself

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Thu, 15 Jan 2004 15:43:51 PST
First, let me respond to Malcolm Redwood's query about the germination of
Lilium bulbiferum and L. columbianum. Yes, both of these are hypogeal.
Lilium columbianum seems to germinate best at low temperatures (c. 40-50
degrees F - higher temperatures will inhibit germination).

Now let me introduce myself. I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the
suburbs just outside of and north of Washington, D.C. The house is on the
typical (at the time the house was built) quarter acre suburban lot, and so
the garden is not a big one. But I have managed to get a lot of gardening
out of this space, and during the forty years I've lived here much of it
has been focused on geophytes. There are coldframes full of germinating
seed and library shelves sagging from the weight of books. There is a nice
view of the garden from the fireplace room, a view which takes in a now
fine copper beech I planted as a teenager. Big oaks, boxwood, camellias
home-grown from seed, a pergola with climbing roses, a pool rimmed with
pitcher plants and Japanese iris and Lilium superbum, lots of herbaceous
and tree peonies, witch hazels, a big Franklinia, asarums, lilies,
hellebores raised from seed thirty-five years ago, several seemingly hardy
palms which have managed to shiver through many winters right next to the
house wall, the usual tangle of this and that. It's a nice little garden.  
My garden diaries now run to over five thousand manuscript pages, and the
seed index I've maintained since February 1972 coincidentally has over five
thousand entries. 

The garden is a sort of wildlife sanctuary, and because it is located along
Rock Creek (a big, multi-jurisdictional park which extends right into the
heart of Washington, D.C.) there are lots of visitors. Hawks, owls,
vultures, all the local woodpeckers but one, songbirds in gratifying
variety, a bald eagle (seen once only far above the garden; they're not
uncommon down along the Potomac), kingfishers, herons, wood ducks and
others have all made an appearance in or above the garden. The usual urban
mammals are here in numbers ( foxes, raccoons, opossums, and a bewildering
variety of "geophytophagous" sorts ranging from deer to tiny voles). Five
(and a probable sixth) species of snake are either resident or pass through
occasionally. A garden without snakes isn't much of a garden in my view.
Twenty to thirty toads are usual during the peak spring choruses on the
garden pond. 

About forty years ago I planted a "Cape bulb border" against the warm side
of the house. This included such things as Crinum, Crocosmia, Amaryllis
belladonna, Gladiolus, Galtonia, Eucomis and others. After all these years,
one of the Crinum is still out there. 

Periodically I binge on Crocus and Tulipa. Don't hold me to this number,
but as I recall about 85 nominally different Crocus have come and gone here
over the years. I guess that makes me a bit of a croconut. 

This spring will be my sixtieth spring, and I've packed the garden with
bulbs to celebrate. 

I'm looking forward to picking the brains of other members on various
issues. For instance, Colchicum seem to be very badly mixed up in commerce,
and I'm curious about what other members have to say about this and similar
issues. Colchicum variegatum flowered here recently, and I'm very happy
about that.

A lifetime of gardening has not taught me enough: I still know how to kill

More information about the pbs mailing list