Early fall notes

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sun, 19 Sep 2004 11:17:21 PDT
The fall rains have arrived in the Pacific Northwest a month early this 
year, and neither the vintners nor the hikers are very happy about that. 
Some of the bulbs, however, may enjoy a long frost-free fall season.

A real surprise was the flowering of Urginea undulata, a miniature member 
of this Mediterranean genus (Hyacinthaceae). I bought it as a bulb from 
Monocot Nursery about 4 years ago and have been admiring the foliage ever 
since. It makes flattish rosettes about 4 inches/10 cm across. The leaf 
margins are extremely wavy (undulata) and crimped. I suspected it would 
never flower in this cool climate, but after a hot summer it produced a 
scape about 10 in/25 cm long with numerous tiny white flowers which lasted 
only a couple of days. I didn't get a photo but will try to post a photo of 
the leaves, which are more interesting than the inflorescence.

Another flower I regard as something of a miracle under my conditions is 
Narcissus humilis, a Mediterranean "daffodil" so unusual that it has been 
placed at times in another genus, Tapeinanthus. It has a stem about 5 in/12 
cm tall with a single bright yellow flower that has only a corolla, no 
corona (cup); the leaves emerge later. Both seed-grown and purchased bulbs 
are flowering today, presumably triggered by temperature since one pot is 
in a frame that receives more summer water than the other. In response to 
the rain and cool temperatures, all the frames have now been given their 
first fall watering, which I usually would not do until about Oct. 10.

Two seed-grown pots of Sternbergia colchiciflora are in flower, one from 
the Archibalds' seeds and another from NARGS exchange seed collected near 
Isparta, Turkey. This is the smallest Sternbergia. The light to bright 
yellow flowers don't open very widely and are only about an inch (2.5 cm) 
long, appearing before the leaves. The Isparta plants took 7 years from 
sowing to flowering.

Monocot seeds has been a source of some interesting Near Eastern plants. 
Seeds received as Colchicum hierosolymitanum ('of Jerusalem') produced 5 
bulbs that flowered this month for the first time. I'm not sure the name is 
right, since I looked up this species on the Internet and came across a 
photo showing flowers that seemed not to be tessellated (checkered), 
whereas my flowers are faintly tessellated. It's a small species. How I 
wish for a good comprehensive reference on this genus! I have good photos 
but hesitate to post them on the wiki without being able to verify the name.

On a more mundane level, Cyclamen graecum is producing its thick-textured 
pink flowers (I need a white form!), and C. intaminatum its small but 
pretty ones. C. africanum and C. rohlfsianum, which have to be kept in the 
conservatory, are also in flower. This year I planted a number of C. 
graecum outdoors to see if they will tolerate our winters.

All the bulbs are in the ground or frames or pots now, except for a basket 
of Nectaroscordum siculum bulbs that glare at me whenever I walk by. I 
can't decide if it's worth the trouble putting them in the ground, but 
they'd be a good inedible addition to the Vole Bed. I was delighted that my 
sole bulb of the expensive N. tripedale (much prettier with its soft pink 
flowers) produced seeds this summer.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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