bulbs in lawns; was: Re: [pbs] Lycoris passeth, Cochicum cometh, the seasons march along

Shirley Meneice samclan@redshift.com
Wed, 01 Sep 2004 22:16:31 PDT
Amen!  And I have only gone for Sisyrinchiums, S. californicum, S. 
angustifolium, S. bellum and S. striatum..  I had already obliterated 
most of the lawn with raised planter beds but these little bulbs with 
their grassy foliage seemed a perfect addition.  The foliage may be 
described as grass-like, but they really mean crab-grass-like.  Now if 
they would just learn to bloom at the perfect time!  They bloom in late 
August for me -- if no one mows after July 15 or so.  At least they 
don't demand a lot of water -- a commodity which is in short supply 
around here.
    Shirley Meneice, Pebble Beach where you can buy an acre foot of 
water for your garden for only $200,000.

Jim McKenney wrote:

>Jim Shields has opened a topic on which I would like to expand. Who else
>grows bulbs in the lawn? I do, but I'm not sure I would recommend it to
>anyone who is sensitive to criticism from the neighbors. 
>Here in Maryland it was a particular temptation because we have a zoysia
>lawn. For those of you who don't know it, zoysia (the genus Zoysia has
>several members but only one is important in this area) is what is
>sometimes called a warm-weather grass. It's green and growing roughly
>between May and September. From October through April it's brown (light tan
>actually). In other words, the growth cycle of the zoysia lawn compliments
>that of vernal bulbs and fall crocus perfectly.
>That big expanse of zoysia was so tempting that I jumped in very
>enthusiastically and planted Chionodoxa, Galanthus elwesii and Crocus
>speciosus by the thousand. 
>It's hardly been trouble free. The squirrels ate about 2/3 of the crocus
>during the first few weeks. They don't seem to have touched them since
>(several years). The local squirrels rarely touch established Crocus
>speciosus, but newly planted corms are another matter. 
>Going into this, I thought the long fall-winter dormancy of the zoysia
>would make this planting of bulbs in grass a carefree delight. I would mow
>the zoysia routinely until early September; then allow the autumn crocus to
>bloom; then give the zoysia a last hard mowing around Thanksgiving to keep
>it tidy looking during the winter. (I've noticed that that word 'tidy' is
>often associated in some way or another with various horticultural
>lamentations). The snowdrops and  glories of the snow would bloom and ripen
>before the zoysia became active. Once seed was collected and they were out
>of the way, regular mowing would be resumed sometime in May. 
>It looked great on paper. 
>I had not taken into account the profusion of lusty winter-growing weeds.
>Now I understand so well the meaning of the word opportunistic. Where in
>the world did all those weedy Cardamine, Stellaria, Draba, Ranunculus,
>Erigeron, Allium and others suddenly come from? Our soil bank must be the
>Fort Knox of soil banks. 
>In over forty years of mowing that zoysia lawn, I never noticed these gate
>crashers in such profusion. Had they been lurking all that time? Zoysia
>lawns take a long time to become established; typically, some clumps of
>other lawn grasses remain here and there until they give up. Because of the
>presence of those cool season grasses, the zoysia lawn was mowed
>occasionally in the off season. That evidently was enough to obscure the
>presence of the weed hoards. Zoysia forms such a thick turf that it
>competes successfully with almost anything else as long as it gets plenty
>of sun. It will get by on infrequent mowing, although to keep the
>putting-green look regular mowing is essential. 
>In other words, if you are sitting around thinking how charming the lawn
>would look spangled with crocus or snowdrops, get a grip: it's an
>invitation to a real mess. Neighbors you barely know will stop by to ask
>when you will be baling the hay. Or to offer the use of their lawn mower.
>Or to recommend their lawn service. Or to ask if that might have been a rat
>they saw scurrying into the thickets. Or, if you live in that sort of
>neighborhood, to ask if you are trying to establish a meadow (or to get rid
>of an existing one). 
>By the way, a lawn spangled with crocus looks a lot like a lawn spangled
>with fast food debris and gum and candy wrappers.     
>Jim McKenney
>Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where each year during
>crocus season the Sugar Plum Fairy dumps her rejects and production
>over-run all over our front lawn. 
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