Paul Cumbleton
Fri, 07 Oct 2005 13:47:38 PDT
Dear Mary and all,
First an introduction to myself. My name is Paul Cumbleton and I live in
Berkshire, U.K. which is roughly Zone 8. I only recently discovered the
Pacific Bulb Society on the web and am very impressed with the amount of
really excellent information and help available. I have the good fortune of
working for the Royal Horticultural Society at the famous Wisley Garden in
Surrey, U.K. I have worked here for 3 years and I am the Senior Supervisor
for the Rock Garden and alpine display houses. We grow a very large range of
bulbs both in pots and out on the rock garden. I guess there must be around
3000 pots of bulbs, with particulalry strong showings of Narcissus, Crocus,
Fritillaria and Galanthus but also a good selection of Oxalis, many of the
"blue bulbs" such as Scillas etc, Ornithogalum and other things such as
Cyclamen and Corydalis to mention just a few. Two of the collections -
Crocus and Galanthus- are National Collections under the NCCPG scheme. We
also have a collection of various near-hardy bulbs, particularly from the
South African flora.

I also grow bulbs in pots under glass at home, particularly the winter
growing South African types, as well as Fritillaria, Calochortus and others.
My other special interest is those most attractive little orchids, the
Pleiones and for those who would like to know more about those you may like
to visit my website at

Anyway, introductions over, I was looking at your Massonia pics and I think
you are likely to be correct in thinking that the 'mystery' one is M.
echinata. It looks identical to plants I have which are labelled echinata
and which originated from seed from Gordon Summerfield. However, it is
impossible to be certain from photos - examining and measuring the structure
of the flowers is the only way to be sure, and as you have noted this is not
easy on such small flowers! I mentioned your query to Terry Smale, a well
known authority here on South African bulbs. He says he has a key to
Massonia, so if you want to go down the route of keying out I could ask him
for a copy to send to you.

Co-incidentally, about a month ago I tipped out a pot of seedlings labelled
Massonia pustulata which had been sown by one of my colleagues a year or two
ago. On the back of the label it said "from Mary Sue Ittner"! Now I know who
this refers to! In the light of your posting, it will be interesting to see
what these turn out to be once they get to flowering size.

Paul Cumbleton
Berkshire, U.K.
Zone 8 (becoming 9 with climate change!)

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