What Else is Blooming....

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Fri, 05 May 2006 07:31:10 PDT
Hi all,

Here in Northern California it finally stopped raining. It's looking like 
this may be it until next fall. When I am out hiking or even driving there 
are so many hillsides  that are naked from the slides and you pass sections 
of the road where there was room for the highway department to deposit all 
the soil that came down onto the road that are piled high with dirt. After 
some much welcome sunshine we are now into our coastal pattern of morning 
fog. I was amused to see the weather channel on television describe San 
Francisco as one of the sunniest cities in the United States. I would have 
loved to know how they measured this. Perhaps it was days with sunshine? So 
if even a few minutes in a day the sun is out, it counts?

A lot of my bulbs from South Africa did not appreciate the excessive 
continuous rain we had this year, but now that it has stopped my garden is 
a blaze of color as those late blooming species are putting on a show and 
my native bulbs are starting. This is the time of year that I have masses 
of Homerias, Ixias, Babianas, and also some Tritonias in bloom. I keep 
digging out Babianas to share and you can't tell it from looking at any of 
those spots where there are hundreds of flowers and solid color. A couple 
of years ago I dug Babianas and cleaned them off and sent them to the BX. 
They were not all claimed and Dell had them left over for the sale. I'm not 
sure why they were so unpopular, but it makes me reluctant to sort any I 
divide again since it was so much work. I guess they just don't grow for 
many of you in different climates. Some of the later blooming 
species/hybrids do so well in the ground here. I have some that are planted 
next to Camissonia ovata (which I have been tempted to add to a wiki page 
since it behaves like a geophyte dying back in our dry summer). It is a 
short plant with bright yellow flowers so looks really pretty with the 
purple Babianas. Moraea bellendenii must have liked all that rain because 
it is blooming everywhere this year. Some years I hardly see it. And even 
Scilla peruviana (Oncostema peruviana) has been blooming. It often skips a 
year or two here too even with a dry period in summer. I have some orange 
Homerias growing alongside a Felicia  that I grew from seed and the orange 
and purple combination is also very pleasing. My Iris douglasiana is 
blooming all over my garden and some of the Pacific Coast hybrids are 
blooming too and some Sparaxis. Where all these things come together in one 
spot it is quite inspiring even if a bit wild. I tried for a couple of 
years to dig out all the Sparaxis I could find after learning some of them 
were virused, but it seems like a lost cause as they keep coming back.  I 
have some amazing colorful hybrids. And there are a few of the late 
blooming Lachenalias that have pretty flowers although their leaves are a 
bit weather stressed. Some of the later Gladiolus species are spiking and 
Watsonias are blooming too. I have some planted next to one of my South 
African Ericas that is blooming at the moment and the combination is very 
appealing. Jane's Anemone palmata is still blooming. What a treasure. My 
Delphiniums have been blooming for months. I have found a number that 
return planted in the ground, but some only survive in containers. The 
snails, slugs, and birds decimate some of the species, but other species 
survive. So far D. nudicaule, D. luteum, D. hesperium, D. hansenii, and D. 
patens are returning in the ground.

I put a large pot of Erythronium californicum in another pot in the ground 
and it has been gorgeous this year. The wild populations were a site to 

My Calochortus are looking a bit sad although the C. uniflorus have had a 
good run and finally starting  late C. umbellatus as well. I have spikes on 
some of the Mariposas, but they definitely did not respond well to months 
of almost daily rain. I think I should just give up on most of those 
species from dry climates. On the other hand my Dichelostemma capitatum is 
much better than usual and D. multiflorum is just starting and D. ida-maia 
has a lot of buds. D. volubile that I grew from seed years ago and also got 
from the BX has never bloomed so there must be something about my 
conditions it doesn't like. I have a lot of Triteleias in bloom and they 
were unfazed by our weather. (T. ixioides, T. bridgesii, T. laxa, T. 
montana, T. lilacina, T. dudleyi). There is one population of T. laxa from 
Ron Ratko seed that I am wondering if it could be a hybrid with T. 
bridgesii. The stamens are attached at two levels, but the flowers have a 
translucent shiny throat. I had to recheck my key and it doesn't quite fit 
either one. The Brodiaeas  are budding. Allium hyalinum has been blooming 
since December, but most of my other native Alliums are just starting. I'm 
sure there's more I have forgotten, but these are the ones that spring to 

With flowering shrubs in bloom too, progress in the garden is slow. I just 
want to take it all in and also take more photographs even if I already 
have some from previous years.

Mary Sue

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