What's happening here

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Tue, 30 Jan 2007 08:13:01 PST
Here in Montgomery County, Maryland we're in a period of overnight low
temperatures in the low 20s F, with daytime highs slowly rising over the
freezing point into the upper 30s or very low 40s. Some days have been windy
enough to be very unpleasant. Plants in the garden are on hold for the
duration of this: the garden is full of hellebores, snowdrops, witch hazels
and the other usual winter flowers. Mostly these remain huddled during this


The little cold frame on the sunny side of the house is a different world.
There is always something in bloom there during the winter, and right now
Crocus korlokowii 'Agalik', Crocus gargaricus, C. vitellinus, Acis
tingitana, and some snowdrops in short supply are blooming. With the likely
exception of the Acis, none of these needs to be in the cold frame, and in
the future they will be moved out into the garden. 


It isn't just flowers which provide the excitement in the frame.  This is
"sprout season", and there is a real sense of enjoyment to be had in
inspecting all of the pots to see what is about to happen. Fritillaria in
particular are getting my attention: F. bucharica, F. acmopetala wendelboi,
F. raddeana are poking up, and since these emerge more or less flower buds
first, the interest focuses on counting flower buds, too. F. biflora and F.
liliacea have been in bud for weeks, patiently waiting for more warmth I


This is the same frame where Freesia viridis is now blooming. Amazingly,
none of these things shows any sign of cold damage, nor do the two Nerine or
such things as Leucocoryne or the many winter green aroids. 


Flowers are not the only source of interest: Sternbergia greuteriana has set
seed and its capsules are slowly ripening. And talk about luck: Tecophilaea
cyanocrocus seems to have set seed! I say luck because although I went into
last summer with two plants, during the summer something took one of them.
It's amazing: in a frame packed with presumably tasty corms, the culprit
chose one of the two Tecophilaea. My efforts at hand pollinating these last
year were not a success, so I'm doubly surprised at what seems to be
happening this year. 


Last weekend the guest speaker for our local chapter of the North American
Rock Garden Society was Chris Wiesinger of the Southern Bulb Company. Going
into this, I anticipated a Christians-thrown-to-the-lions sort of event: I
had checked out his website and found that it offered a handful of plants,
not one of them a "rare bulb" candidate. Our chapter includes professional
botanists of international reputation, hyper-enthusiastic master gardener
types, people who have been gardening since dirt was invented, professional
horticulturists, folks on a first name basis with Janis Ruksans and a
certain bulb fanatic some of you may know about. Nor is it the sort of group
which sits back and listens quietly: take one step out of line, Mr/Ms
Speaker, and someone will almost certainly pipe up and set the record
straight. What in the world would Mr Wiesinger  have to offer this group? 


A few minutes into his presentation and this personable young man (all of 26
years old!) had all of the big cats eating out of his hand. It's been awhile
since we've been so well entertained. I doubt if it would have made much
difference if he had been talking about collecting old cars instead of old
bulbs: he conveyed such a sense of his enthusiasm for what he is doing that
I now wonder how many of us might have signed up to work for him had the
opportunity presented itself. There was this room of largely older people,
many retired or nearly so - the sort of people who have breathed a lifetime
of stale office air - and there was this 26 year old guy showing us a
picture of the little red house (a glorified shed) in the middle of a red
dirt farm in Texas where he and his coworkers live and work: the sense of
wistful longing among the audience members was palpable. We sent him on his
way showered in good wishes for continued success - and wondering how a
quality guy like Chris hasn't been snapped up by some corporate head hunter.
Good Luck, Chris! 



Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/







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