Blooming now/Weather changes

Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 01 Feb 2009 16:48:42 PST
Dear All,

People subscribed to this group so we could talk about bulbs in the broader 
sense and growing them and I'd like to get us back on topic before we have 
a mass exodus.

It seems like there have been a lot of weather extremes in the last few 
years and I'm interested in knowing how people are coping. There have been 
droughts, floods, colder than usual weather, warmer than usual weather. Are 
people losing plants or finding some grow better?

I live in coastal northern California, but on a ridge in the mixed 
evergreen forest and usually we have rain and a lot of it between sometime 
in October and November and May with it dry the rest of the year. The 
months with the most rain are December, January, and February and after 
that it tapers off. Storms usually start north and move south, but this 
year they aren't getting to us. And the tropical storms from the south 
aren't coming far enough north either. We've lived here 20 years and it has 
never been as dry this time of the year as it is this year and we are in 
the first stages of voluntary water conservation. This is leaving everyone 
very worried as last year it stopped raining in February and we had bad 
fires in the summer.

In addition to the drier weather we had unseasonably warm days for part of 
January as well. It has been beautiful if you don't think about how it is 
supposed to be. What this has meant for my garden is that things are 
blooming much earlier than usual. I am getting a sense of what it must be 
like in Southern California most years. Normally I don't have to water my 
too large collections of pots in winter, at least not those that get rained 
on, but not this year. We collect water from the roof, so I'm using that 
for now. It doesn't take much rain to fill our water barrels so am keeping 
my fingers crossed that before I've exhausted my supply it will rain again.

Yesterday I did a survey and there were blooms in more than 100 pots with 
spikes in others. That's a bit unusual for January and there are quite a 
few things blooming in the ground as well. All three varieties of 
Tecophilaea are blooming. Some years they don't even come up until January. 
I've a lot of Romulea in bloom: R. crocea, R. sabulosa, R. luteoflora, R. 
flava, R. kamisensis, R. kombergensis, Romulea bulbocodium, R. monticola 
and something that has been well eaten (tag says R. subfistulosa alas since 
it is one of the more spectacular ones.) And there was a Galaxia that 
bloomed that I missed. I have several species of Cyclamen blooming in pots 
and in the ground and Narcissus both places as well. Ixia rapunculoides is 
falling over in more than one place and there are Crocus blooming in pots 
and in the ground. A few early Lachenalias are finishing and others taking 
their place. The Massonias are about done except for Massonia depressa. 
Oxalis in bloom are all my different obtusas, Oxalis purpurea forms, O. 
versicolor, O. depressa. Gladiolus caeruleus has been booming for some time 
and other Gladiolus like alatus have well formed spikes. The Veltheimias 
seems to have sent up more spikes than usual, but aren't quite open. I've 
had quite a few Babiana species in bloom for awhile, but two new species 
started blooming today. Leucojum aestivum which doesn't bloom consistently 
at the same time each year is blooming now. In the greenhouse a couple of 
Haemanthus are just about done, but I have several Cyrtanthus in bloom, one 
Phaedranassa, Canarina, and Tropaeolum tricolor in bloom. There is another 
Trop species that got away from me before I could train it properly and it 
is growing all over the top of the greenhouse. I'll have to use binoculars 
to see the flowers. For the first year in years Tropaeolum brachycercas (at 
least one) showed up. I wonder if I have missed it in the past and not 
watered enough since that first shoot was so tiny and thin. And all my 
yellow Ipheion-Nothoscordum-Tristagmas, whatever we are calling them, are 
blooming this year. One pot had remained dormant for many years. There is 
also a white Nothoscordum unidentified, but not the bad one, that has been 
blooming well. As for my natives I have these in bloom: Erythronium 
multiscapodium, Cardamine californica, Triteleia clementina, Scoliopus 
bigelovii, Calochortus uniflorus. It looks like a long blooming year for 
Spiloxene serrata that started blooming in December and was flowering 
today. And there is the first Scilla and a Hycinthoides blooming too and 
the first of my Delphiniums.

Some of the flowers don't seem to be lasting as long as they usually do and 
some Oxalis have already gone dormant. I don't know if this will lead to a 
shorter season and if that will impact the blooming season next year or if 
since there has been more light they will been doing the necessary growing 
and it won't make any difference.

Any reports from other parts of the world of successes and plants lost to 
the weather?

Mary Sue

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