Blooming in California

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 23 Jun 2009 16:07:15 PDT

Since I grow mostly winter rainfall bulbs, I'm coming to the end of the 
time for blooms as I expect we won't have any more rain now until October 
or November. This has been the driest year since we have lived in coastal 
Northern California, but we were lucky to have more rain than usual in May 
which is when the rainfall is usually tapering off. We had a period of good 
rainfall then, more like January or February. It didn't seem to do a lot 
for the spring wildflowers which were missing the usual rainfall earlier 
although we had a reasonable if not quite as good as most year's show. But 
this late rain has seemed to be a good thing for the bulbs which bloom 
later. When out hiking there have been patches of Brodiaea terrestris in 
such great quantities that sometimes it is hard to find a place to step. 
And I've seen some Triteleia peduncularis is places I didn't know existed 
before and there has been a lot of Triteleia laxa. There seems to be a 
great variation in the color and height of the local populations of the 
latter. For months and months Iris douglasiana has bloomed in mass. Now we 
are moving into Lilium maritimum and Lilium pardalinum time and I'm happy 
to report that the deer haven't eaten all of them in the wild yet! 
Something else is taking a nip at the buds of the Liliums I'm growing in 
the ground and in pots. Even though the flower is small I'm very pleased 
that Lilium parvum is blooming for the first time from seed sown October 
2007 thanks to advice about how to get them to bloom sooner provided on 
this list from John Grimshaw.…

For a number of years I've been planting cormlets of various Brodiaea and 
Triteleia in my yard without seeing many signs of them, but this year there 
seems to be patches of Triteleia laxa all over the place. Triteleia 
ixioides, T. hyacinthina, and Triteleia bridgesii are about done, but 
Triteleia purdyi is starting and Brodiaea elegans, Brodiaea jolonensis, and 
B. californica are in full bloom. I've first bloom from seed from Brodiaea 
stellaris which I had lost and Brodiaea minor which is well named. I've had 
reasonable bloom from many of my Calochortus (always a cause for 
celebration) and a first bloom from Calochortus clavatus var pallidus which 
is gorgeous. I'm not very good with the southern California species so 
don't know if it will come back, so I've been visiting it a lot to admire it.…

Other than that, the last Cyclamen repandum is fading, my native Alliums 
have also bloomed well and still looking good are Allium falcifolium and A. 
dichlamydeum. I don't have Rodger Whitlock or Mark McDonough's luck growing 
Alliums in the garden. Most disappear never to be seen again, but I can 
grow some of the California natives in containers. This year I flowered a 
non native one in my raised beds (in a container in a container) that I had 
been growing from seed started in October 2002, Allium subvillosum. That's 
a long time to wait for an onion.…
It was a tall stately lovely flower. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture 
of the form for the wiki. Hopefully it will bloom again next year so I'll 
have another chance.

I have some late Ixias, Gladiolus, and Tritonias finishing and the weedy 
Aristea and Orthrosanthus in bloom, a couple of South American Oxalis and a 
pot of Rhodohypoxis is blooming too. I have quite a number of Dierama 
plants in my garden and they are just opening. I've a few more blooms than 
usual from the Alstroemeria Roy Sachs gave me. I've concluded I need better 
soil and more moisture for them to thrive, but they must have liked the 
late rain.

But I'd say the star of the garden right now has got to be a low growing 
hybrid Gladiolus.…
It probably is a named cultivar, but no one has told me which and it 
combines nicely with Triteleia laxa. I've planted them all over the garden 
and they are really making a statement.

Those late rains encouraged a lot of the non native grasses and other 
invaders in the wild and they are taller than I've even seen which is a bit 
scary after last year's fires.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 

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