Braggin' about what's blooming

David Ehrlich
Wed, 04 Mar 2009 18:17:43 PST
Despite reports about the brevity of winter on the San Francisco Peninsula, the mountainous part where I live has had an extended cold and rainy winter with few indications that spring may come.  In late January I took a trip to Eureka, a coastal city in Northern California.  Allium neapolitanum, a common weed in all of coastal California, was in full bloom.  Here, it has yet to come up.  Oxalis pes-caprae was in full bloom in San Jose in mid-January; it just started blooming here, a week or so ago.  But deep red Trillium chloropetalum is in scarcely open full bloom.
Last autumn I thought I’d treat myself to some irises from the reticulata group which I hadn’t grown for some years.  The local nursery had three varieties – I.danfordiae, I. ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ and I.reticulata.  I bought bulbs of all three and potted them up together in a large planter.   The I.danfordiae came up in late January to cold sunless days.  Of those that came up (about half didn’t bother to) some languished in a gloomy half-open state until demolished by rain and hail.  Then came the I.’KH’; for two glorious days, before the rain returned and flattened their flowers.  Finally the less finicky Irisreticulata opened, despite rain and cold.  A totally miserable display.
I planted a border of rhizomes of Irisgermanica hybrids.  Leaves came up.  Well, the Freesias haven’t done anything yet either, so I guess it’s still early.
On the other hand, my Irissuaveolens rubromarginata is blooming.  It blooms twice a year for me – in autumn and spring, and has almost tripled its size in the last year.  It likes wet.
Color for me finally came in the form of Sparaxis tri-color.  Last year it was a meek little thing; this year it is robust with several bulbs and many spikes of flowers.  I will photograph it when it stops raining.  I think it’s supposed to stop after 40 days.
Well, other plants will bloom, and spring will come – soon, I hope.
David Ehrlich

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