Spring flowering in Oregon

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 03 Mar 2011 18:09:10 PST
Today I received my seeds from Jenny Archibald and sowed 65 species 
in the new potting shed, where the seed flats rest on shelves under 
glass. Many will not germinate until next year, but it's still chilly 
enough here in Portland, Oregon, that I think they'll experience one 
"winter" of moist chilling. The many Colchicum species I ordered may 
take several years, and then surprise me by popping up in response to 
some mysterious signal all within a few days. The vegetable seeds and 
annual seeds are waiting for a few weeks until hard frosts become 
less likely. An order from Chiltern's is eagerly awaited -- not 
bulbs, but even a tree or two that I couldn't find in any US nursery catalog.
	The new bulb house, with all the plants in deep raised beds, seems 
to be working well. The cold snap last week didn't kill anything that 
I can see (I put upside-down pots over the most vulnerable species), 
and many flowers are opening: Crocus species, the earliest 
Fritillarias, Hyacinthella and Hyacinthus, the first Romuleas, 
Gymnospermium ... and many buds evident, including some Erythronium. 
The beds look a little sparse, but I hope in a couple of years 
they'll be packed, thanks to a set-up that excludes predators. I gave 
them their first feed of spring -- the first of three -- this 
morning, mixing the soluble fertilizer with rainwater from the 
1100-gallon storage tank just outside the bulb house. I also 
completed the raised sand bed surrounding the tank, which I hope will 
be a good home for Alstroemeria and Iris species, and perhaps a 
Daphne or two if I can keep the alstros off them. Long berms of soil 
await the arrival of many shrubs ordered for shipment in late March, 
and eventually I hope to interplant them with lilies -- something I 
couldn't do in the country because of the deer and rabbits.
	In the garden the Narcissus obvallaris ("Tenby daffodil") I brought 
from the country place are opening in the grass, along with crocuses 
and an assortment of spare bulbs that got thrown under the sod. The 
half-built rock garden is dotted with geophytes thanks to desperate 
measures and volunteers in the pile of old bulb potting soil I had 
brought from the old place. Narcissus romieuxii has flowered bravely 
through temperatures in the low 20s F. Another pleasant surprise is a 
plant of Dodecatheon clevelandii, from the California Coast Range, 
that has lifted its flowering stem twice after being flattened by 
frost and snow. Indeed, the hardiness of California geophytes never 
ceases to gratify me: never believe the ratings given them by the books.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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