Spring flowering in Oregon

Ken kjblack@pacbell.net
Fri, 04 Mar 2011 08:11:03 PST
Sounds exciting, Jane!  Take some "before" pics ... as well as those of the Shooting Stars you described ... and share, if you can!  Wish I had gotten around to installing a rainbarrell system like yours. 
Ken Blackford
San Diego

--- On Thu, 3/3/11, Jane McGary wrote:

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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