Messiness of dying bulbs
Tue, 17 May 2011 08:20:12 PDT
Don Elick was a speaker at the Winter Study Weekend our local rock gardening 
group hosted in 1991. Interesting man! Among the gems of wisdom that dripped 
from his lips: he planted brightly colored dahlias to distract the eye from the 
messiness of dead and dying bulb foliage in summer.

A clue, perhaps, for Jane McGary and others dismayed with the messiness of 
Asphodelus albus.

Michael Mace wrote:

> Summer dryness is killing the I. viridiflora.

This is definitely an issue with cyclamen. I was told of a grower in, iirc, 
Wales, who grew his cyclamen in upended drain tiles sitting in about half an 
inch of water all summer. Cyclamen roots appear to be active year round, 
imbibing moisture and keeping the tubers turgid even during the dryest periods. 
This is why the cyclamen tubers sold commercially in garden centers are so 
withered and flabby. Leucojum vernum and Eranthis hyemalis are probably the 
same, explaining why they are so scarce in the trade. Neither of the latter two 
can take the drastic drying off that the bulb trade inflicts on its products, 
and even Cyclamen hederifolium is on the iffy side.

Cyclamen, it should be noted, seem to fall into two ecological classes: those 
native to sun baked Mediterranean climates and those native to woodland 
environments where the soil remains cooler. The Cyclamen Society's expeditions 
to Turkey have led to the conclusion that C. pseudibericum, for example, falls 
into the woodland category, tending to grow down in humus filled cracks in the 
rock in its native haunts.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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