Jane McGary
Thu, 10 May 2012 09:33:14 PDT
Rich Haard wrote,
>Here is Camassia leichtleinii ssp suksdorfii  grown at our farm seed 
>source Lummi Rocks, a pure stand, that i have been growing at our 
>farm many years. Colors vary on this island from pure white the a 
>pale blue and a deep blue (purple). We are also growing a Oregon ss 
>Camassia leichtleinii from seed obtained from a nursery in Oregon 
>(Williamette Valley ss).
>Here is the 'pale yellow'  Camassia leichtleinii ssp leichtleinii 
>image taken 2 weeks ago near Roseburg, Oregon.
>I've noticed before in the area but this time driving around back 
>roads in the area it does indeed dominate the local plants.

The freeway I-5 runs down the middle of the Willamette Valley in 
Oregon, and this time of year it's interesting to note the continuum 
of color forms in Camassia leichtlinii (note spelling) in the 
roadside ditches. As you go south, populations change from deep 
blue-purple to paler blue to near-white.

As far as I know, the only C. leichtlinii form in commerce is the 
semi-double greenish-white form, called, I think, 'Alboplena'. I'm 
surprised the deep blue ones aren't widely grown, but in fact I don't 
grow them myself, never having managed to stop by the right spot in 
the road when they were in seed, if the Highway Department had not 
mowed them down before that.

I do grow several forms of C. quamash and C. cusickii. Like other 
correspondents, I find the forms that emerge with variegated foliage 
don't keep the variegation. The one I have is 'Blue Melody'. Recently 
a PBS member was here and noticed the very large, mid-blue form of C. 
quamash, subsp. maxima, which I grew from seed identified as 'Puget 
Blue'.  There is also a small commercial clone 'Orion' with very 
narrow leaves, and a short one, subsp. breviflora, grown from seed 
collected near the Oregon-California border.

All these plants enjoy sites that are moist to wet in winter and 
spring, but they can dry out later. They go dormant by mid-July and 
self-sow readily where suited, such as in the "rain gardens" 
(bioswales) that are now being promoted in this area to curb runoff. 
I had to install one of these features in order to get planning 
permission for my bulb house, and the camasses are very happy in it, 
as is Fritillaria camtschatcensis. The construction of a "rain 
garden" is pretty labor-intensive because of the deep excavation and 
layers of material; I hired a crew with a Bobcat (small excavating 
machine) to do it. Its downhill side is surrounded by a berm that is 
suitable for other kinds of plants, and a "bulb lawn" (currently 
annoying the neighbors until it's ready to mow) is downhill of that, 
today featuring the later-flowering Scilla species and, of all 
things, Gladiolus tristis. I just threw baskets of leftover bulbs in 
under the sod and left them to their own devices.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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