Flowering this week September 2

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Mon, 03 Sep 2012 12:46:29 PDT
An ongoing experiment here is seeing what bulbs will grow well in 
dense turf, where mowing begins around the end of June when the 
Narcissus foliage withers. The fall bulbs have begun to pop up 
through the perennial grass, which has mostly turned brown after an 
August that saw no measurable rainfall here (I did, however, run a 
sprinkler on the area once a week). Acis autumnalis (formerly 
Leucojum autumnale) raises its red stems and snowflake bells here and 
there; it seems too delicate to flourish in turf, but its bulbs are 
substantial and multiply very fast, so it's a good choice for 
experiments. The colchicum that opened today is Colchicum x 
agrippinum, a hybrid of C. variegatum that's hardier than its parent 
but has the same strongly checkered flowers; it's another fast 
increaser, perhaps because it's sterile. No Cyclamen hederifolium has 
made its way out into the lawn yet, but in a few years I expect it 
will, as the seeds are distributed by ants; just now it's putting on 
a show in the bare area surrounding two very large Douglas firs, 
where little else will grow. C. hederifolium subsp. confusum was 
planted into a border to keep it separate, and has just opened its 
first flower.

Prospero autumnale (syn. Scilla autumnalis) is an active self-sower 
and has popped up here and there. Scilla scilloides (I forget what 
its new name is, and don't know if it's one of the scillas that are 
accepted under other names) has been in flower for a couple of weeks 
in an irrigated border. The same area holds several species of 
Eucomis, now concluding their summer season: E. bicolor, E. 
autumnalis, E. pole-evansii, and some of the purple-leaved cultivars. 
In a nearby bed the selection Acis autumnalis 'September Snow' is 
doing well: it is a robust variety whose flowers lack the tinge of 
pink seen in the typical ones.  The first hybrid colchicums are 
opening in the garden, here and there.

In the bulb house only colchicums and a stray Acis autumnalis subsp. 
oporanthum are open now, though the "moist side" has been watered 
occasionally and the "dry side" received a faint sprinkling to 
maintain a little humidity. A deep color form of the large-flowered 
Colchicum bivonae is most prominent. Colchicum hierosolymitanum 
continues to produce flowers, including four from one corm; they're 
small but have nice substance. The first of the Merendera group (now 
included in COlchicum by some botanists) has opened too--M. montana 
(or C. montanum), called espanta pastores iin its native Spanish 
mountains because its appearance warns the shepherds to move their 
flocks from the high pastures ahead of the coming snows.

To encourage bees to frequent my new garden, I've planted a lot of 
native Pacific Coast annuals and some other "bee plants," especially 
near the bulb collection. Phacelia has been especially successful 
early in the season, and now the non-native annual Cynoglossum 
amabile is attracting pollinators. The biggest draw, however, is a 
plant that I wonder if many Mediterranean-climate gardeners know: the 
perennial Campanula versicolor. I collected seed of plants that were 
still flowering in October in the Peloponnese, where they were 
growing in a dry stone wall. The one plant I raised is now settled in 
a dry stone wall surrounding a sand bed where the temperature is 
moderated by a large black water storage tank in the center, and it 
has produced 8 or 10 tall scapes with hundreds of large, widely open 
flowers that just keep coming. The pale lavender flower is 
distinctive among campanulas in having a deep violet central zone, 
which apparently is irresistible to honeybees. I hope to get plenty 
of seed from my plant and if so will distribute it through the NARGS 
exchange. It may be a little tender for many North American gardens 
but would be a terrific addition where it's hardy. It looks rather 
closely related to C. pyramidalis, which is a biennial I've grown in 
the old garden, but is shorter (stems about 30 to 50 cm) and bushier.

I bought some tuberose bulbs (Polianthes tuberosa) to grow in a pot 
this summer, but only one has flowered. Can anyone tell me how well 
this species survives winters in the open ground? My summer-dormant 
bulb house wouldn't suit it, but the new garden is in a "banana belt" 
and has some especially sheltered spots, including a corner near the 
front entry where a Bomarea is flourishing after one winter in the ground.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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