Is it summer or fall?

Jane McGary
Fri, 16 Aug 2013 17:19:57 PDT
Mid-August is a time when the last Mediterranean-cycle bulbs of 
summer overlap with the first bulbs of fall. Calochortus weedii and 
C. plummerae have finally dropped their petals, and the California 
onion Allium sanbornii is in full bloom, the only "summer" species 
doing so in the bulb house. There, however, the colchicums are waking 
up, whether watered (on the "moist" side) or not (on the "xeric" 
side). Colchicum macrophyllum opens its flowers, which are 
surprisingly small considering the size of its leaves. White 
Colchicum kotschyi is open on the dry side, and I saw the pink tips 
of another species emerging this morning. In the garden Brodiaea 
californica (last of the themids) is almost over, and Acis autumnalis 
has raised its sudden white bells, and where watered, Cyclamen 
hederifolium is beginning to open, as is the related Cyclamen africanum.

In the borders, Crocosmia hybrids are the most colorful right now, 
and Eucomis species remain ornamental for a long period. Eucomis 
autumnalis doesn't wait until fall to flower here -- it blooms right 
along with the other species and hybrids. Another curiosity that just 
opened is Alstroemeria isabellanae; thank to Nhu for identifying this 
plant, a Brazilian species that is being sold as "Alstroemeria x 
Bomarea," presumably because some grower couldn't tell which it was. 
The western South American alstroemerias here flower much earlier, 
though little Alstroemeria hookeri has been pushing up flowering 
stems for at least four months, and I harvested the first seed 
capsules from it today. (If you don't want to lose your alstroemeria 
seed, which is dispersed explosively, check the capsules by bending 
them over gently. The mature capsules detach easily from the 
pedicels. Slightly immature ones can ripen in the envelope, though, 
if you have to pick them in the wild.)

By the way, I'd like to mention how useful it is to write out the 
full names of bulbs we discuss, as I've done above. People doing an 
internet search for a plant often find it on the PBS website, and if 
the full name appears in our archived posts, it can be helpful to 
them -- and even recruit new members.

Jane McGary
Membership Coordinator
Portland, Oregon, USA

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