Telos Rare Bulbs

M. Gastil-Buhl
Sun, 10 Mar 2013 10:29:09 PDT
Speaking of being lured in...

I just came in from the garden where I noticed my tiny patch of Moraea  
tripetala, planted fall 2011 from Telos, have many buds forming. Last  
year their show was overshadowed by the purple bee-buzzing cloud of  
abundant Tropaeolum hookerianum ssp. austropurpureum bloom. But this  
year my Tropaeolumn is taking the year off, as Diana will attest they  
do sometimes. All the way across the garden, from where I sit at the  
keyboard, I can see the giant purple clusters on long stems of the  
Dichelostemma capitatum I ordered from Telos last year. They smell  
strongly of honey and are now in their third week of bloom. Near me,  
on the porch is the Lachenalia from 2011, blooming its indescribable  
mix of colors. This one taught me I was using the wrong potting mix,  
as it did not dry sufficiently last summer. The Oxalis fragrans (not a  
species, just a name) is just a cushion of leaves now but all last  
autumn it was covered with flowers opening in the late afternoon and  
evening, so fragrant even my husband could smell them.

Unlike most bulb nurseries, Telos is in a climate similar to my own.  
Diana researched which crocus could persist without a cold winter. I  
am growing a couple Crocus species from Telos which worked in her  
climate so I am optimistic they will be as pretty next year as they  
were this year.

Growing bulbs from seed is slow and tricky. Before I tried seeds, I  
ordered bloom sized corms, bulbs, and tubers from Telos. And I have  
learned much from growing each species as a mature plant. Sometimes  
the lesson is not what I expected. Mistakes have taught me more than  
my successes, and have pushed me to learn more, often from PBS  
members. I have learned how to look at a plant, seeing features I  
never thought of before, like leaf cross-section and margins of  
bracts. It feels indulgent to plop a mature bulb in the ground and get  
instant flowers. But those blooms are what lured me in to seed  
germination and taxonomy. So take care browsing the Telos catalog...  
you might get inspired or set off on an unexpected journey.

- Gastil
Santa Barbara, California
where the Ipheion uniflorum has just hit peak bloom today

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