What is blooming mid-October

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 19 Oct 2013 13:03:44 PDT
Portland, Oregon (latitude about 45 degrees N) is experiencing clear, 
mild weather this week after two periods of heavy rain starting early 
for the region. Many bulbs and all the annual weeds (mostly 
Mediterranean imports) are in growth. The inventory here is quite 
different from those reported by gardeners in milder areas, such as 
Mary Sue and Gastil with fine collections of South African bulbs.

In flower on the rock gardens are Sternbergia greuteriana, S. lutea 
and S. sicula being through; Crocus kotschyanus is through, and C. 
pulchellus and C. cancellatus starting up, along with various 
colchicums that got in by accident. Arum pictum flowered about a 
month ago. Cyclamen graecum is near the end of its flowering, and C. 
mirabile is starting. In the garden borders and under trees Cyclamen 
hederifolium, including C. hederifolium ssp. confusum, covers a lot 
of ground, and the surprising survival C. africanum is in bloom too. 
Acis autumnalis is scattered here and there. The large colchicums are 
almost done, except for 'Alboplenum' (aka 'White Waterlily'), 
long-lasting thanks to its double flowers. A few small colchicums, 
especially C. boissieri, flower in the lawn and on a little berm 
around the bioswale, where Crocus boryi, C. hadriaticus, and C. 
asumaniae are also doing well. Two east Asian alliums, species 
unknown, are coming into bloom at the front of the borders. Crocus 
speciosus is another one for that position.

The fall sections of the bulb house have been going strong for about 
a month, beginning with Colchicum and Merendera species, closely 
followed by Sternbergia. Sternbergia lutea and the possibly separate 
S. sicula are almost done, but a small form of S. lutea (I think 
that's what it is) is in full bloom, as are three acquisitions of 
Sternbergia greuteriana (the third is offending me, because the seed 
came as Sternbergia clusiana, which I would much rather have). One of 
my new favorite colchicums is Colchicum pulchellum, whose little 
seed-grown corms somehow produce lavish bouquets of about 15 flowers 
apiece. Among the fall crocuses are C. tournefortii, C. 
cartwrightianus, C. cancellatus in several subspecies, C. serotinus 
ditto (including the albino 'El Torcal'), C. hadriaticus and its 
beautiful forma lilacinus and handsome cultivar 'Elysian Pearl', C. 
goulimyi and its vigorous albino form 'Mani White', C. mathewii with 
its violet centers in white or lavender tepals, stout little C. 
boryi, and statuesque C. niveus in typical white and pale, two-tone 
blue-lavender. Alas, the 20-year-old corm of C. moabiticus seems to 
have died, but a few of its seedlings are putting up leaves. I may 
also have lost a wild-seed C. banaticus because of excessive 
groundwater takeup in its spot at the uphill end of the bed, though 
it has popped up in the lawn; thank goodness I gave some to Mark 
Akimoff for his nursery a few years ago. Some of the fall oddities 
are blooming or have already done so, such as Prospero (formerly 
Scilla) autumnalis, obtusifolius, and intermedius; Acis valentinus; 
and now the only fall-blooming muscari, Muscari parviflorus, very 
well named with its minute dark blue flowers.

I hope to rebuild what was once a good collection of Crocus species 
now that I have a vole-free garden, and eventually to work with the 
many species of Tulipa that I've started to grow from seed. This 
summer I moved to the garden a number of bulbs formerly grown under 
cover and will see how they survive when we get one of our colder 
winters. The goal is to have something in flower in the open every 
day of the year.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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