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Topics - janemcgary

General Discussion / Juno Iris propagation
January 23, 2023, 12:01:42 PM
Irises of the Scorpiris ("Juno") section have a bulb with thick roots attached at the base. Writers caution that the roots must not be detached from the bulb, but when lifting a crowded clump it's difficult to avoid that. Yesterday I found, in the back of the potting bench, a pot of such detached bulbs (lifted in August) that I had set aside (without soil), planning to pot them, and forgot about them. Some moisture had reached them in the leaky shed, and I was surprised to see that about half of them were producing live roots. I potted them up and hope to have a good new planting of Iris warleyensis, having grown the parent plant from a Josef Halda collection in the mid-1990s. So don't despair if your Juno bulbs lose their roots!
General Discussion / Cleaning over spring bulbs
January 21, 2023, 06:15:57 PM
When the snowdrops and other early bulbs emerge, they may still have winter debris over them. A wonderful tool for cleaning this up is the Bulldog Co. rubber-tined rake. I bought one at least 25 years ago and it's just beginning to deteriorate, so I searched for a replacement and found it on Pottery Barn's website. There are two models, and I prefer the narrow one, "Merlin", for maneuvering among plantings. The strong, flexible rubber tines are as gentle as fingers and will pull fallen leaves off the smallest emerging buds and leaves without damage, provided you use the rake with a quick, light stroke. Highly recommended garden tool.
Mystery Bulbs / Romulea from Libya
January 02, 2023, 11:30:12 AM
A query came via the PBS website from a botanist working on a flora of Libya, to identify a Romulea sp. found there. He has now sent me a set of excellent photos, but I can't seem to copy and paste them individually even within my system, so I can't post one here. There is one Romulea reported from Libya, R. cyrenaica. These photos show a member of the R. bulbocodium group, but with very striking dark purple and bright yellow stripes on the reverse of the tepals. If someone can comment, I will forward the whole message to you, with the 6 .jpg attachments.
General Discussion / Survival of cultivars
December 30, 2022, 04:56:23 PM
A deep dive into back issues of alpine gardening journals led me to notice many award-winning named cultivars of various bulb genera, some of which I had never seen in books, gardens, or catalogs. Most were of UK origin. Mainly those now grown in North America seem to be the ones that were propagated commercially. I wonder how many of the others are still extant in the UK and/or Europe? Do any of you preserve little-known cultivars of, say, Crocus? (I know you preserve those of Galanthus!) What are your hidden treasures? I promise not to write asking for them.
General Discussion / Proposed reference tool
December 19, 2022, 05:32:24 PM
I'm sorting a huge collection of alpine/rock gardening journals going back as far as the late 1930s. I can't bring myself to throw them in the recycling bin; they've been through too many great gardeners' libraries. Nowadays, the North American Rock Garden Society, the Alpine Garden Society, and the Scottish Rock Garden Club have made their back volumes available in digital form. This would include indexes. However, I wonder if it would be useful for me to make a bibliography (not annotated), by genera, of useful geophyte articles from these journals, so enthusiasts could go quickly to the online pages. It would be a winter project (we all need them), and I'd learn plenty. What do you think? I'm a very experienced bibliographer -- worked on Oxford UP's online reference bibliographies for years.
General Discussion / Hybridizing in large collections
October 10, 2022, 04:27:28 PM
I'm busy packeting seeds for the SX. One donor offers many different species in a few South African genera. It made me wonder how likely it is that coming from such a large collection, the seed lots will produce hybrids. I know my Narcissus have hybridized over the  years. I don't grow South African bulbs, since I have no heated facility. If you've grown SX seeds, have you seen many likely hybrids among the resulting plants?
General Plants and Gardening / Plant libraries
September 19, 2022, 11:14:50 AM
There comes a time when many of us realize we have shelves of botanical and horticultural books and journals that we no longer use. I just filled 8 shopping bags with journals to give away, and still have AGS and SRGC journals going back to the late 1950s (no, I wasn't a member then!), too technical to appeal to local gardeners. A couple of years ago I offered books to PBS members and got rid of quite a few, but there are more in surplus. Now another PBS member is offering a choice selection, including many excellent bulb books, to our NARGS chapter. Do any of you have any good ideas how to keep these books out of the recycling bins? A PBS LX (literature exchange)?
After almost 40 years of bulbs in August, I do not love this. Out as early as I can, sifting sand and sorting bulbs until the heat is too much, pulling out the gravestones -- the labels put in ten years ago, when I made this raised bed -- is about 80% depressing. The other 20% is finding very good things still alive, and they are going into plunged pots so I don't risk losing track of them. I have big baskets of Spanish Narcissus and California themids, which I will try to palm off on innocent persons; they're through choking out everything but the Calochortus and Tulipa, which get down below them. My goal is half the "directly planted" half of the bulb house, a space 8x20 feet; the other half, which is mostly free of narcissus and themids, gets done next year if I survive. I just turned 75, and I would hate gardening a lot less if I could hire help. The problem is not the cost, but the fact that reliable, skilled (or teachable) garden assistants do not exist in this area. We have "landscapers" (guys with a pickup and some power tools) and "garden designers" (people who've read some books about it), but not the legendary "gardeners." Thanks for listening....
General Discussion / Are tulips dangerous?
July 22, 2022, 02:51:25 PM
Long ago I was warned not to plant imported commercial tulip bulbs because they were likely to host viruses that could be transferred to my species tulips and lilies, which are likely to be more vulnerable to virus damage. How true is this? It's very tempting to order some Dutch tulip bulbs to grow for temporary color and especially for cut flowers. I don't have a solid-sided greenhouse, so insects (i.e., aphids) could get in among my species collection from the open garden.
General Discussion / Tulipa regelii seed
July 19, 2022, 10:34:41 AM
I have a small surplus of Tulipa regelii seed this summer and would like to exchange it for seed or bulbs, particularly of the following: western American Erythronium species, Colchicum kesselringii, Iris stenophylla, Fritillaria sect. Rhinopetalum. Fair warning: my plants took 7 years to flower from sowing -- but they produced their amazing foliage earlier than that.
PBS Members Affairs / Zoom presentations
July 15, 2022, 03:05:02 PM
During the pandemic some plant groups experimented with presenting illustrated talks on Zoom. Our NARGS chapter did this with mostly good results. The programs combined live narration with screen-shared photos. I showed one old talk, one new one, and later did a program on Fritillaria for an Anchorage, Alaska group. Probably more than a few PBS members have similar programs they've prepared for groups. Should PBS offer an occasional online offering of this kind? We would need a coordinator to set  up the Zoom meeting and act as "host." I'm not sure how we could get the invitations to all our members, since few of them seem to be using this forum, and not all are on the email list. It is also an opportunity to see, at least briefly, the faces with whom we've been corresponding, sometimes, for years.
General Discussion / In search of lost bulbs
May 31, 2022, 02:45:11 PM
As I read old issues of Brian Mathew's Bulb Newsletter, I come across mentions of things I once grew and lost, mainly when I moved and had the bulbs out of the ground too long. Where can I now get seed of Colchicum kesselringii, Crocus baytopiorum, Fritillaria liliacea, Fritillaria brandegeei, or Fritillaria tubiformis? The full list is a long one. What are you missing now?
Current Photographs / Maianthemum racemosum
May 22, 2022, 01:24:23 PM
Maianthemum (Smilacina) racemosum subsp. amplexicaule is the western subspecies of a widespread North American plant. The inflorescence is denser and larger than in the eastern subspecies, and the flowers have a beautiful fragrance that will scent a room gently when cut, lasting almost a week in water. This group in my garden is a clone I found in a tree farm near my former home and is particularly robust.
General Discussion / Calochortus notes
May 14, 2022, 12:45:10 PM
This is the beginning of the Calochortus flowering season here in Portland, Oregon. I grow all mine in the bulb house, which has a solid roof and open wire mesh sides. I was happy to see the resurrection of C. amoenus after several years, as well as a few other species I'm hoping are appearing again. Probably extra efforts to control cutworm helped. A determined search for C. coxii finally turned up its plants almost smothered by a neighbor. One problem has come up with identification: there appears to have been some kind of mix-up in labeling (or numbering) of donations to one or more SX offerings in the mid teens, around 2015-2017. A couple of groups raised from seed with other names have proven to be C. luteus. One labeled C. pulchellus has admitted to being C. amabilis, and another group whose label I did not unearth is actually C. pulchellus. One labeled C. umbellatus does not have the multiflowered stems said to be characteristic, but as this is its first flowering, it may get stronger, and the flowers appear correct. If you raised plants from that era of the SX, it would be good to verify the names before donating seed of them.
Current Photographs / Iris stolonifera
May 07, 2022, 12:38:46 PM
Iris stolonifera 'Zwanenburg Bronze' in a pot by Janet Friedenberg, bought yesterday at Oregon Potters Association sale.
General Discussion / Notholirion
April 23, 2022, 05:12:29 PM
Attached is a photo of Notholirion thomsonianum flowering in my garden on April 22. This colony grows under a deciduous magnolia in fairly rich soil that is watered once a week in summer. However, this species has appeared (from the tiny bulblets it produces) in various parts of my garden, including a gravel area that is completely dry in summer, a rock garden, and a shrubbery. The bulblets get mixed in when I move soil with other plants. The stem in the foreground of the photo is fasciated, which happens occasionally in this species, resulting in a flattened scape and more flowers. This desirable plant is an unusual color, cold-hardy to at least 15 degrees F, and fragrant. The winter-growing foliage, however, would not appeal to the fastidious gardener, since it is lax and long.