Not much blooming as we approach Christmas

Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 22 Dec 2002 15:11:15 PST
Today the sun is shining for the first time in about 9-10 days. We have 
seen it briefly, but mostly it has been raining, or pausing between rain, 
or hailing, or blustery. The sun is delicious and since more rain is 
expected I was tempted to move myself to different parts of my garden as 
the sun moves to them and just soak up as much as I can. But I also wanted 
to survey the damage. Quite a few leaves look damaged by the weather, but I 
am almost more surprised by those that are not.

So what is blooming here in Northern California as Christmas approaches. 
Quite a few Oxalis would be blooming if it were just a bit warmer as they 
have closed flowers: Oxalis obtusa (pink, apricot, peach, copper, yellow), 
Oxalis purpurea (white), Oxalis goniorhiza and versicolor (both pretty when 
closed with candy striped petals), and Oxalis luteola. I have four clones 
of the latter. Two of them have never bloomed even though I have had them 
for quite a few years. One of them usually doesn't even break dormancy 
until February or so. One of the others is a wonderful long blooming plant 
that brings me much pleasure every year and the other a new one from the 
IBS auction in Pasadena that looks like a winner too and is a sunny yellow 
unlike the other which is much paler. It just goes to show you that you 
can't dismiss a plant as not being something you can grow by just trying 
one clone.

A few Cyclamen coums are already blooming and I am still getting blooms on 
this one Cyclamen purpurescens which first started blooming in July. And 
thanks to Mark I bent down to smell it and it really is nicely fragrant. 
Muscari neglectum has been blooming since November and I saw some new ones 
opening today. And leaves are coming up of the Iris unguicularis I cut back 
and a new flower bloomed today. Romulea tortulosa has been trying but the 
weather hasn't cooperated, but it too bloomed today. Right before that 
first storm ten days ago I had a bloom of Calochortus uniflorus which no 
doubt had been lulled into thinking it was already spring by the warm dry 
weather we had been having. I have had non stop blooms on a Moraea that 
came via seed from Dirk Wallace labeled as Moraea venenata. I struggled 
last year to determine how it was different from M. polystachya and wasn't 
sure. But it does much better for me that the M. polystachyas I have grown 
in the past so I am thrilled to have it. Last year it looked diseased with 
two straight months of rain in November and December so this year it is in 
my covered structure and looking much better.

I too have Lachenalia viridiflora in bloom with its wonderful turquoise 
flowers and I have nice scapes forming on a whole lot of other ones as 
well. Crocus laevigatus has been blooming off and  on weather permitting.

Finally every year I survey my ever expanding collection of pots and 
question my sanity. But this week when the weather was raging outdoors I 
brought in two Narcissus plants to protect them from the elements and to 
enjoy their bright encouraging flowers. In the northern hemisphere spring 
of 1999 Bill Dijk shared a number of Narcissus plants with the IBS BX. I 
got six different ones. Two bloomed that first year at the wrong time and 
those two have been the only ones to bloom, blooming last year as well and 
again now. They are Narcissus bulbocodium monophyllus and Narcissus 
romieuxii var. zaianicus. The latter this year has just been covered with 
blooms and even in the low light (without power) was beautiful. Hopefully 
some of the other four will bloom this year too.

How do all the digital photographers do on yellows? I've had a terrible 
time with my regular camera getting pictures I am satisfied with of those 
two lovely flowers.

There are quite a few spikes on various Gladious caeruleus plants and 
Babiana curviscapa is trying to bloom. I have this one planted out and it 
all depends on when it rains whether I actually get to see those beautiful 
flowers. I am sure it would be much happier in Southern California or 
sheltered from the rain.

Finally even though that is all to be blooming right now there are still 
things coming up every day and seeds germinating too that give promise of 
what is to come. I am always especially excited to see 2nd year seeds 
coming back.

Mary Sue

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