Tue, 09 Jul 2002 04:22:25 PDT
   As someone who has always had to struggle with the maritime/continental dithering of the UK's climate, Tasmania's mildness is a revelation.
 Hi Robert and all,
 And thanks for giving me the right moment to introduce myself to the list, although I think a few people on the list will know me.
 I have struggled with the maritime/continental dithering of the UK's climate but I think I've a remedy for the problem, more later.
 I grow a wide range of South African bulbs, about 800 species in all, on a garden just 17m x 15m, and thats not miles. To this I garden by the inch and not by the yard or acre. See website and my bulb gallery on 
 It is a wide range but I concentrate on growing Crocosmia, Chasmanthe and Tulbaghia, and I hold UK National Collections of these. I am also a very passionate grower of Kniphofia, Eucomis, Amaryllis (belladonnas), Crinum and Freesia laxa (Anomatheca), which I breed and have produced a range of pinks and lilacs. I also grow both colvillei and nanus Gladioli.
 My aim with many species is to grow them successfully in the UK climate and as many of you, get the best display from my garden, which I open for charity from June to September for National Charities. Here in the south-west of the UK we have a warmer climate and we are wetter but our specific problem is that we can have -5C by night and 18C by day and within just 12 hours, if you add rain and ice to the equation then it can be very detrimental to numerous species, especially those grown in pots. During some winters frost penetrates to about three inches so all but the hardiest bulbs have to be planted below 4 inches, indeed I plant Watsonias at 10 inches and have planted Crinum moorei at over two feet.
 I have learnt to place the bulbs deeper than what many books describe and by talking to many South African bulb specialists, have found that bulbs in habitat are found very deep, and not because of the cold but because of predation, namely baboons; and of course the deeper you plant a bulb, the more stable the soil temperature, which is why mulches are so beneficial, whether they be organic, inorganic or living, and why I can get away with growing such a wide range of species here. I am also very found of the word 'microhabitat' and completely believe that 'thought and placement' are the key words to successfully growing anything.
 I have found it very difficult to find non-invasive plants (non-bulbs) that will succeed as a groundcover around bulbs here, but perhaps the best to date is the South African Pelargonium grossularoides, which I feel in warmer climes could become quite a weed. It is quite invasive here but rarely shades out even the smaller bulbs. I also annually use Lampranthus as sort of annual sacrificial groundcover as it gets hit by frost but does protect the ground to some extent and of course is so easy to root from cuttings.
 I'm 37 years old, have spent all of my working life as a horticulturalist, qualifying in Amenity Horticulture at two of the UK finest horticultural colleges, but know look after my disabled wife Colleen on a full time basis which allows me the time to try and successfully grow all the bulbs I enjoy. Swaping and exchanging bulbs and seed with many people. 
 Likes: Gardening, walking our two dogs, sea fishing and music.
 Dislikes: Not having the time to do everything I want to.
 All the best,
 Dave Fenwick
 The African Garden

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