More Romulea images and what's in bloom

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 11 Feb 2003 20:48:52 PST
Dear All,

I fell in love with Romuleas when we visited South Africa in 
August-September in 2001. As a diversion from my archive project which is 
almost finished I have posted some images to the wiki on the Romulea page:…

We have had a respite from the rain for a couple of weeks and some glorious 
sunny days and I have a lot of bulbs in bloom. I won't list them all since 
I know some of you from colder climates are still waiting for spring, but 
just some of my favorites. Finally blooming (and growing in the ground) are 
many Leucojum aestivum. Last year I had blooms in December so this is a 
couple months later and I'm not sure why that is since it hasn't really 
been cold and last year we had a lot of rain early too. As I wander around 
my garden I get whiffs of Freesia alba which is one of my weeds. It is 
really nicely fragrant. Also I keyed out a new Freesia from the wonderful 
new Cape Encyclopedia finally blooming from a Robinett mystery bulb and it 
is Freesia fergusoniae. This one kind of lies on its side and the creamy 
yellow splashed orange flowers are also wonderfully fragrant. I was 
visiting my open air bulb structure and smelled it before I saw it.

My Oxalis obtusa pots have been spectacular with the pinks, oranges, 
salmons, various shades of yellow, some intricately marked. Back when I 
thought Oxalis was a weed Diana talked about being dazzled by her benches. 
She, Mike Mace, and Andrew Wilson made me so interested I had to try some 
and I soon understood. Oxalis goniorhiza has been blooming since November 
with a bit of time off when it was so rainy. This is my first year for it. 
Was it Robin who sung its praises? It have to agree. It's very nice when it 
is closed even with the red on the back of the petals and a nice white when 

I love Cyclamen leaves and have Cyclamen coum blooming in many different 
shades and with many different leaf forms. It doesn't seem that long ago 
that Bill Dijk sent a number of us who wanted Scilla natalensis seed a few 
extra seeds of other things (because it didn't cost any more he said) 
including Cyclamen and that started me down the Cyclamen road which has 
been so satisfying.

This time of year I enjoy what on California's North Coast I think of as my 
native Cyclamen just because I love the leaves. I grow several forms of 
Cardamine californica in the ground, but my favorite one is C.c. sinuata. 
It has purple and green leaves in many amazing combinations. And it is a 
geophyte and one of our first wild flowers to bloom in the spring! It is 
spreading in my garden in shady places and comes back every year without 
summer water. One of these days I'll get a picture one the wiki, but it is 
hard to photograph to give it justice. It's one of those things that when 
people come to my garden they stop and admire and say, "What is that?" And 
it sometimes blooms the first year from seed. The blooms are a bonus, but I 
really grow it for the colored leaves.

I already have Calochortus blooming. I have some nicely marked Calochortus 
uniflorus that I hope will join Sheila's beautiful image on the wiki when I 
get around to it and favorites C. umbellatus and tolmiei. And I have some 
Triteleias blooming already too including T. ixioides scabra that the 
Robinett's called 'Tiger' that Mark McDonough  showed on one of the images 
list and hopefully will add to the wiki. Another one in bloom is a really 
tiny short Triteleia hyacinthina, also a Robinett find.

There continues to be one Lachenalia opening after another including 
Lachenalia 'Trader Joes'. I learned how to name these accurately from Patty 
Colville. Last year I bought this one at Trader Joes and it was growing in 
straight peat in a very tiny pot. This year in a bigger pot with a 
different mix each bulb has split and so each clumps has 3-5 blooming 
stalks. A particularly nice form of Lachenalia mutabilis that came from 
Bill Dijk seed is blooming now too. I planted some in the ground year 
before last and they are going to bloom again in the ground although the 
leaves are a bit marked from the winter storms and hail. Lachenalia carnosa 
that I remember fondly from one late afternoon in Namaqualand when I was 
trying to find the best one to photograph in the rocks as the sun was 
setting and I was being goaded by Rod and Rachel Saunders and my husband 
that the one in their sight was the best, is blooming now gift of Mark 
Mazer and the BX. It has wonderful leaves as well as flowers. In my mind's 
eye I remember it in the rocks and also looking off into the distance and 
instead of seeing a mass of green grass like we do here in the winter the 
whole scene was orange from all the closed daisies.

My first Spiloxenes are blooming. I have a pink form of S. capensis that I 
got from Bob Werra that is really pretty with a turquoise center. And at 
last I have one S. serrata blooming. Jim Duggan had mentioned on his web 
page that this was a long blooming one and I have found it really 
challenging to get it going from seed. I only have a couple, but was 
excited to see one in bloom.

Geissorhiza inaequalis is blooming everywhere. I'd like to report that 
heating it to 160 degrees  (71 C.) while sterilizing my soil doesn't seem 
to phase it all. Some Oxalis survived this as well. It's a good think I 
like it because it is one of those that appear in other pots since it forms 
really tiny corms around the main corm that easily come off.

My yellow Veltheimia bracteata from Doug is opening and I have nice buds on 
the others. They will always be favorites of mine, if only for their 
leaves. I must admit the leaves of the ones I shelter from the rain look a 
bit better than those in the ground.

My two favorite Hesperanthas are blooming: Hesperantha latifolia which is a 
beautiful bright pink and the nice form of Hesperantha cucullata from Wayne 
Roderick seed that opens early afternoon instead of early evening like the 
other ones I grow and sacrifices fragrance in doing so. It has nice pink 
markings on the back and more subtle pink showing on the front. I bring it 
in to enjoy at night since it stays open until dawn.

But I did say I wouldn't talk about everything so I will end where I began 
with the Romuleas. Jennifer posted the picture of Romulea komsbergensis for 
me. This was the first year for it from seed I got from Dirk Wallace. It is 
a lovely thing, but didn't bloom very long. Hopefully next year more of the 
corms will bloom so I'll have a longer season. I have been enchanted by my 
red Romuleas for weeks now. I will never ever forget seeing them in mass in 
the wild when we visited in a wet year August 2001 and have included one 
picture of that on the wiki. You will have seen a picture like that 
probably before since those of us fortunate enough to see those flowers in 
bloom and photograph the scene used our pictures. Rod Saunders put a 
picture in the Silverhill Seeds catalog and Richard Turner a picture in 
Pacific Horticulture. My husband also took a very nice picture of my own 
Romulea sabulosa blooming last week in a container. I grew it from Bill 
Dijk's seeds a number of years ago and it is doing very well for me. I 
added some pictures I took of Romulea monadelpha (front and back) last 
year. It starts to bloom for me as Romulea sabulosa is finishing and has 
been in bloom for about a week now. Both are two of the most beautiful 
bulbs I grow and I hope you will enjoy the pictures of them.

As you can see from my note so many of my treasures are courtesy of others 
who made seed or bulbs available or just made me want to try to grow these 
because of their enthusiasm.

I hope to get many of our old posts into the archives soon, but just had to 
take a break from it and focus on the flowers for my sanity.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner <>
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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