TOW--Bulbs for Pacific Northwest Gardens

Marguerite English
Fri, 24 Jan 2003 12:35:08 PST
    Well, as you can see, I'm not in the Pac. NW, but neither am I in a typical California environment.   When winters are 'normal' we have a 7-8 year cycle with wet winters and dry summers, including a few dry years followed by a few wet years.   Being up against the mountains, I get the rain left over from Mexican tropical storms 2-3 times in late summer and fall.   Our previous few years have been drought time, but we seem to be moving into a wet winter, thank goodness. Narcissus are my standby.  Every year I plant another hundred or so along my roadside and driveway.  Our soil is decomposed granite, unless I have cleared away some of the chaparral shrubs.  (We have been focusing on that to clear extra width along our narrow roadway for fire and evacuation safety reasons.)  I usually get Park's best mixture for this.  It includes white and yellow, single and double, and represents a number of varieties. They usually bloom for about 6 weeks starting late Feb. I have some Allium, and they seem to do well. I intend to add more one of these days, but am finishing the addition to our house, so all special purchases are in abeyance for a while.  Planted out in my open areas or garden beds are:  A. gigantum, A. neopolitan, A. cernuum, A. schubertii, A. moly Jeanine (per vendor), A. christophii, A. beesianum, A. cyanea.

I planted an unidentified Home Depot Alstromeria outside.  Its blooms are a kind of tangerine-orangy-yellow.   It is doing well, and turning into a thug in one of the rich soiled beds.  I just transplanted some of it into a less rich perennial bed, to see if the gophers leave it alone.   If it does well, I have several other varieties in the greenhouse (which I keep quite cold) to be planted out as the year progresses.

Anenome vitifolia, robustissima and A. Japonica tomentosa tried to usurp the garden beds in which they lived.   I sent them away for now (and that took some doing).   When I get a chance, I'll try them in a less rich soil. I have also tried A. nemerosa , A sylvestris and  A. x lesseri.  I can't find these any more, was not keeping good records in the early years on this property. Home Depot windflowers pop up here and there every spring, where I've tucked them, and brighten the season nicely, especially the purple ones that bloom with the Primulas.  I usually add a few of these every year, if I have an area for them.

Brodiaea and Dichelostemma both do well, but I have to put them into wired beds or the gophers do find them eventually.   There are several endemic ones on the property.   When I tried to dig one, it was surrounded by small rocks and DG, so that must protect some of the wild ones from the critters.  D. Ida-Maia is lovely.  D. volubile has a nice vine, but I didn't see flowers last year. Maybe it takes a year. D. congestum "pink diamond" is still in a pot, and hasn't bloomed, but will go out as soon as I can get around to it.  A pink form of B. californica bloomed once, but not last year.   I planted B. terrestris, but can't remember where, and have no notes on it; I'll have to go looking for that one!

Habranthus robustus has done very well outside in three big clumps.   I have a number of species, and plan to try most of those outside in a bed I am getting ready this year.

Hyacinths as sold by the popular vendors have done very well.  They return every year, and the gophers seem to ignore them.  Those which are out in the open garden seem to do slightly better than those in richer beds.

Marguerite English,   Editor: 'The Bulb Garden'
Gardening with bulbs and perennials at 3700 feet in the mountains of 
southern California.    Extreme temperatures in our Mediterranean climate 
from 0 to 110 degrees F.   Average temperatures 15 to 90 degrees F.  A few 
days of snow in winter and a few days of extreme heat in Aug-Sept.  Drought 
conditions seem to be changing to an 'El Nino' year.   (I think that's 
long-hand for USDA zone 7B.)

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