TOW--Bulbs for Pacific Northwest Gardens

Diane Whitehead
Mon, 20 Jan 2003 22:49:50 PST
I won't mention any of the many South African seedling bulbs I have, 
just the ones I have, or had, in the garden.  The amount of rain I 
get is about half that of Ernie's garden, and I don't think he 
mentioned the stream he has running through.  I garden on top of a 
hill that has a couple of gravel pits nearby.  Drainage is not a 
problem.  The property was a field when I bought it 35 years ago, but 
I planted lots of trees, so now I spend a lot of time pruning, trying 
to get some sunshine.

Anemones grow well.  I have a small collection of nemorosa forms in dry shade, which retain their foliage during the summer. Several named A. coronaria thrived in an unwatered area for several years but haven't been seen for too long.  I will have to try again.  I don't know whether they died from natural causes or because their area beside the driveway is a favourite spot for my husband to off-load lumber during renovations.  Maybe they tried coming up and got discouraged.

I have many different species of arisaema which I've grown from Arisaema-L seed. So far they grow much better in pots than in my garden, though A. sikokianum and taiwanensis seed themselves in the moist gardens of friends. I am developing a leafmould-filled area beside the front door where I hope I can keep an eye on them to keep them watered enough in the summer.  A. flavum maintains itself in a seldom-watered area.

Arum nigrum likes it here.  Its lush leaves come up in the fall but don't ever seem to suffer in the winter.  The flower smells awful for a short while but the scent seems to dissipate, or maybe my nose gets numb.

Brodiaea 'Queen Fabiola' has bloomed for many years.  I'm sure the clump is exactly the same size as when I planted it, and it hasn't seeded.  Is it a triploid Netherlander? 
Camassia, a native that grows in meadows near the sea, has continued to bloom for the couple of decades since I planted it, but I haven't seen any increase. 
Chionodoxa - several cvs and species bloom but don't increase.  C. sardensis has seeded - I guess I have thousands of gentian blue flowers every spring.  I love them, and the plants are so small, and the leaves disappear so quickly that they aren't a nuisance.

Corydalis solida, in various colours, mostly from Thimble Farms, comes up every year under fruit trees. 
Erythronium oregonum and a natural hybrid of it with revolutum grow well.  I started with a couple of plants of each, and each year take the seed and toss it around the base of another tree. Now I have dozens. E. revolutum is a streambank plant so doesn't like it dry. E. dens-canis increases gently. I have tried lots of others less successfully - for instance, I bought a few E. hendersonii from Kline in '89 and planted them under some pine trees that never get watered. I thought they would feel they were at home in the Siskiyous, but it didn't work.  I think they bloomed once or twice, but now all I get are some feeble looking leaves.  I must try something to plump them up so I can enjoy their dark-eyed mauve flowers.  Water?  Compost? Crushed serpentine? 


No Fritillarias have survived here yet.  I know that I should have watered F. meleagris more assiduously, but I haven't figured out yet why persica and imperialis didn't come up a second time.  Maybe they need summer water, too.

 Galanthus really like it here, and I like them.  I grow any species I can from seed, and have brought named forms here from England.  I have been selecting unusual forms of G. elwesii from my grandmother's garden where they have been seeding themselves for 80 years.

Gladiolus papilio, a rhizomatous plant with subtle gray-green-mauve nodding flowers, is happy, as are some of the magenta European species which I've grown from seed and don't know which are which.

 Hyacinths last for decades but don't increase.

 Leucojum vernum is now going to have a better chance to survive here, since I visited it in the squelchy stream banks it calls home in the Czech Republic.  I will plant some in the moist bed where my arisaemas are going to go. It deserves  another chance, especially for its sweet scent.

Lilium - I have bought hundreds and the only ones that have survived are ones I have grown from seed, several of which are 30 years old. Even Tiger Lilies died out.

 Narcissus ought to do well, but really don't.  I have bought hundreds of these, too, including beautiful Mitsch ones I chose in flower in Oregon. They last for a while. Maybe the narcissus fly gets them.

Nerine bowdenii is such a delicate pink in the fall, swathed in a pink Clematis texensis hybrid that flowers at the same time.

 Rhodohypoxis manages to flower every year and be noticed, despite being so short.

Tigridia flowered in an almost-sunny spot for many years but then died out, perhaps in a bad winter.  I must grow some more.

Some tulips are good perennials here. Tulipa batalinii in various colour forms bloomed for about 15 years until their area became too shady.  The Apeldoorns in reds and yellows increase.  I dug them up and put them in my fenced area that keeps deer out, more or less. (I think the fawns manage to squeeze in).

Diane Whitehead  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter - 68 cm annually)
sandy soil

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