Memory Bulbs--TOW

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 31 Jul 2003 10:09:24 PDT
Dear All,

I've really enjoyed this topic a lot with images of bulbs seen in the wild 
and remembrances of special people and the bulbs connected with them. 
Paul's post resonated with me. I too have been appreciative of bulbs and 
seeds shared with me and they are forever connected with the person who 
shared them. Many of those people are on this list and it would take a lot 
of space to list them all. A few of my favorites that bring me pleasure 
every year are the Leucocorynes and Nothoscordums from Bill Dijk, the 
Lachenalias from Mark Mazer and Dell, the Veltheimias from Doug Westfall, 
the Pasithea from Jim Forrest, and the Sandersonias and a few other choice 
items from Dirk Wallace.

There are two people who had special importance in getting me passionate 
about bulbs. One of them was Wayne Roderick. He is a familiar name to a lot 
of you as he has written a number of articles in the NARGS bulletin and has 
lectured frequently. He is responsible for introducing a lot of people to 
California's bulbs since he has supplied the Dutch with specimens that they 
have reproduced. I have heard him lecture quite a number of times and have 
been in his company a number of times too when we have attended the same 
events. When I moved to my present location, I watched my perennials 
dwindle away because they could not compete with redwood roots. I overheard 
Wayne telling someone else that he had turned to bulbs for this very 
reason. He advertises blooms every month of the year without watering. 
Twice a year he opens his garden to visitors. Once a number of us gathered 
together to see his bulbs at his spring open house. The one that caught my 
attention was Tropaeolum tricolor that was scampering on a support. He 
later gave extras to California Horticultural Society and I eventually 
inherited some from my friend Jana. So it is my memory bulb for Wayne 
although our local rare and endangered Fritillaria called biflora biflora 
in Jepson, but F. roderickii but some of us in resistance is another.

Finally in 1989 I attended a Plantsman's conference at UC Berkeley that had 
an even bigger impact. One of the speakers was Stan Farwig who with his 
partner Vic Girard had a fantastic collection of bulbs that they grew in 
pots in their backyard, mostly grown from seed. The year is significant 
since it was a year later I think when an arctic freeze hit in December 
that wiped out most of their collection (California natives excepted.) They 
gave up then and gave what was left of their bulbs to UC Santa Cruz where I 
understand from Jane McGary they have been lost because of predators. 
Stan's talk was on Bulbs of the Southern Hemisphere and I started checking 
the ones I wanted to grow and when there were too many checks, double 
checking for emphasis. And sometimes I just ended up double checking the 
entire genus. I like to drag out that plant list from time to time and see 
how many of the ones I have checked I have finally gotten to bloom.

Stan also had a hand out that day called, "A non-concise guide to the 
cultivation of bulbs." I thought it was brilliant and have reread it often. 
In it he wrote about not giving up on seed pots if they had not germinated 
saying that seed of Juno iris had taken four years to germinate.  He 
followed that with this statement, "Less you find that too depressing, let 
me recount the remarkable performance of one of the loveliest and most 
neglected of our native bulbs, Alophia drummondii. Seed of it was sown in 
the third week of February, germination took place in the second week of 
March and it yielded its first flower on July 5th."

Because this is a bulb from Texas and I lived there for a number of years, 
after reading that statement I wanted to grow this plant and I started 
requesting seed whenever I saw it listed. So from 1990 on I started seed 
hoping that within a few months I'd have blooms. I got blooms, but never 
that quickly and never of Alophia drummondii. What I got was almost always 
Herbertia lahue. Then in the NARGS seed exchange I saw wild collected seed 
being offered and thought maybe the person who collected it knew what it 
was so the seed could have been labeled correctly. I was excited when I 
opened my order and found I had received it. I couldn't find the article 
from Stan and couldn't remember when to start it, so I split the package 
and started some then and some in the fall. The first sown 2/15/02 
germinated 5/31/02 and the second sown 10/24/03 germinated 4/4/03. 
Obviously I don't have the Farwig touch, but just in time for this topic 
the first lot has bloomed and it is indeed Alophia drummondii. I hope I can 
keep it going as it will become my memory plant for Stan Farwig whose 
enthusiasm and beautiful pictures started me on the path to appreciating 
and growing so many Southern Hemisphere bulbs.

If anyone wants to see what this bulb really looks like I made a wiki page:…

Mary Sue

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

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