Favorite Bulb Combinations

Kenneth Hixson khixson@nu-world.com
Sun, 29 Jun 2003 17:03:46 PDT
Hi, Members.  I doubt that it is really what Mary Sue had in mind for
the TOW, but there is something I sometimes use which for my own
convenience I call "marker bulbs".  Suppose there is a plant which
comes up late, dies down early, or otherwise is often "out of sight,
out of mind" where you would otherwise try to plant something else,
hoe the area, or just step in the spot and break the emerging stem.
	Plant something which is visible when the more desireable plant
is underground.  Crocus is one choice, but in this garden I am blessed
with bushy tailed tree rats (aka squirrels) which love to dig up and eat
crocus, and in the process damage other things.  I don't really like bulb
cages-they do rust out, are a nuisance to dig up to divide the bulbs 
inside, and you never have them when you need them.
	Then for a while I tried onions-egyptian top set onions, which are 
always readily available, and which nothing seems to bother. (Not even me!)
Not pretty, but they work.  
	Then Ixia somehow occured to me.  They are weeds here, although flowering 
weeds-and weeds after all are only plants where they aren't wanted.  Ixia
up early in the fall, are visible all winter, flower in April and May here, 
and are dormant and may be cleared away by now.  The Ixia here are hybrids 
and do not seem to set seed.  The disadvantage is that they are very tall--up 
to three feet in flower, and the colors don't always mingle with whatever
is there.
	I'm still not sure if they are really hardy here-the last several 
winters have been relatively mild, but so far they are weeds.  They are
uncommon enough that this spring the doorbell rang, and when I opened the
door, the lady standing there had been walking by, seen them, and wanted to 
know what they were and where to get some.  I'm now ready to try some Ixia 
species which I hope will be shorter, possibly earlier (maybe fragrant?), 
and in different colors.  I've also been debating mixing some Ixia with 
Dierama, similiar flower shapes and plants, but am unsure if growing the 
slow growing and hard to transplant Dierama with weedy Ixia is a good idea.  
If anyone has tried it let me know.
	I've mentioned Alstroemeria psittacina and Dichlostemma ida-maia as
a bad idea, although the Alstroemeria can be pulled out when the shoots are
	I've considered other "marker bulbs" but so far these are ones I've used.
They need to appear early, not be so massive or invasive they harm what they
mark, need to be reasonably cheap, and available when needed.

	The reason for using "marker bulbs" instead of say, Dianthus, is that
plants like Dianthus serve to harbor slugs, which will ruin the growing tips
of (for instance) lilies, just as they come through the ground.  Bulbs like
do not provide the cover for slugs but do serve to remind that there is 
something growing there.

	Ken western Oregon Z7

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