Bulbs for Shade--TOW

Ernie O'Byrne nargsbs@efn.org
Mon, 19 May 2003 16:29:53 PDT
Here are my choices for the Pacific Northwest: [I am presuming, since Mary
Sue mentioned Cyclamen, that we are including geophytes and not strictly
just bulbs.]

1. Lilium martagon--a wonderful bulb for shade that seems easy to please and
is possible to grow quite easily from seed. It just takes patience, 3-4
years to bloom, which isn't so bad. It comes in several forms and colors:
white, a mauvey-reddish-pink and, apparently from the Olympic mountains, a
color that I am still trying to track down--a claret red--seen in a slide
2. Arisaemas of any sort, but a few of my favorites are AA. sikokianum,
candidissimum, taiwanense griffithii, and tortuosum. They are all pretty
easily obtainable and not hard to grow--at least here. OK, if I have to pick
one, it would be sikokianum, especially the silver leaved forms and when
grown in masses. There is just something about that pure, pristine, white
spadix against the very dark spathe that really does it for me.
3. Corydalis nobilis. This is a lovely, statuesque tuberous corydalis with
glaucous foliage and 2-3" heads of yellow flowers with a mahogany tip, not
often seen in gardens here. Each head has about 10-25 flowers that are a
little over an inch long. I can't say that I have mastered the culture of
this plant and it sets very little seed for me and what it does set does not
germinate terribly well, even when sown directly off the plant. Someone in
Sweden actually sent me about 3 oz. of seed, just after collection from a
woodland with thousands and thousands of plants, and I sowed it immediately
upon receipt--at least much of it--and I have had two, yes, two seedlings
germinate so far! Anyway, nice if you can get it somewhere.
4. Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense. Talk about statuesque! One of the
most exciting things about this giant Himilayan lily is that it takes so
long to come into bloom--as long as 7 years from seed--or three to four from
an offset. It creates so much suspense in the spring as the huge leaves
begin to unfurl--well, is it going to bloom this year! And then I suppose
what adds to the alure somehow is that after producing that huge bloom stalk
(in our thin, sandy soil, only about 6-7 feet, but sometimes up to 12' and
more in richer soils), up to 5" across at the base, surmounted by enormous
and fragrant white bells, the parent bulb dies, producing a few offsets.
These can either be dug out and replanted (which I recommend), or left in
place and, if the soil is rich enough will bloom in a few years, themselves.
Oh, var. yunnanense has purple tinted leaves and stems upon emergence and
the stems remain darker even at blooming time.
5. Erythronium revolutum. An Oregon native and my favorite fawn lily. It is
a great 'dooer', making quite a show given a few years, reseeding easily in
place. Just don't weed out the little seedlings the first year, thinking
that they are grass, which is what they look a lot like! I love the mottling
on the leaves and the large dark or light pink flowers, and the proportion
of flower to leaf is just right, in my opinion, unlike, for example,
tuolumnense, which is a bit leafy!
6. I was going to include Podophyllum delavayi, but I didn't know whether it
would be considered enough of a geophyte to count! Those huge, velvety,
darkly mottled leaves are a real surprise when one comes across them in a
shady corner of the garden or alongside a path. They seem to be quite fast
to 'bulk up', too, unlike P. difforme, which sulks in our climate (at least
in our garden). And then there is the bonus of the bright red flowers just
blooming now and reddish fruit later in the year. We have lots of seedlings
coming on and it will be really exciting to see how they all look, since
each plant has a different pattern and slightly different shape to the

Ernie O'Byrne
Northwest Garden Nursery
86813 Central Road
Eugene OR 97402-9284
Phone: 541 935-3915
FAX: 541 935-0863
Eugene, Oregon is USDA Zone 8a on the map, but we can only grow Zone 7
plants reliably. Member of NARGS, SRGC, RHS, American Primula Society,
Meconopsis Group, Alpine-L, Arisaema-L, Hellebore Group

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we
arrive at that goal."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

-----Original Message-----
From: pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Mary Sue Ittner
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2003 2:22 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: [pbs] Bulbs for Shade--TOW

Dear All,

The topic for this week is bulbs for shade. We had requests from people who
were wondering what to plant in shady areas of their garden. We also had a
suggestion I really liked (a way to make my job easier) for a number of
topics that everyone could help with, that is everyone who was willing. The
idea was that each person could nominate their favorite five bulbs for
shade. <SNIP>

I hope a number of you will participate in the discussion this week.

Mary Sue

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