Bulb Lecture

Robert Hamilton roberth6@mac.com
Sat, 08 Nov 2003 02:06:00 PST
Hi  all,

I  was  fortunate to be able to  travel to Melbourne earlier this  week 
  to  attend the Alpine Garden Society , Victorian Group  2003 lecture.

During registration the plant  trade table was  a very  popular  area.

The speakers  were Mat  Murray who  is a  Senior Horticulturalist , 
Rock Garden, Mount Tomah  annex, Sydney Botanical   Gardens   and  Tony 
  Hall , Manager of the Alpine Unit  at Kew Gardens.

Mat  spoke  of  his trip  to the  Atlas Mountains  in Morocco . This  
is   a harsh  environment  where the  summers    are  very hot and  dry 
by day  but  very cold overnight.  He  was  looking for  plants  which  
may    suit the  Mount Tomah  Rock Garden  which  gets  similarly  hot 
and  dry in  summer. This  is  the  home  of  garden  favourite  
Narcissus bulbocodium  but  surprisingly  Mat  found that  it  often  
grew in  niches  where some moisture  was  retained  and  has  
subsequently  found in culture  that it  flowers  better  in Sydney 
after some  moisture  during  summer dormancy.

The  slides  of the  alpine landscapes  were amazing  and  Mat's 
snippets  of   Moroccan  culture made  a  very  entertaining  

Tony  presented  an  A  to  Z  of  rare bulbous  plants  he  has  
cultivated  at  Kew. We  saw about   120  rare  species of  which  
about  one  quarter  were of  his   favourite  genus  Iris , especially 
  the  Junos.  I  have much  enjoyed an article by  Tony on  Juno 
cultivation, in the  AGS  special  bulb issue in 1998,  so  to  hear  
more of these amazing bulbs was  the  driving  force for  me  to  cross 
  Bass  Straight.

Most  of the  bulbs  he  mentioned  were  grown in the  Alpine  House 
at  Kew  to  protect them  from  the  extremes  of   environment  
especially  excess  moisture. Some  of  the  taxa  he showed us  
represented  the only known  representatives in cultivation and  sadly 
one or  two  of  these  have  been lost to  cultivation.  There  were  
too many   rarities  to  mention them all but I  must mention a few  
which  have  remained  in my  memory.

My  favourites  included Lilium catesbaei (SE USA),  Trillidium 
govanianum ( W Himalayas) , natural  hybrid Colchicum kesselringii x 
luteum (Tadjikistan  -  kicking myself I  didn't  order it from the  
last Archibald  list) , Galanthus trojanus (NW Turkey) ,
Crocus  moabiticus (Jordon  -  an  RIP  plant), the  Juno  Iris  -  I  
could  list  20  or   so,  Stenomesson aurantiaca (Ecuador, Peru ), 
Roscoea purpurea "Red Gurkha  (Nepal) ,Amorphophallus kiusianus ( Japan 
, Taiwan , SE China  -  a  hardy  one )  and  the  newly  described  
Biarum ditschianum (SW Turkey  - just a  hairy  spadix  appendix  
poking  out of the  ground.)

Tony  was a  very entertaining and  humerous speaker  . Some  of  his 
descriptions  of the  smell of  plants  were  very  funny   -  "wet  
doggy " was   a  common  one  , others  are  perhaps   best  not  
mentioned , although  Tony  was  able  to get  away with them.

Around  200  people  thoroughly  enjoyed this  evening  which  was  
rounded off  by a  delicious selection  of  edible  goodies  from 
Patterson's  Cakes  workplace  of Pastrycook and   legendary  bulb  
grower  Otto Fauser.


Rob  in Tasmania

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