Blooming in my garden

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 22 Jan 2005 08:37:13 PST
Dear All,

I always like hearing what is blooming in people's gardens and am pleased 
that the Narcissus (originally from Bill Dijk and a BX) is doing well for 
Kathy. I used to grow a lot of Narcissus in my Stockton (California) garden 
and they returned well and expanded, but have not had as good luck in my 
coastal garden. Perhaps there isn't as much sunshine. But a few of these 
bulbs from Bill I am growing in pots are absolutely wonderful. The one 
Kathy is talking about had its first bloom in September during one of our 
heat spells. It looked a bit stressed, but bloomed in October, took a break 
in November and sent up more buds in December and January. There is another 
one he labeled N. monophyllus which I understand is N. cantabricius ssp. 
monophyllus which has been blooming since October. Two pots of N. romieuxii 
(also BX survivors) from him have been in bloom since early December. I 
just love their soft yellow blooms. In the ground this week Narcissus 
pseudonarcissus is in bloom right next to Iris unguicularis which has been 
putting out its gorgeous huge flowers for months now. There are buds on a 
pot of one of the detective series Narcissus from Dave Karnstedt, Narcissus 
'Smarple'. I've very excited about this.

This little corner of California has escaped unusual rainfall. We've only 
had about 25 inches of rainfall so far which is below the amount we had 
last year at this time. I think my bulbs have done much better with less as 
the last two years we had so much all at once that it was difficult to 
avoid disease. Since it hasn't really been cold yet (we had frost one night 
on the roof only), a lot of bulbs are blooming earlier than usual. We've 
had a week without rain which is supposed to change soon and new Romuleas 
have opened every day. Romulea hallii has finished.  In bloom now are R. 
tortulosa, R. luteoflora, R. kombergensis, R. tetragona, and two European 
Romulea bulbocodiums, including a new yellow one that Jane McGary gave me 
(syn. R. crocea). The Romuleas have such bright colors that they definitely 
lift your spirits. I'm happy to have that new R. from Jane as I tried to 
grow it before, but eventually figured out what I was growing was really R. 
hirta. Also in bloom from seed from an early BX (#7) is a yellow Romulea 
(labeled, large yellow flower in the BX offering). I think it looks like R. 
diversiformis, but will have to remember to look at the corm when it is 
dormant to be absolutely sure. R. sabulosa has buds and a lot of other 
Romuleas as well. I avoided R. sabulosa seed because I had read it was hard 
to grow even though it could well be the most beautiful Romulea of all, but 
then Bill Dijk sent me some seed and it has been absolutely faithful, 
returning every year. I guess we all have to find out for ourselves what 
works in our environments.

Speaking of bright colors, this lover of Oxalis has been enjoying the 
Oxalis obtusa now blooming and joining the Oxalis versicolor, O. 
goniorhiza, Oxalis glabra, Oxalis purpurea (white), and Oxalis luteola 
which have been blooming for months on those days it was warm enough for 
them to open. There are two forms of Oxalis luteola that I have never been 
able to get to bloom which is such a contrast to the two that do bloom for 
me often for 4+ months. There are two oxalis I got from Uli that are yellow 
that are very floriferous and wonderful in bloom. I'll try to get pictures 
to the wiki soon to see if Diana, Andrew, Robin Attrill, or David Victor 
have any clues about what they might be. I didn't get the habitat 
information from Uli, but I think they are both South African.

My little collection of Cyclamen I've grown from seed is getting to take up 
a whole bench now. I've got so much that I am planting more and more of it 
out even though so far they seem to dwindle away that way. The one 
exception seems to be a couple of Cyclamen that I assume are C. coum but 
need to key out to be absolutely sure that came up in a pot of Brunsvigias 
to my surprise. I haven't wanted to disturb that pot I put in the middle of 
my raised bed octagon where it gets a lot of sun and no summer water and 
very little fertilizer. This year peeking out of either side of the 
Brunsvigias are pink and white flowers and Cyclamen leaves. C. coum  in 
many forms, C. repandum, and C. persicum are all in bloom in pots as are 
some hybrids.

I have a couple of Muscari in bloom: M. neglectum from an old Mike Mace BX 
and M. botryoides from NARGS 2001 seed (and a very nice blue.) My Gladiolus 
caeruleus has escaped the rain this year. Usually just as it starts to 
bloom in January it get pounded by the rain as does Ixia rapunculoides 
which is another early bloomer. I've had to stake both of them as they flop 
a bit, but am grateful for the lull between storms. Not so lucky were the 
Lachenalia viridiflora and L. bulbifera that have pock marks in their 
leaves from our hail storm in early January. The  ones I protected look 
much better and my first L. carnosa is doing its slow dance. This bulb is 
so large I should have planted it one to a pot as it is overwhelming its 
companions. The leaves on this plant are lovely and as each flower opens I 
just find it so fascinating.

In my unheated greenhouse I have 3 Cyrtanthus mackenii in bloom. A friend 
of Rhoda's gathered up a bunch of seed from various colored forms to give 
to me on our first trip to South Africa and in this pot one is white, one 
light pink, and the third an orangy pink. Before I've usually just had one 
in bloom at a time. There is also a Phaedranassa in bloom. I don't think 
I've ever had one bloom in January before.

I'm sure I won't remember all the others, but I have Crocus, Babiana, 
Androcymbium, and my first Tecophilaea too in bloom. Native Cardamine has 
been blooming since December and Allium hyalinum and the dwarf form of 
Triteleia hyacinthina are in bloom too. On my hike this week I spied the 
first Scoliopus bigelovii in bloom in the wild and then once I saw it 
looked around and they were everywhere. I didn't have Bob's camera with me, 
alas. My own Scoliopus plants are breaking dormancy. Last year I watered 
them all summer when they were dormant on Ian Young's advice, but don't 
know yet whether that helped enough for them to bloom this year.

If there are still any of you reading another long post from me you will 
note that I love my geophytes and greatly appreciate all the contributions 
I've received (knowledge, bulbs, seed) from the bulb community even if I am 
out of room and still starting seeds!

Mary Sue

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

More information about the pbs mailing list