Jim's singing the blues, and it's a happy tune

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Thu, 23 Feb 2006 07:40:50 PST
The low temperatures predicted for earlier this week came and went. The
lowest temperature was probably about 15 degrees F. I'm happy to report that
there was no damage that I can observe. Even Nerine sarniensis forms/hybrids
came through without damage (although carefully covered). 

I'm even happier to report that one of the Tecophilaea cyanocrocus has a bud

Iris rosenbachiana is still in bloom and Iris 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' has
started to open. Crocus olivieri istanbulensis is blooming, as are the lawn
tommies, C. ancyrensis, C. imperati de Jager, C. laevigatus fontenayi, C.
korolkowii forms, C. biflorus forms, C. sieberi forms, C. etruscus
Zwanenburg (very lovely, this), Bulbocodium vernum, Merendera trigyna and M.
sobolifera - the last three' are also called Colchcium, Colchicum szovitsii
'Tivi', Acis tingitana, sweet and so-called Parma violets in a frame but not
yet in the open garden, the first Hepatica nobilis also in a frame, Eranthis
hyemalis and lots of Galanthus and hellebores. Galanthus elwesii and other
early types have been in bloom for weeks; Galanthus nivalis is just
starting. Fritillaria raddeana has pale yellow buds the size of Good &
Plenty candy (I guess that dates me) on a stem which projects about three
inches out of the ground. Several Narcissus have buds up, but no actual
flowers or even bud color yet. The list is a bit deceiving: in most cases
only one bloom of each taxon mentioned is up, but it's a beginning. 

No peepers yet, although a friend in Caroline County, Virginia (about two
hours south of here unless you drive like a crazy person) reported that they
were going full blast for him last week. There had been snow inches deep
only a few days before, and more snow fell the day after the first big
chorus. Peepers are the crocuses of the frog world. 

Oddly, the sprouts of the members of the Pacific Rim aroid genus Lysichiton
show freeze damage here every winter. I have yet to flower a member of this
genus here, and I keep a keen eye on the size of the emerging sprouts. 

Above I mentioned the flowering of Crocus imperati 'de Jager'. In the old
days this was thought to be an interspecific hybrid (imperati x suaveolens);
now that suaveolens and imperati are considered to be conspecific, we can in
good form call it simply C. imperati 'de Jager'. But doing so obscures
something to which I think attention should be drawn: in the old days,
Crocus imperati (what we would now call Crocus i. imperati) was considered
to be a much more handsome flower than the nearly sterile monophyllus forms
such as 'de Jager'. Crocus i. imperati was praised for its larger flowers
and more variable color patterns. 

One other thought on this group of crocus: Crocus imperati 'de Jager' is
deliciously scented. Crocus imperati suaveolens is also well scented, as its
name suggests. But typical C. i. imperati is not well scented - Patrick
Synge went so far as to describe the scent as acrid! 

So that raises some questions: in particular, is anyone in the group growing
Crocus i. imperati?  

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where sun later today should
bring out a lot more color and fragrance.  

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