Fall Flowers

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Thu, 19 Oct 2006 18:09:03 PDT

I've been so busy reporting on what we saw in South Africa (I still am 
adding pictures to the wiki) that I haven't written about what is blooming 
in my garden. We've yet to have a change in rainfall pattern where I live. 
We've had very small amounts of rain twice, but nothing significant since 
May so  there is still fire danger and my garden is really dry. Still I can 
be patient since there are predictions we could have a really wet winter. 
Weather where I live in the fall can by sunny and pleasant so I shall enjoy 
that why I can. I was thrilled when I returned from South Africa to find my 
first ever Brunsvigia in bloom. I've bought plants and were given some and 
have a lot others I've grown from seed that have yet to flower. Ironically 
the one that bloomed was the only seed in that lot of seeds I was able to 
get to come back the second year so it never had any competition from other 
seedlings. It is growing in my raised bed.

A stand out bloomer for me this summer into fall has been Hesperoxiphion 
peruvianum. If you keep removing the potential seed pod after the one day 
blooms, it will keep on blooming so I left it with a friend when I was gone 
and she did that for me so now it is in the 3rd month of bloom as it 
started in August. Some days I've had up to nine open flowers. It blooms 
almost every day. On the other hand I don't seem to be able to get Tigridia 
pavonia which was such a joy in a garden with warmer summers to bloom. Rob 
Hamilton said its not happy in a pot and maybe it's too dry in the ground. 
I'm not sure why one works and the other doesn't. I've added a picture of 
Trimezia martinicensis I got in a trade from a pbs member that has been 
blooming for a couple of months. I've also taken the seed pod off of it. I 
moved it out of the greenhouse for the summer, but I suppose I need to move 
it back once it starts to rain. It looks a lot like Lee's picture of a 
different species. I wonder how to tell them apart. I just accepted the 
name I was given as it sounds like the only descriptions I can find. It's 
another one of those that is not for anyone who works during the day as the 
flower is only open briefly in the middle of the day.

Bessera elegans is blooming now (one summer bloomer I just love that didn't 
start to bloom until recently) and the hummingbirds are going for it or 
some Nerines that are blooming at the moment. I've scared many away when I 
went out my door before I noticed them so don't know which flower on my 
porch they were after. The nerine that is blooming near the Bessera is red 
so both flowers are red so it could be one or the other. I have a lot of 
species and a few hybrid Nerines in bloom and a few winter rainfall species 
in the ground that have spikes. My Gladiolus carmineus is almost done 
blooming and as usual was wonderful. I have another small Gladiolus in 
bloom before the leaves in one of my raised beds and today I noticed a 
Hesperantha coccinea (think Schizostylis) in bloom in spite of the very dry 
soil it is trying to grow in.

My Oxalis collection is not doing well this year. Only a few have sprouted 
although there are a few blooming. I'm not sure why that is as usually I 
have good luck with them. Most of my South African bulbs have been breaking 
dormancy and some Polyxenas are now in bloom too. I'm not going to call 
them Lachenalias until everyone else does. The Lachenalias are returning 
and Lachenalia rubida (nice spots on the flowers and leaves) in my raised 
bed has buds on it. I find it so exciting as the Lachenalias appear with 
their leaves so attractive in the early stages before my excessive rainfall 
and humidity changes that. Massonias have buds on them. I have Haemanthus 
albiflos in bloom including one from a Doug Westfall seed that was pink 
with two more upright leaves than the usual white ones which have more 
leaves, perhaps a hybrid? And I'm very excited to report that I'm going to 
get my first bloom from a Veltheimia capensis. This is another one that 
doesn't look as good once it starts raining. Also I have a number of 
Crocuses in bloom and my Cyclamen have been spectacular including some that 
I've finally found some places in the ground where they'd return and 
thrive. I love all those gorgeous leaves, especially since I've been 
growing a number of them long enough that the leaves are really attractive. 
They seem to get better as they are older. The first year or two the 
markings are not as developed.

I have two pots of Narcissus cantabricus in bloom. In some ways I enjoy 
these early flowers more because they don't have as much competition.

Mary Sue 

More information about the pbs mailing list