Maryland update

Jane McGary
Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:19:30 PST
Jim McKenney wrote about a few things he has in bloom, which prompts me to 
comment on their behavior on the other side of the continent. After having 
snow on the ground for two weeks, my place is now almost snow-free and 
there was a warm day Saturday, which I spent working with the bulb frames 
and cleaning up in the hope that visitors might make it out here this 
winter to see the flowers. Yesterday was cooler but not pouring, so I 
attacked a mess of dead (I  hope) blackberries, old lumber, and overgrown 
hollies back by the kennels, and plan to put in a group of large ornamental 
grasses there. The weed grass will presumably blend in with them, and if 
the blackberries resurge, I can use Crossbow on them without killing the 
grasses. (Anti-chemical folks, don't bother to scold me, please; you don't 
have the same problems, or very likely as much acreage.)

Jim mentioned Crocus chrysanthus 'Uschak Orange', a very bright one. It has 
self-sown in one of my raised beds, presumably spread by ants because the 
seedlings are so far apart. As for his Nerine foliage looking fine in the 
frame, I gave up on Nerine last summer, since it never flowers here, and 
put the plants out in the open in a raised bed. The leaves froze and turned 
to mush, and I suspect the bulbs, though well mulched, are also goners.

As for Jim's report of erratic flowering time of Tecophilaea, it never 
varies here: always in early March, with the leaves emerging barely before 
flowering. Possibly in his climate, the bulbs are getting too much moisture 
in summer? I have a lot of Tecophilaea seedlings coming on in the solarium, 
but I always fear they will etiolate (elongate and become weak), even under 
full glass as they are; this is a subalpine plant, and it seems to keep in 
character best if grown without any heat.

The spring snowdrops here are in full bloom, but Eranthis has not emerged. 
On the latter, last year a couple of us who were working on the order 
filling of the NARGS seed exchange found that a large quantity of Eranthis 
hyemalis seed was left over when we were packing up the seeds to send on 
for the surplus distribution, so we took some home, not expecting this 
purportedly ephemeral seed to germinate. To our surprise, it germinated 
very well last month, having been planted last winter. I've always thought 
it worth gambling on so-called ephemeral or short-lived seeds, particularly 
in the Ranunculaceae, and have raised four species of Adonis to prove it. 
It is a little tedious to raise perennial ranunculads (if I can coin that 
word) from seed because they make only a pair of cotyledons the first year, 
in most cases, and have to be cosseted for a few years, but once mature, 
they tend to be long-lived.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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