Real gardens;

Jane McGary
Thu, 24 Jan 2008 16:00:28 PST
When I write about or speak on my bulb collection, much of which is housed 
in cold frames, I always say, "Of course, this is not gardening. It's an 
adjunct to gardening." By this I mean the caged collection is a place to 
nurture rare plants in safety until I have enough increase to try in the 
garden, and also to distribute to other people around the country, most of 
whom will take a chance and plant these bulbs in the open garden.

Unless one's obsession is Dionysia or Porophyllum saxifrages, it's likely 
that a collection will eventually spill over into the landscape garden. But 
I do think it's a mistake not to have a systematic way of maintaining 
possibly difficult plants until that happens, if you have room. I certainly 
would not put some of my crocus species into the garden where mice, voles, 
moles, and chipmunks might likely eat them up, however well the plants 
might grow there until eaten. On the other hand, I recently moved most of 
my Corydalis species and selections into the garden because the bulb frame, 
dry in summer, does not suit the woodland types, and as far as I know they 
have no predators here.

Regarding Marguerite's wondering about bulbs she could plant in her upland 
southern California garden, many of the species she mentions have a growth 
cycle not suited to her climate (Habranthus, Ipheion). If I lived there I 
would look more at Mediterranean and Turkish species, and species from 
western South America rather than Argentina (northern CHile is southern 
California in a mirror). Gophers are likely to be a problem for her (I've 
rarely seen them here, and the dogs quickly catch them), but there are a 
lot of pretty genera that have unpalatable bulbs, such as Narcissus and Scilla.

We've just had our winter cold snap, only down to 19 F/minus 6 C here with 
severe wind, but with the frames shut the wind doesn't get to the plants 
much, and I've seen crocuses open during the coldest day (when it's very 
cold here, it's clear). However, the Cyclamen in the garden are looking 
quite miserable, even those in the lee of shrubs. I think they will 
recover; definitely the hellebores will, though they're presently flat on 
the ground.

Jane McGary
Northwestern oregon, USA

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