Real gardens;

Marguerite English
Thu, 24 Jan 2008 12:19:26 PST
    This is definitely an interesting topic.  It fits in well with the 
PBS original mission of 'using bulbs in the garden.'  Sometimes our 
topics are about collections or their scientific basis, and occasionally 
about our gardens.  I enjoy both kinds of topics.

    I do agree with Robert that our collections and our gardens are 
different beasts.  I am on a mission this year to get my garden back 
into shape after several years of neglect.  It is a challenging task, 
but an enjoyable one.  I have ordered some old roses (which I mix into 
my cottage garden area or my shrub border) and many new bulbs.   In fall 
I always add new daffodils to the hillside where I live. On a previous 
property, I once crawled under the chaparral and planted some near a 
seasonal spring.  That did make sense at the time, as both I and my 
daughters had a secret sitting place where they could be viewed when in 
bloom.  (I no longer crawl under chaparral, but sometimes miss the days 
I could!)  I've always wondered what future owners thought when they 
found them. 

    I would like to hear more about which bulbs can be moved outside in 
my 'colder than normal California' zone.  As I repot my rainlilies this 
year, I am putting a few out into my raised bed, starting with 
Habranthus.  Those that have gone out in previous years have done well 
and always show surprise blooms when in Aug-Sept. when everything else 
is becoming dry and sere. 
   Most bulbs (and many other plants) get planted into gopher baskets, 
as that is a big problem on uncleared land, which surrounds my living 
area.   Other bulbs have been chancy.  Lycoris radiata has divided into 
smaller plants, did not bloom last year or the squirrels ate the blooms 
before I saw them.  They are now in cages to protect from both gophers 
and squirrels.  The need to put wire around plants makes them less 
attractive, although if I have to put wire above the soil, I use the 
green coated stuff.  That helps, at least from a distance.
   Ipheon is a lovely little bulb that gets spread around the garden 
areas.  Either I do it when I plant annuals nearby, or the gophers carry 
them away and spit them out somewhere else.  They are a sweet little 
surprise when they bloom in an unexpected place. 
   Irises are also favorites.  I have planted many bearded Irises over 
the years and love their scent and colors.  The squirrels have really 
abused them the past three seasons, but I see (or rather hear) signs 
that coyotes are back and doing their job with those nasty 
garden-eaters!  I was really surprised to find one eating an Iris bud 
after the fire three years ago; there was no food for them in their 
normal dining areas.  They had never messed with the Irises before that. 
  One question I have always had is whether to plant them with the 
rhizome showing above the soil line or not.  I have read both pieces of 
advice in reputable sources.   I have tried both ways and can't really 
determine a difference.   I love the miniature Iris reticulata and all 
of its cultivars. I see one is available at Brent and Becky's Bulbs 
called 'Marguerite.'  It is definitely on my next order list.

And Calochortus is another favorite.  I don't try to plant it in the 
garden much, although I am starting a dry-sandy bed for Penstemons and 
may get a few in there.  C. concolor and C. splendens grow as natives 
all along my access road.  Spring can be lovely here when the 
wildflowers bloom.    We actually have had 7 inches of rain so far this 
season.  After a many-year drought, this may be a sign of a good 
wildflower year.  I am definitely hoping so!           Marguerite

Marguerite English: Gardening with Penstemons, Salvias, Xeric plants, 
Dianthus, Narcissus, Roses, and Irises at 3500 feet in zone 7B, 
mountains of Southern California.  I collect and grow tender plants and 
bulbs, especially Epiphyllum, Babiana, Lachenalia, Morea and 
Zephyranthes  in a covered  patio room.

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