Spring off to a slow start

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 26 Mar 2009 09:52:03 PDT
Jim wrote,

The plant of Fritillaria raddeana mentioned above came from Jane McGary in
>2005. It has bloomed here yearly since. It's never been more than about 10
>inches or so high and grows from a bulb about the size of a walnut. Last
>fall I ordered some bulbs of Fritillaria raddeana from one of the big bulb
>houses. The bulbs I received were comparatively huge - like bulbs of
>Fritillaria imperialis.

The bulb should be bigger by now. The ones I sent out were young ones 
that I did not expect to be quite flowering size. Jim should be sure 
to fertilize his plant and give it enough room. It is not a species 
that is content in a 6-inch pot. It should be kept pretty dry in 
summer. My mature bulbs are about 8 cm in diameter.

Dutch bulbs of all kinds are typically larger than domestically grown 
ones because they are experts in growing them quickly, with plenty of 
fertilizer. Whether these are healthier than our home-grown ones is, 
however, debatable. I've avoided introducing commercial Fritillaria 
bulbs into my collection because I've noticed signs of virus 
infection in some. It's likely that the same viruses that affect 
lilies and tulips also affect frits.

Regarding Jim's squirrel problems, I find that it is easy to catch 
squirrels and chipmunks in live ("Havahart") traps. They can then be 
transported several miles away and released, if you want to be nice 
to them. I bait the traps with sunflower seeds and scatter a few 
seeds outside to get them started in. When I move to the city I'll be 
facing the same kind of squirrels Jim has in Maryland, because some 
idiot introduced the eastern gray squirrel in Portland, Oregon years 
ago. It has driven out the native small brown Douglas squirrel, which 
is the species I have here in the foothills. Both are real pests in 
the bulb garden. It's true that once you remove squirrels from a 
garden, more will eventually come in, but I think it takes them a 
while to realize what a grand buffet the gardener has available to them.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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