Stormproof bulbs

Jane McGary
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 14:01:07 PDT
After a remarkably dry, warm winter (the jet stream stole our weather 
and took it to the other side of the Rocky Mountains), this weekend 
we in western Oregon have seen heavy rain and high wind. (It's still 
warm.) I went out to see how the front garden is doing just now, 
before hastening indoors for fear a large Douglas fir would fall over 
on me, and noticed how well the flowering bulbs are standing up to it.

The first that caught my eye was Iris bucharica, bright yellow 
flowers cheerfully upright and open atop a gravelly berm. In the same 
area I noticed Narcissus rupicola, Narcissus alpestris (I think; it 
came as N. moschatus), and a couple of taller Narcissus species. 
Erythronium grandiflorum and a neighboring geophyte, Dodecatheon 
clevelandii, stood up too. Muscari species are completely stormproof 
with their stout stems and little nodding florets, and not all of 
them are aggressive. In the flat part of the garden Erythronium 
hendersonii looks good, as do the delicate-appearing flowers of 
Corydalis 'Beth Evans'. Early Ranunculus and Anemone species close up 
a little in the dim light but seem undamaged, including Anemone 
blanda, Anemone nemorosa, Anemone palmata, Anemone appenina, and a 
couple of the mild-mannered Ranunculus ficaria double forms. Still in 
bud but well supported by their tall stems are Notholirion 
thomsonianum, Fritillaria amana, and Fritillaria acmopetala. Over in 
the bulb lawn the grass is helping support its later bloomers, such 
as Narcissus calcicola (don't be shocked; it got there as random 
seedlings) and low-growing Ornithogalum species that flower close to 
the ground. A little berm above that feature is displaying several 
Dodecatheon species from the Pacific Northwest. In the border many 
Fritillaria meleagris are up far enough to be raising their opening 
flowers; you will see that many Fritillaria species keep their stems 
bent over near ground level until on the point of opening, which may 
be a way of avoiding grazing animals. And across the road 
frontage,  a lot of cheap daffodils are still standing, except for 
'Cheerfulness', a double that I had to cut for the house.

It's nice to know that however refined our plants may look, they have 
evolved resistance to the storms of spring.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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