Blooming mid February

Michael Mace michaelcmace@gmail.com
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 20:20:26 PST
Luminita wrote:

 

>People!!!   We have feet of snow on the ground, more in the forecast.

 

Yeah, that's why I've been holding back on posting a status report. Now
Gastil's got me going, but before I talk about what's in bloom here, I want
to say that I have enormous respect for folks who manage to make bulbs grow
in places where they wouldn't survive naturally. You're the real gardeners,
in my opinion.

 

Oh, and remember a few months from now when you're having a nice green
relaxing summer, everything here will be brown and dry, and we'll be saving
shower water in buckets.

 

In the meantime, here's what's blooming at my place in California...

 

The South African Gladiolus have been performing well, both species and
hybrids. Gladiolus patersoniae is just finishing. Its flowers are dainty
funnels, speckled in the throat, in shades of pale violet and ice blue. G.
watsonius is at the peak of bloom, bright orange-red flowers that look like
a miniature Watsonia. Now in bud is G. bonaspei, which has incredibly
beautiful red-orange-yellow flowers. It's only bloomed for me once before,
but this year I moved it into a raised bed and two corms have bloom stalks.
I can't wait.

 

There are probably about 15-20 different Gladiolus hybrids in bloom, the
offspring of crosses between G. priorii, odoratus, gracilis,
violaceo-lineatus, watsonius, carmineus, tristis, and several other species.
As usual for hybrids, many are so-so in terms of color and shape, but a few
are especially beautiful. Among the ones blooming now, one is a deeper red
hybrid of G. watsonius, one is tall and the color of an orange creamsicle
with dark red stripes in the throat, and two are mostly white with dark
colors at the tepal tips, one magenta and one dark purple. Several of the
hybrids are strongly scented, so as you walk around near the pots and beds
you get random blasts of a pleasant sweet smell.

 

Another interesting bulb in bloom is Ferraria ferrariola, which looks like a
pale green and purple octopus.

 

The early Moraeas are also blooming, including M. ciliata (in blue and pale
brown), M. tricolor (purple and salmon colored forms), and M. macronyx (pure
crystal white and vivid lemon yellow). Unfortunately these flowers last only
a day, but the plants bloom for several weeks. I also have a few remaining
flowers on M. polystachya (it's been in bloom since October), and a big
surprise: M. speciosa, a desert species that rarely blooms for me. I
probably have about a dozen bulbs of that one, but half of them don't even
put up leaves in a given year, and it's rare for any of them to bloom. But
one did this year, another new transfer to a raised bed.

 

The other Moraea species currently in bloom is M. thomasiae, which has a
pale yellow flower marked with thin dark lines. It's a relative of the
Peacock Moraeas, not as spectacular as them but apparently fertile with some
of them in the few experiments I've done so far. I haven't had a lot of
flowers from it in the past, but this year I moved it into a bed and four
corms are blooming (are you sensing a pattern here?).

 

Among Moraea hybrids, the cross of speciosa X polystachya has been blooming
gangbusters for a couple of months, and shows no signs of stopping. Usually
it's finished off early by frost and/or heavy rain, but this year we've had
neither, so it is blooming its head off. Alas, it hasn't set a single seed,
and I've been trying a lot of crosses.

 

But my favorite Moraea hybrid at the moment is tripetala X macronyx, a cross
I've numbered MM 12-55. One of the plants from this cross has flowers that
are bright yellow and deep red, a color combination that glows in direct
sun. I like this one so much that I think I'll name it "Burning Embers."
I'll enclose a photo so you can decide if the name is appropriate.

 

Most of my bulbs have only leaves so far, and some are showing buds. The
unusually warm and dry winter here seems to be making some plants bloom
early and with fewer buds, so I'm expecting a short but intense blooming
season. In the meantime, the early arrivals are fun.

 

Mike

San Jose, CA

Zone 9, min temp 20F / -7C

 

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