March 24, 2006

Sunbird Nirvana

Lachenalia and South African Bulbs in greenhouse
Cape bulbs in my greenhouse this week - where are the sunbirds?

If I was a sunbird, I could be darting between the late summer blossoms of the veldt at the tip of South Africa, pausing to slip my slender curved beak deep into sun warmed tubular blossoms to sip warm sweet nectar, which nature created just for me. Would I be at home in this northern hemisphere vernal spring? A not-so-sunny, and pretty chilly March afternoon? Perhaps, but outdoors, it is 25 degrees F. and not a flower to be seen except a few crocus and a snowdrop or two.

There seems to be a seasonal peak, even in glasshouses. Last March, I too had photos that we're quite similar to this, just with slightly different plant material. After all the confusion that exists about how to get a Clivia to bloom, isn't it interesting to note that once relocated to the greenhouse, our Clivia collection blooms on schedule,practically to the day. I assume that it has more to do with day length than temperature and water, since our plants are just about always damp.

The last flush late winter color from the South African bulb collection, include Lachenalia aloides "Nelsonii and L. aloides 'aurea' as well as the more colorful L. aloides quadracolor in the foreground, with a lone Aloe species. Behind that some of our crosses of Clivia, some lovely white Iris magnifica (although not South African), and two Velthiemia bracteata, including the uncommon yellow form 'Yellow Flame".

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