September 6, 2006

The Rainy Season Begins

Nature has a way of managing cycles. Moon cycles, daylength cycles, temperature cycles, moisture cycles, even wildfires all combine to stimulate a chemical reaction within all lifeforms to grow, to hibernate, to reproduce, to feed, and to migrate. In plants, bulbs, in this case, one set of stimuli is the arrival of a rainy season, and around our planet, this is occuring and we have no control over it.

My African veld under glass
Since a good part of my bulb collection consists of species from summer dormant, winter growing areas of the southern hemisphere, like Afica or the Middle East, our New England autumn is the time to initiate the growing season with the comencement of watering. This is a landmark event in my horticultural season - the first watering of the winter bulbs. An event which I look forward to all summer.

Pots lined up and ready to have a single, deep soaking.
It's funny, becuase so many of my friends moan and groan about the end of summer, and the death and decay that autumn brings, yet one can also look to this season as a time of growth and renewal. We become so trapped in the marketing of Fall: Pumpkins, mums, scarecrows, fall foliage, especially here in New England, that from the front lawn displays to retail displays, one is swept up in a sea of orange and brown.

But there are so many other ways to look at autumn. I enjoy both, but I also know that most people don't realize that around the world, events are happening which we simple never notice. Of course, it is spring, in the Southern Hemisphere, that's a given. But even in Turkey, and Greece, the mountain meadows are violet with autumn crocus and Colchicum species. There are forests in Italy where the ground is pink with cyclamen species, jsut starting thier growing season, and a slew of autumn flowering narcissus are starting to bud, just as we are buying Halloween candy.
We all have a choice, on what we wish to notice or celebrate. I guess, I feel fortunate to have a greenhouse, where I can capture many of these events, all which add a new dimension to Autumn, and winter, or early spring.

November, around here is not only a time of Thanksgiving,Pilgrims, grey skys and cold temperature with a bit of snow, but it is also the time when in the greenhouse, the Narcissus romiexii are in full fragrant bloom, the Nerine sarniensis Exbury hybrids are in peak display with thier pinks, and magenta blossoms, and the hundreds of pots of bulbs from all over the world are starting to bud, for a succession of bloom throughout the winter.

But this all starts this weekend, with the first watering.
All summer, during spare moments, the dormant bulbs have been carefully repotted into new growing medium, generally a fast draining mix. Pots we're washed, sterilized, and bulbs were cleaned and repotted, and topdressed with gravel, and kept dry until the first week of September.

Nerine sarniensis hybrids getting a full watering to trigger fall bloom
The trigger for the autumn growth, come not only from increased moisture, but from cooler nightime temperatures. I like to wait until the night temperatures drop into the high 50's before commence watering. A single, deep and slow soaking them occurs, with the hose, and then the pots are not rewatered until growth starts showing, in about three weeks.

This treatment applies to most of my crazy collection, including the Narcissus species from Morocco and Turkey, (N. romieuxii, N. cantabricus, etc), and all of the miniature species of Narcissus that I keep in the cold greenhouse in pots; it includes all of the Cyclamen species from Europe, and all of the South African bulbs, including collections of Albuca, Lachenalia, Romulea, Fresia species,bulbous oxalis and Nerine species, to name a few.

1 comment :

  1. I can't wait to see the subsequent pictures!


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