December 26, 2006

The Diversity of White

White flowering bulbs from around our planet, show how hopefull the winter solstice can be. Just imagine a world without humans for a moment. In meadows from Iran to Turkey, to Iraq to South Africa - flowers are blooming that ignore borders, religion, politics and hatred.

Tiny bulbs like these winter growers are worth collecting and growing if you have a cool greenhouse with bright light. One will never suffer around the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, if one wakes up to a display like this with ones morning coffee during a holiday break from the office, it too reminds one that the world is special and rare too.

Note the early flowering Lachenalia viridiflora, a rarly found near white but truly teal-green flowering bulb from South Africa that balances out the rest of the Lachenalia which tend to be orange and yellow flowering, or weedy-white. It is one of those rare colors in the plant world, remarkably found in two south african bulbs - L. viridiflora and Ixia viridiflora.

Ornithogalum fimbriatum
This tiny member of the the Ornithogalum clan, a group of interesting yet still not widely known nor grown genus clustered in the Family Hyacynthaceae, is perfect for small pots, and blooms in cool to cold greenhouses in the winter. Slow to increase, it is not as common perhaps as other Ornithogalum's. like one would see as a cut flower at a florist shop, is low and dense growing, more alpine like, and thus, often grown in shallow alpine pots in a protected cold alpine house.
Native from the Ukraine to Turkey, this is a tiny bulb worth finding and cultivating if you have a spot for it.

Sure, the Holidays are basically over, but I wanted to share a small container that I brought back from Japan ( a sake box) that I filled with tidy rows of plant material gathered from the greenhouse, and from the garden in December. Aranged in floral foam, this small display should last for a few weeks.

Freesia fucata from seed

A few years ago I purchased a load of South African bulb seed from Silverhill seeds, and this year some are starting to bloom. As I have said before, if you have a cool greenhouse protected from frost, this is the most economical way if not the only way to get rare species that are not sold in the trade. The common Freesia may look liek this, but this species is a bit more precious, and authentic. This Freesia fucata grows on mountain slopes and hillsides in the southwestern part of the Cape, it is fragrant and flushed with violet marks, another of the Freesia that grow in the winter rainfall areas of the Cape in South Africa.

Mendera trigyna

This relative of the Colchicum is sometimes grouped with the fall and winter-blooming Colchicum, but from Armenia and Azerbajan to Northern Iran, and differs from Colchicum clearly because it has no tube, and has six segments.

Tulbaghia simmleri

Somtimes clossified as Tulbagia fragrans, this white and winter flowering species of the more common, T. violacea lacks the skunky-ness that gives this genus the common name of Society Garlic. Instead, the foliage is not scented, but the beautiful white blossoms are, and they come at the perfect time for such scent - winter. I know these are quite common in Claifornia and other warm areas, but in the Cold of a December winter in New England, they are welcome and quite special.


  1. Love your container (sake box) arrangement! Thanks!

  2. What gorgeous containers... and great post content!

  3. Lovely blog!! I will be back when I have more time to read.


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