September 22, 2008

Vernally Speaking...

Colchicum make great and fragrant cut flowers, often lasting over a week in water ( even without water!).

No need for standing eggs on end, harvesting corn in fine clothes or dancing naked at mid-night Pagan festivals of fire and light, for mother nature herself clearly cannot keep a secret. Today's Autumnal Equinox was as expected as the market crash and the housing crisis - inevitable, yet still able to catch you off guard. The only difference was that the Equinox thing ended up with a bit less press.

Coconut scented Oxalis pockockiae, an autumn growing bulb from South Africa.

This is always the first Oxalis to bloom in the fall for me, and therefor it is a fav. On September afternoons when the air is crisp, and the strong sun make the greenhouse warm and bright, this little bulb always surprises my with its macaroon scented flowers. This pot started with a single bulb 6 years ago, and has slowly grown to produce this display of white blossoms. Hard to find, but worth growing in small pots - buy as many as you can afford, for a single flower is hardly a display.

Nerine sarniensis buds emerging weeks after a major repotting. Look at them all! I can't believe it. I wish this bulb was more available, very few retailers carry these in the United States, the majority of this collection came from England, and is comprised of nearly 20 named varieties.

I've been lax in updating and posting due to travel for work, a trip to Los Angeles, a wedding in Vermont and an off-site in the Berkshire mountains for creativity, all in two weeks time. I was eager to come home after a week away, for many plants in the collection were beginning to start growth. This year is never made the time to repot the Oxalis and Narcissus collections, only a few N. romieuxii made the cut. I focused instead on the Nerine sarniensis, which I have been rather lazy with, in the repotting department. My excuse is that it was an 'experiment' to keep the bulbs in 6 inch square pots, where they nested up nicely with offsets, seeing if the crowded conditions would help. Many growers insist that Nerine sarniensis require small pots and tight conditions that are lean. I have had good luck with growing these notoriously fussy bloomers, but now that my pots are jam-packed with bulbs, I decided to repot the larger ones separately. To my surprise, most are blooming, in fact, some names cultivars which only sent one bud per pot of 5 or six mature bulbs, are now each sending up a bud. I can't help but wonder if the repotting each bulb separately has triggered them to bloom, Reinforcing this observation, the pots that I did not get to repot, are still only sending up one bud stem, even though the pot may contain 3 or 4 mature bulbs. I will need to experiment more with this theory.

A rare Autumnal blooming newbie in my collection, Allium callimischon ssp. haemostictum from Crete, blooming in the alpine house.

This is a rarer form apparently of Allium callimischon ssp. callimischon, but I am not convinced that it is not the same sub species. If anyone is an Alliumphile, please share your thoughts. When I match my image up with on-line images, this does look like a distinct sub-species, since it has spots on the petals. According to Paul Christian this fall blooming species is smaller than the type, and more recommended for growing in pans in a glasshouse with some protection. The flower buds form in the spring, yet remain dormant until autumn. Although, it may be hardy here, I have little reference material on Allium, although I know that John Lonsdale grows ssp. callimischon in his amazing Pennsylvania garden, Edgewood.

FIrst Frost warning happened last night, so we picked all of the tomatoes. The frost never arrived, but temps did fall into the forties.These colder temperatures are welcome, as far as I am concerned, for they are one of the triggers that help break the dormancy with the winter growing bulbs that make up most of my collection.

In the greenhouse, the Cyclamen species started sending up thier flower buds earlier this year, some C. hederafolium began blooming in early August, but the peak is certainly now with the majority of the autumnal species blooming such as the other two species that bloom now...C. graecum and C. rohlfsianum.

Various Cyclamen species blooming on the deck display steps.

The 'lovely' combination of lavender Colchicum and rusty orange Marigolds.....nothing says autumn, uglier! Sometimes accidents are indeed, accidents.

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