September 18, 2011

The Autumn Spring


It's that time of year again, transition, both outdoors, and in the greenhouse. With out first cold blast of arctic air that arrived this weekend, the summer dormant bulbs, many from the high elevations of Turkey and Greece, as well as southern Africa, are all starting back into growth after getting their first "autumn rain" from the hose. I love this time of year, as the greenhouse begins to get active again, with a new flush of flowers and growth signifying the start of a new growing season somewhere on our planet.
Nerine sarniensis crosses are ready to rock and roll. These dainty members of the common amaryllis are rarely seen outside realm of collector gardeners, but for those in-the-know, they are precious and choice. This year they are emerging a little late for some reason, my guess is that the cool weather arrived a little late and suddenly it is cooler than normal.

Some Nerine are starting to send up flower buds, others, are still waiting. In a month, this bench will be a wash of pinks, reds and whites.

Brunsvigia is a rare South African bulb, and a challenge to get into bloom regardless of where one grows it, but in a container in New England, even more challenging. It looks as if I am going to have another lucky year as this B. bosmaniae sends out another flower stalk. More beautiful ( I think) than its larger cousin, B. katherenae,  this genus is very impressive in the wild - check out these images.

The container for both Brunsvigia are larger than one might think is needed. These bulbs have strong, deep root systems that never go dormant, since they are used to surviving in flood plains where rainfall is unpredictable or rare. The containers are very heavy, since the soil mixture is a special blend of sharp sand, garden loam and clay. No peat, perlite or organic material.

The inflorescence of this Brunsvigia species is much larger, but the flowers are smaller and I can't wait to see both blooming at the same time. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this B. josephinae may bloom for the first time this year, since I have had the bulb for 8 years, and it is very large, maybe 9 inches in diameter. A very nice specimen is currently blooming at the UBC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. I find it interesting how plants will bloom at exactly the same time around the planet.

Another Cyclamen, this one a tiny treasure from the mountains of Turkey, Cyclamen intaminatum alba - often the first to bloom in my collection. 

While looking at so many South African bulbs, there is this geophytic curiosity Avonia alstonii ssp. quinaria which is blooming in my cactus and succulent collection. I almost missed it. Not sure if the blossoms will open completely, I will most likely miss the event since I will be at work.


  1. How very cool. When spring bulbs are poke their heads up through the ground is my favorite time of year. And you get to enjoy that twice a year. Steve

  2. I love this blog and wish I had the time to check in more often. If only more people grew exotic bulbs indoors like you did! By the way, any idea where I can find that snazzy retro sans serif front you use, or at least a free/cheap replacement?


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