August 27, 2007

Summer Bulbs in Containers

Surely not very exciting to most growers unless you are a collector, I share with you a collection of summer-growing South African bulbs.

Relatively rare, or at least, hard to obtain, these are bulbs that grow during our northern hemisphere summer, enjoying the frequent thunderstorms and heavy rains, as well as the bright, hot sunshine, which is essential along with fast drainage in an almost ridicoulously gravelly soil mix which makes the pots very heavy, but ensures little root rot.

From the left, a tiny pot of the tiny Nerine rehmannii, which look like grass, this is set into a larger pot of Boophane disticha, with it's fan of wavy leaves. I though I lost this precious bulb earlier in the year, since the bub was soft, and reduced in size, but then it surprized me with some growth. I am sure I will loose it this year, mostly because it is the most expensive bulb in this collection!.

Next to that is a bit of a mystery, lost lables are a nasty problem, thanks to the squirrels. This is perhaps Stenomesson piercii or ?? Regardless, that's what I am stiicking with for now....I am treating them as Stenomesson, and thusly, planting the bulbs deep, at the bottom of the pot and providing winter dryness, even though it is reportedly a winter grower. This seems to emerge and go dormant randomly, so I have decided to relax, and just stuck to pot outdoors for the summer, to see what would happen.

Afer this, a large, deep pot for the rare the summer growing Nerine, N. falcata, still a young bulb, but one of these years it will reward me with a blossom at the end of summer. More challenging than most Nerine, this bulb does not want to be disturbed, and needs hot summer temps and fast drainage to thrive.

This larger pot is Tulbaghia simmleri, a winter greenhouse blooming Tulbaghia not unlike T. violacea, but sweetly fragrant, not skunky like T. violacea, which I grow in pots too, because I actually like the scent of this 'Society Garlic". Skunky is good, and it reportedly keeps snakes away.

Lastly, ( I know, these all look the same!) are the pots of Cyrtanthus alatus x hybrids, that bloom for me every autumn with pendant, vermillion blooms that we love so much around the garden here at Greenwood. ( We are thinking of naming our garden, not to be pretentious, but simply Britishy, and, well, it seems like it is going to need a name, since it is growing most every day. So far, Greenwood is the name I am thinking of......Greenwood Street is the streeet at the end of our road, which is Spofford. But Greenwood provides a better garden name, and it is the main street leading to the city.

August 19, 2007

Samurai Orchid

Neofinetia falcata, or the Samurai Orchid, is a tiny, fragrant, and highly collectable orchid from Japan, where it has many fans, and clubs organized around this culurally meaningful orchid. In Japan, we visited tiny exclusive nurseries dedicated to growing this plant, as well as a few other collectable Japanese Orchids like Dendrobium moniliforme.

Although, selling for near $100. in the US, many rare forms and mutations in Japan sell for well over $100,000., but most in the $300 - $1500. range. Hence, elaborate pots are designed, and sold at Toyko orchid shows, and special growing techniques are exchanged at club meetings throughout Japan. The name comes from the legend that Samurai would wear these tiny orchids on thier belts, to symbolize thier strength and endurance, since these tiny jems bloom and grow on the outer islands of Japan. Neofinetia we're some of the earliest orchids grown by humans, where in Japan, during the Edo period in the 1600's, the present day culture began.

Today, you can grow these, for they are quire easy if you have a cool porch that doesn't freeze, or certainly a cold greenhouse. These are cold weather orchids, that don't go dormant, but that like to grow epiphytically, on the surface of fresh sphagnum, or a ball of sphagnum, and prefer to go dry and near freezing in the winter, and then warm and moist in the summer. This suits me fine, since I an keep a collection of Neofinetia in the greenhouse, virtually forgotten in the winter, on a high shelf near the glass where it stays cold, and then bring the plants out onto the deck in the summer, on wire racks, where the summer storms can drench them with rainwater.