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Posts Tagged ‘Bulbs’

This week it has taken a turn for fall the sun shines and the nights are much cooler. Finally there are touches of color developing in the leaves of trees, in the next few weeks the show of yellow, red and orange will be at their peak here. Gardeners are starting to remove spent annuals and cut down yellowing and bedraggled perennials. Some grasses such as Miscanthus are blooming while others are finnished waitng for the winter rains. Several plants are blooming as it is coming into thier summer, these are some of the bulbs from South Africa. One of the most showy is Nerine bowdenii (Guernsey Lily) and how beautiful it is.

The pink coloring of Nerine bowdenii makes it a favorite flower amoung many who grow it.

The pink coloring of Nerine bowdenii makes it a favorite flower amoung many who grow it.

Nerines are all found in Africa with 23 0f the species found in South Africa. There is some confusion as to exactly how many species there ranging between 25 and 30. We do know the plant Nerine is named for the Greek word ‘Nereis’ for sea nymph. Bowdenii comes from Athelstan Hall Cornish Bowden (1871-1942) who was born in Devon and went on to become the Government Land Surveyor of the Cape Colony which later became South Africa. In 1903 he brought his namesake plant back to England.

The strap-like foliage of these Nerine bowdenii bulbs is blended in with Acorus leaves.

The strap-like foliage of these Nerine bowdenii bulbs is blended in with Acorus leaves.

Nerine bowdenii is considered to be the most hardy of the known Nerine species. This is because it was originally found high(3000m or nearly 10000 ft.) in the  Drakensburg Mountains in north Natal. There it flowers in February to May. It is often found growing in cracks of  the stony cliffs and where a little soil and leaf mold has accumulated over time.

Nerine bowdenii is perfectly planted in the stony outcropping of the 'Terrace Gardens' at Government House in Victoria.

Nerine bowdenii is perfectly planted in the stony outcropping of the 'Terrace Gardens' at Government House in Victoria.

Many South African plants are relatively new to gardening and have been thought to be more tender than they have turned out to be. Here in Victoria and in the southern corner of British Columbia we have a very similar climate to parts of South Africa and have been lucky to enjoy a wide range of interesting plants which grow there.  We have a mild winter which is damp and warm to hot summers with a prolonged drought which is perfect for many bulbs such as Nerine bowdenii.

This clump of Nerine bowdenii is in the dappled shade at Finnerty Gardens.

This clump of Nerine bowdenii is in the dappled shade at Finnerty Gardens.

Nerine bowdenii is a fairly easy and adaptable plant to grow. Plant the bulbs close together with part of the bulb exposed like it is found in the wild. Grow it in any rich soil with good drainage so the bulbs do not sit it overly wet soil for long periods. When planting bulbs it is a good idea to add some bone meal for development of strong healthy roots. It is said that this species of Nerine can take -10(14f) temperatures easily. If you live in a colder climate grow your plants in a container which you may choose to sink into the ground and lift late in the fall to over-winter inside.

The typical Nerine bowdenii floral scape has up to a dozen flowers which are usually in a pink shade.

The typical Nerine bowdenii floral scape has up to a dozen flowers which are usually in a pink shade.

Several named selects can be found of Nerine bowdenii which are in pink shades as well as a white form. This plant is about 60cm(2ft) tall and has proved to be an excellent long lasting cut flower. The strap-like foliage is similar to that of Agapanthus and is an attractive mid green color. Propagation is by division of the bulbs or planting the fleshy seeds as soon as they become ripe. From seed to blooming bulb takes up to 6 years.

The bright pink Nerine bowdenii flowers against the maroon shades of this foliage is quite spectacular.

The bright pink Nerine bowdenii flowers against the maroon shades of this foliage is quite spectacular.

Noticing Nerines:

Pacific Bulb Society page on Nerines: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/nerine

Wiki has a good page on Nerine bowdenii: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerine_bowdenii

Nerines in South Africa: http://www.bulbsociety.org/GALLERY_OF_THE_WORLDS_BULBS/GRAPHICS/Nerine/Nerineprimer.html

…………….Hope to see you near here soon…………………

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This week I was planning to do a group of three related species. There was so much information on one species and not enough on another and I have changed my mind, some plants deserve an article all their own. The plant I have chosen is not very common here, but when you see it you will want it. Just yesterday in my research I stumbled across a entry about how this plant has been stolen from a well known public garden here in B.C. and the effect that can have on other people including students. The plant I am referring to is the ‘Crown Imperial‘ (Fritillaria imperialis).

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

The Crown Imperial comes to us by the route so many plants have followed, through Constantinople, in 1576  a plant was collected in Persia. From there a sample was taken by Clusius to the Imperial Collection in Vienna. In Vienna it is said to be given it’s common name by Alphonsus Pancus because it was grown in the Imperial Gardens there. Another version says it was named because it has ‘the true shape of the Imperial Crown’.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

Fritillaria imperialis are mainly native to south east Turkey but is found through western Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally resting in Kashmir. It is now found at 1000-3000 m(3300-9000ft) growing on rocky slopes and in the scrub.  In earlier times the orange-red blossoms where used as a source of dye coloring for the rugs which were made in the area.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Many historians feel that the Fritillaria imperialis was the plant refered to in the Greek myth of Hyacinthus.  Hyacinthus  was a beautiful young man, (possibly a Spartan Prince) who the god Apollo admired.  It was said that Apollo accidentally killed Hyacinthus when they were taking turns throwing a discus. Hyacinthus wanted to impress Apollo by running and catching the discus and instead was struck by it and died. Another form of the myth says that Zephyr, god of the west wind was feuding with Apollo over Hyacinthus,  when Apollo threw the discus Zephyr blew it off course which caused the accident.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

As Crown Imperials have been in cultivation such a long time, several varieties have been found and are now available to grow. Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ is yellow and is the oldest and dates back to 1665. Other forms are ‘Aurora’ which is orange-red, Rubra is the red form, ‘Premier’ is noted to be pale tangerine with purple tinged veins, ‘Argenteo Variegata’ has leaves which are edged in white and somber orange flowers and  ‘Orange Brilliant’ is said to be a rusty orange. All Fritillaria  have an unpleasant scent which people have said ranges from raw meat to wet fur to musty smelling, this helps to repel rodents who commonly decimate bulbs by eating them.  I have read several sources who say the scent really does work as rodents do not touch these bulbs.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

Fritillaria imperialis have bulbs which are noticeably bowl-shaped and because of this should be planted on their side so water will not sit in and rot them.  the bulbs should be planted  at least 10cm(4 in) deep and the spacing should be 22cm to 30cm(9 to 12 in). These bulbs do not like being moved except when the clumps become big enough to split up. If you live in a cold climate it might be a good idea to plant them in a container and then lift it for storage over the cold months.

Many Fritillaria have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

Many Fritillaria flowers have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

To get the best bloom give Fritillaria imperialis full sun during their growing season. Like many other bulbs they need lots of water when they are growing and very little when they are dormant. They like well-drained, rich soil with plenty of grit to assist drainage during wetter seasons. These impressive plants are quite hardy and rate between zones 5 through 9, -23 c(-10 f).

More about Crown Imperials:

The Wiki page is a good place to start:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritillaria_imperialis

Naming and history of plant: http://books.google.com/books?id=2AknHP_NRBgC&pg=PA74&sig=sdRm87XtnjBYNRRPGrhIvpGgzlI&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

The story of the stolen bulb and how it can effect us: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/03/fritillaria_imperialis_rubra_1.php

See you soon in a garden….

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When I was doing my Horticulture practicum in North Vancouver I saw many plants which were new to me. Some other plants were different, they grew more vigorously in the mild climate. I was introduced to some commonly grown plants which I was first seeing in a more wild form. One day when we taking a turn about the garden I spied a strange form of Tulip and asked what it was; I was told it was a species Tulip…much more delicate then the robust forms that are common at this time. I have been enamored of the dainty species Tulips ever since.

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Johann Strauss'

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Johann Strauss'

Many bulbs we are familiar with originate in the mountains of Central Asia and travel through Iran and Turkey and end up in eastern and southern Europe. Tulips fall exactly into this pattern. The species Tulips I am showing you today come mainly come from an area of Central Asia which is called the Tian Shan (Sky Mountains). It is part of the Himalayan orogenic belt which was formed when the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates collided and creates the highest mountain ranges in the world. It is also through this area that the Silk Roads of ancient commerce travelled.

 This group of Tulipa praetans are found high up in the Terrace Gardens at Government House.

This group of Tulipa praetans are found high up in the Terrace Gardens at Government House.

Tulips have come to us from those same commerce exchanges, this time from the Turkish court of Suleiman the Magnificent to the court of the Holy Roman Empire. They were brought by Ambassador Ogier Ghiselin de Bubecq. He had seen the flowers in his travels to Constantinople in 1554. We know the flowers grew in Augsburg in 1559 as they were described by Conrad Gessner. After that there was no turning back with the popularity of the flowers and they were soon in cultivation in the Nederlands. They became a symbol of luxury and were much  coveted by the wealthy.

Tulipa turkestanica has small starry flowers and a lax habit.

Tulipa turkestanica has small starry flowers and a lax habit.

Many Tulip species have been crossed with others, in some cases this happens in the wild where species ranges of growth overlap. In most cases crosses are done to produce larger flowers with strong stems and create new color ranges. Tulips cover a rainbow of colors from nearly blue through reds, oranges and yellows to creamy white and back into plums and violets. Every shade and variation within these colors is seen.

Tulipa clusiana var. 'Chrysantha', a form of the delicate Lady Tulip.

Tulipa clusiana var. 'Chrysantha', a form of the delicate Lady Tulip.

The orginal name for Tulip is leleh which is Persian. The French Tulipe is from the Turkish ‘tulbend’ which means turban.Turkish tulbend is corrupted form of Persian dulband also meaning turban. Tulipa is the Latinate form of this Turkish word. In English the word first appeared as Tuliphant and later changed to Tulip. Are you confused now?

Tulipa greigii 'Chopin', all greigii's have beautifully marked leaves.

Tulipa greigii 'Chopin', all greigii's have beautifully marked leaves.

These speices Tulips come from mountainous areas or the vast Steppes of Central Asia. many grow on rocky slopes or in scrub, others by streams which run early in the year and later dry up. Other species come from woodlands and are slightly more lush in their growth. they dot the slopes and grssy lands like jewels blooming briefly in the cool spring sunshine.

Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is also known as saxitilis and comes from the island of Crete. This is a light color form.

Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is also known as saxitilis and comes from the island of Crete. This is a light color form.

We are very fortunate that  many species Tulips are easy to find and as equally adaptable to grow in our gardens. Always buy your bulbs from a reputable dealer who does not get them from wild collected supplies. It is very important we protect all species of plants growing in the wild.

Tulipa kolpakowskiana  has a beautifully colored bud.

Tulipa kolpakowskiana has a beautifully colored bud.

It is best to grow all Tulips in rich, sandy well draining soil. The best flowers and foliage are produced by having a site which is in full sun. They need most watering during the spring when they are vigorously growing. Tulips do not like excess wetness when they are dormant over the summer into the winter. after flowering they should be left while their leaves die down and wither, after this the bulbs can be lifted and stored for later replanting. In warmer climates bulbs can be planted in the fall. Tulips generally are rated at zone 4-5  -25c(-20f).

Tulipa bakeri, a darker form.

Tulipa bakeri, a darker form.

Tulips make excellent container plants. For most impact plant bulbs in close groups. Species Tulips are generally small in overall height and should be placed near the front of a border. the are perfect in an alpine or rock garden.

Interesting Links For You:

Pacific Bulb Society has an excellent site for searching out new bulbs:http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Tulipa

Tulip history and the madness which happened:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

Central Asia, where so many of our treasured species come from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

Until we meet again along the flowering path…

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Growing up in the North, my experience with bulbs was limited. We could not grow many of the showy plants that came from bulbs or if we did we would have to dig them up and store them over the winter in the garage if we had one which did not freeze. This stopped many people from growing things like Gladiolas and other more showy and multicolored flowers. it is a pity. When I moved south to go to school I saw this incredible red orange type of tall sword leaved plant which looked like the for-mentioned Gladiolas. It was not that, but a fiery Crocosmia blooming during the hottest days of summer. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the most robust and showy of the bunch.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia(often called Montbretia) are a species of bulbs which are found in South Africa which has an extraordinary array of species, said to be the most in any area in the world. This genus is very small with only 12 species being named. it was named in 1851 by Jules Émile Planchon, who was a well known botanist who spent most of his career at the University of Montpelier as well as as the Royal Botanical Gardens in London.  Crocosmia are from the Iris(Iridaceae) family and this is particularly reflected in the upright spiky foliage. Crocosmia are grown from corms just like their close cousins Crocus and Gladiolas.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

There have now been an amazing 400 cultivars created with the best of them now fairly common throughout the world. They are easily reproduced from the corms which form chains of smaller ones which can be separated and grown into new chains or clumps. Crocosmias also set large amounts of fertile seed which is easy to germinate and grow into attractive new plants which will have bright red oranges to chrome yellows and every shade in between. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a selection which comes from Alan Bloom (1906-2005) who has named several other well known forms. Alan Bloom is a very important plantsman and over his career he introduced more than 200 new perennial cultivars into the gardens of the world from his nursery at Bressingham Hall  which later became the world famous Bressingham Gardens.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

‘Lucifer’ is said to be hybrid of Crocosmia and Curtonus which are often lumped together. It is unclear if it is a true hybrid between two closely allied plant genera or just a cross between 2 or more species in the Crocosmia genus only.  One thing is clear though, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is well named with it being the most brilliant of all colors. It also seems to be most vigorous  of the named Crocosmias I have seen; with the plants I photographed this week being as tall as me!

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is an easy chioce to add to your garden.  Crocosmia require average soil with medium moisture retention especially during their growing and blooming season which extends into later summer. To get an impressive show plant your corms in groups of 3 or more, about 3in( 7cm) deep, right side up.  They enjoy full sun to make their stems rigorous and strong. If they are happy new corms with form and clumps will expand and can easily be divided. When moving the plants it is important to make sure you get all the tiny corms which will reappear if not removed completely.  To keep them tidy, remove the spent flowers and cut off any browning foliage if it bothers you. Spider Mites are one pest which can be a problem here and can damage the foliage and flowers. They are hardy to -10c( 20f) and sailed through the winter here and look more spectacular than usual.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmias are stiff upright plants which work well in the back of boarders as well as used in mass plantings as you have seen. They often are used as specimens because they are so showy and standout from other plants at this time of the year. They look great with many other foliage plants and you can play with the flower colors. I like seeing white Shasta Daisies with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ because the whites are whiter and the red looks even more potent.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

More on Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and others.

Species Crocosmia and what thier is to know about them.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocosmia

Growing Crocosmias.  http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=H680

Bressingham gardens and the Blooms family http://www.bressinghamgardens.com/familyhistory.php

Alan Bloom who all plant lovers should know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bloom_(plantsman)

Until We Meet Again Later in the Week…..

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When I first moved here I did what I always do, travel around the less used roads to get a feeling for the area. This area is quite different from where I had moved from (greater Vancouver) and the pace is slower.  It feels more like the area I grew up in, more rural and yet near a big city. Every season brings new things to learn about and experience that are different from anywhere I have been. One of the wonders are the delicate Lilies which grow along the roads and are in bloom right now.  Here the Erythronium oregonum used to be called the Easter Lilly. Now we call them White Fawn or WhiteTrout Lillies.

Erythronium oreganum Known as the White Fawn Lily.

Erythronium oreganum Known as the White Fawn Lily.

Children would pick arm loads of White Fawn Lillies and give them to their teachers because they they grew in such massive quantities. In some places they still grow thickly. Along Southgate Street which parallels Beacon Hill Park is a densely growing area of them which are readily seen as you  walk or drive between Blanchard and Quadra Street. They are truly spectacular and many people who visit the area stop and ask what they are and then just have to take some pictures.

Erygonium oregonum along Southgate Street in Victoria.

Erygonium oregonum along Southgate Street in Victoria.

We are truly blessed on the west coast of North America with having 23 of the 27 known species of Erythronium. They range from pure white to a strong yellow as well as pink and shades of these colors. Vancouver Island has 4 species; oregonum and montanum are white, revolutum is pink and grandiflorum represents the yellows.  Erythronium oregonum is the most common around this area.

The Attractive Mottled Foliage of of the White Fawn Lily.

The Attractive Mottled Foliage of of the White Fawn Lily.

There are many things that make Erythronium oregonum a choice plant for anywhere it would grow, the delicate flowers which dangle down high above the foliage, the foliage itself with it’s lovely yet subtle green and maroon tones, and the delicate seedpods which blow in the wind and are the only sign later that this plant has been here at all.  It is said that ‘John Burroughs’ named the species ‘Fawn Lily’ because he felt the leaves reminded him of the ears of a fawn. Most People think the name refers to the mottled leaves which is similar to the spotting and streaking on young  fawns which help them to hide better from predators. I think the White Trout Lily name comes from similar reasons.

White Fawn Lillies Growing Along a Road in North Saanich.

White Fawn Lillies Growing Along a Road in North Saanich.

Erythronium oregonum is definitely a connoisseur plant which we all dream about having in our garden, having said that, I know this is not an easy plant to grow. If you are lucky enough to have them already in your yard, you are indeed blessed. Last year I found one coming up in a area I had planted 10 years before, what a surprise. I already see it is blooming this year in the same spot. I truly hope it will spread itself and grow amongst the maroon colored Hellebores I have planted in the same area.

Southgate Erygonium oregonum Lily Field.

Southgate Erygonium oregonum Lily Field.

White Fawn Lillies are best grown in a site like which they come from. These are plants which grow in dappled sun, under deciduous trees. They need lots of moisture in their growing season which is in the first part of the year and then drier for the time that the seeds are ripening(if you want them) which is June and later.  they are fairly tolerant of soil types as long as it’s not chalky and dry. They of course need rich soil which is well drained as these are very deeply rooted plants. It is best to acquire these plants form a reputable nursery which does not collect them from the wild.

The Delicate Highlights of Maroon and Yellow Seen in White Trout Lily Blosssoms.

The Delicate Highlights of Maroon and Yellow Seen in White Trout Lily Blossoms.

Many areas where Erythronium oregonum live are being bulldozed to make way for city and road growth, fortunately for us there have been many areas set aside for the protection of native species. We are also becoming more aware of the beauty in which we live in and more of us are respectful of the sites where these and other rare local plants live.  Right now amongst the White Fawn Lillies you might find the delicate magenta Dodecatheon blooming and then very soon it will be the spectacular blue Camas which takes over.

Links to This Week’s Featured Plant:

A list of all the Erythroium which grow throughout the world and links to pages about them.

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Erythronium

A little about growing Erythroniums and something about the meaning of the name.

http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/nativeplants/Erythronium_oregonum.html

Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. http://www.beaconhillpark.com/

Until We Meet Again Later This Week…..

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