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Posts Tagged ‘striped flowers’

As I look out my window today I remember what it was like at this time of year; it is the middle of February and still the snow is falling and the piles of it are getting higher and higher. Back then any sunny day would make me anxious for spring to come with the brightly colored bulbs of yellow, purple, blue and even white poking through patches of bare soil. Yes I am speaking of the first flowers of this early spring here which have a big impact. The Crocus are running amuck through the city in the parks and yards and have even gone rogue in some places! I offer up to you the  group of Crocus hybrids sometimes called ‘Dutch Crocus’ to brighten your very early spring.

 These Dutch Crocus Hybrids have incredibly huge flowers, yet have a delicate quality.

These Dutch Crocus Hybrids have incredibly huge flowers, yet have a delicate quality.

There are about 80 different species of Crocus with many subspecies and varieties. Of that group only about 30 species are regularly grown by collectors and us regular people.There are 2 distinct groups ones which flowers in spring and those which bloom in autumn. Of the autumn group we would be familiar with Saffron Crocus which produce Saffron for culinary uses, the spice comes from collecting the stamens from the flowers. Crocus species originate from a large area from north Africa into south-central Europe all of Italy and eastern Europe to Russia and down through former Yugoslavia and Greece, crossing through Turkey and as far east as Afghanistan and south into the Middle East Asia. .

 Crocus 'Pickwick' is my favorite Dutch Crocus with its gloriously striped blossoms.

Crocus 'Pickwick' is my favorite Dutch Crocus with its gloriously striped blossoms.

Most of us are more familiar with the spring blooming named hybrids which are commonly called Dutch Crocus. This group of Crocus have been developed over several hundred years of careful selection of the best flower qualities. ‘Dutch’ Crocus are a group of hybrids which are primarily made up of crosses made from 5 species of which the 3 predominant are C. vernus(with the largest blooms), chrysanthus(color) and biflorus.

 Here Crocus have taken over a lawn at this time of year and have revert to a color which is similar to what they look in the wild.

Here Crocus have taken over a lawn at this time of year and have revert to a color which is similar to what they look in the wild.

No one really knows were these 3 species of Crocus began to hybridise as it is possible their paths crossed in the wild. Vernus is from the Pyrenees in Europe into Yugoslavia, Chrysanthus also is found in Yugoslavia Romania, Greece and into southern Turkey. From there biflorus is found in southern Greece into Turkey and as far east as northern Iran. We do know that several species of bulbs ended up being sent to Carolus Clusius at the Botanical Garden in Leiden in the mid 16th century.

 

The golden yellow color of Dutch Crocus early in the spring is one of the gaudiest sights in the garden.

The golden-yellow color of Dutch Crocus early in the spring is one of the gaudiest sights in the garden.

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621) specialized in painting flowers and included a golden Dutch Crocus in one of his paintings. By 1629 a yellow Crocus had made their way to England and were being written about.  By the early 1700s lists of bulbs were carefully cataloged with their prices by sellers of the product and more color forms we re becoming known.

 

 

 Crocus 'Remembrance' is an old clone with one of the darkest and richest colors.

Crocus 'Remembrance' is an old clone with one of the darkest and richest colors.

All Crocus species are generally easy to grow and adaptable to most soil types. The one thing Crocus hate is overly wet stagnant soil which causes the bulb to rot. To improve soil drainage add sharp sand.  If Crocus like where they are growing they will multiply by growing many tiny new bulbils which can be removed and replanted. Crocus should be planted at least 15cm(6 in.) apart and 5-8 cm(2-3 in.) deep in the ground. It is best to plant or replant bulbs in the fall 1-2 months before frosts come to the garden, this gives the bulbs a chance to start growing their roots firmly into the ground.

 

This is Crocus 'Snow Bunting', a cheery flower in which each petal base is bright yellow.

This is Crocus 'Snow Bunting', a cheery flower in which each petal base is bright yellow.

 

Dutch Crocus are fairly hardy and take about zone 5 (-29 c. or-20 f.) – temperatures with ease and if you give your plants so extra protection or more snow they can take even colder situations.  Crocus grow well in gardens and can be used as edging plants, accents or specimens in a winter garden. Crocus make excellent container plants and can be transferred into the garden later if you like. Another thing they can be used for is naturalizing in lawns and grassy areas, this is because they will grow and decline into dormancy before you need to do your first mowing. Here there are several parks where the plants have spread into the lawns and look spectacular at this time of the year, later people are unaware that they are walking over the areas where the bulbs have gone dormant.

 

Pacific Bulb Society have very detailed pages on many Crocus species: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocus

 

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder was a fantastic painter of flowers and floral displays: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrosius_Bosschaert

The Wiki page on Crocus is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus

……….Hope to see you around these pages soon………..

 

 

 

 

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When I started horticulture school in North Vancouver I learned many plants which I thought would grow in greenhouses here. I was surprised to learn over time that this area has the best climate and the widest range of plant materials of anywhere in the world. This is do to the mild climate, not too hot or cold. One plant which I saw during the winter which looked very plain and burst forth in incredible bloom at this time of year were Camellias and specifically Camellia japonica(Japanese Camellia). These flowers look so incredibly beautiful to me.

Camellia japonica 'Debutante'

Camellia japonica 'Debutante' is one of the most popular named cultivars seen here.

Who would not want to fall in love with these beautiful plants. Japanese Camellias come in colors ranging from the purest white through pinks and corals in to blood reds. Some are blotched while other blooms are lined or edged with contrasting color. Many flower forms from single to double with many variations in between add to the interest  when waiting for a newly discovered plant to bloom.

Camellia (Contessa) 'Lavina Maggi'

Camellia (Contessa) 'Lavina Maggi' is an old variety which originated in Italy in 1858.

Camellias have long been cultivated and hybridized in their native Japan. They are found in the wild growing in the woods and hills on down to sea level on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. 3 varieties are recognized there and it is related to the flower shape and structure. The lowland form has upright flowers with filaments joined for 1/3 to 1/2 their length. The upland form is subspecies(subsp.) rusticana(honda) and has a more open flower with the stamen fused only at the base. The third variety has large fruit which have thick walls and are variety(var.) macrocarpa and are found by the mountains  on south Shikoku  and Yakushima islands.

I found this interesting Camellia japonica form in Beacon Hill Park.

I found this interesting Camellia japonica form in Beacon Hill Park.

Japanese Camellia were first introduced to Europe in 1739 by Lord Petre.  Portugal was one of the first places where Camellias where grown and appreciated. Linnaeus named these plants after Joseph Camellus or Kamel (1661-1706) who was a Moravian Jesuit priest that travelled and wrote about the plants especially those on the island of Luzon in the Phillipines.

The  beautiful and unusual Camellia japonica 'Magnoliaeflora'

The beautiful and unusual Camellia japonica 'Magnoliaeflora'

When Japanese Camellias where first introduced in the England they were thought to not be hardy. Wealthy plant collectors would build special greenhouses to keep their collections in. Several of these buildings still exist and have plants which grow up to the roof in them, one famous example is at Chatsworth House, the home of famous plant collectors the Dukes of Devonshire.

I found this Camellia Japonica cultivar at Esquimalt Gorge Park where a famous Japanese Tea Gardens are.

I found this Camellia Japonica cultivar at Esquimalt Gorge Park where a famous Japanese Tea Gardens are.

From Europe the wonderful Japanese Camellia has been grown throughout the world. Australia and New Zealand now have well known hybridizers who have given new vigour in to developement of new flowers.  Some of the best newer Camellia are crosses with other species such as reticulata, and especially saluenensis which is more hardy.

Camellia x williamsii 'Donation', probably the most beautiful and sucessful  japonica x saluenensis cross.

Camellia x williamsii 'Donation', probably the most beautiful and sucessful japonica x saluenensis cross.

we are lucky that Japanese Camellias are very adaptable and easy to please. They can grow to very large sizes with time, up to 9m(30ft) in height and 4.5m wide, I have seen very large plants which are taller than a house here. Fortunately giant plants take many, many years as Camellias are considered to be slow growers. Japanese Camellias like early season sun but need to be protected from strong light later in the year, ideal situations are under or near large deciduous trees and other woodland sites.. They yellow and burn when the sun is too strong here. they also need to be sheltered from cold, freezing, drying winds as the early blooms can be damaged by frost.

Camellia japonica 'Jury's Yellow', a 1976 developement from New Zealand.

Camellia japonica 'Jury's Yellow', a 1976 developement from New Zealand.

Japanese Camellias like good slightly acidic or neutral soils with good spring moisture for when they are growing and producing their blooms and leaves. Camellias are used as specimens, container plants, accents or even as informal hedges. They fit into shrub borders and the back of perennial beds for color when the bulbs come up. They require little or no pruning and are extremely long lived, plants can live several hundred years.

This Camellia was formerly known as 'Lady Clare', we are now using its correct Japanese name 'Akashi-Gata'

This Camellia was formerly known as 'Lady Clare', we are now using its correct Japanese name 'Akashi-Gata'

Some interesting and ravishing places for you to look at:

An interesting Japanese site in English: http://homepage3.nifty.com/plantsandjapan/page021.html

A vast collection of pages and pictures to identify Camellias:http://www.camelieantiche.com/index.php?osCsid=d57514480eeb38224cef68ba02bb1b9d

An incredible slide show of the 2008 Spanish Camellia Show: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24923827@N07/sets/72157604207205187/show/

Wiki page on Camellia japonica: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camellia_japonica

Until we meet again soon….

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