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Friday, April 3, 2020

Fritillaria recurva

"One advantage in keeping a diary is that you become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer."
 Franz Kafka
This is probably the most lighthearted of the Kafka quotes I could have chosen. I used to read a lot of Kafka when I was an angst ridden teenager. Not so much anymore, I seem to drown myself in historical fiction or scientific writings these days. The time of existential suffering has perhaps left my life. Regardless, the truth in the quote is perfect for todays botanical subject. 

I haven't had Fritillaria recurva blooming in the nursery for probably 5 years or so. I thought I lost it in a series of hard late frosts, but It was also a time when I was experimenting with growing large specimen pots of bulbs and I suspect it could have also rotted, during one of the cold wet springs. So I got seed of it going again, but a few years back I was repotting some dormant bulbs and ran across a quart pot labeled F. recurva, it had a tiny bulblet just a squinch bigger than a rice grain and I potted that up and low and behold it flowered this year. 

Fritillaria recurva, the molten lava of Chocolate lilies

This one really stands out in a genus of mostly of brown, green and yellows.

Fritillaria recurva hails from South Western Oregon into Northern California, growing in Dry open woodlands, and Chaparrel habitat. I've always been curious about this being a purported parent of Fritillaria gentneri, and I've always wondered why someone didn't make the cross in cultivation to see if it can be made. So I have this one growing next to my Nicasio Reservoir  form of Fritillaria affinis and I've been playing bee pollinator with a paintbrush. I think the Nicassio reservoir may be a triploid though so not totally sure about the effectiveness of the project. Either way it shakes out I'm glad to see the little scarlet fritillary blooming again.

It hasn't felt much like spring with non stop cold soaking rain, but in between the showers I have been working in the rock garden, I made some gravel paths which are much better than the wood chips I had been using. I was treated to a pair of western meadowlarks singing and apparently nesting in the bamboo patch by the driveway. Next week looks to be better weather ahead.



Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fritillaria pontica

Between believing a thing and thinking you know is only a small step and quickly taken.
- "3,000 Years Among the Microbes"  Mark Twain

Fritillaria pontica
I often quote the ancient 3 volume Hardy Bulbs, by Charles Hervey Grey. While quite ancient, having been published in 1938. I find the entries on cultivation and habitat often quite intriguing.  Here is a few nuggets of what he has to offer on the subject of Fritillaria pontica

"Distributed in Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Asia Minor on wooded Hillsides.......It flowers in May-June, and should be grown in shade in light sandy soil. It is easily raised from seed, and is a most attractive plant. If grown in sun it is almost certain. to be cut down by spring frosts"

So a few observations of my own, it is certainly a great species for the shade, I've grown it out in a section of the rock garden, ephemerally shaded by a large Hawthorne when it leaves out, although for me it blooms well before the trees have leaved out, and it's usually gone quite dormant by the time the summer sun would be hitting that part of the garden.  I find the May-June flowering period off by several months, for me it blooms in the late half of March and into early April.

It's seemed quite frost hardy for me, having seen it through the epic winters  of 2009-10, when we saw temperatures down to 9 degrees in the bulb house.

The weather here has been all over the place, it's been raining pretty hard for the last week. Since we have been under the stay home save lives order of the great pandemic of 2020, I've been getting a lot of work done in the rock garden. Decided to move out some of the Penstemons and Spirea that had overgrown the front of the edge of the drive. I replaced them with Hebe's, red edged and a massive old Broughton Dome that came from Jane's place up above Estacada. Together with the New Zealand sedges it makes a rather nice biotype as if one where driving up a mountain road on the South Island when coming down the drive.



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Whats blooming March 24th

"Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented." Mark Twain, Eruption

These are strange times, but I'm great full for a garden and greenhouse full of flowers. I can escape around the world with a trip to the greenhouse, This week we journey to the Isle of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, to the Southern Mountains of Turkey, and down the coast of Syria to Lebanon. 

Fritillaria ionica

Fritillaria latakiensis

Fritillaria acmopetala
I enjoy going out in the late evening and catching the last moments of sunlight before dusk, filtered through the greenhouse film it makes a gentle backlight that I've found really shows off the colors that are hidden on a bright sunny day.

The weather has been interesting, hail, sun, rain, sun, sleet, sun, groppel, sun, that kind of a week for a Spring Break in Oregon. I've lived here a long time and I've found that if there is one thing you can count on is that it will not be sunny and warm during Spring break in Oregon. Probably for the best since we are sheltering in place to avoid the Covid-19. Not gonna say much about that, other than I have plenty of time to blog now.



Saturday, March 21, 2020

We made it to spring!

I spent one of the last days of winter visiting the garden of Kevin Vaughn, a local Narcissus, Sempervivum, Iris, Pulmonaria and Epimediium breeder. It was a beautiful day right before the vernal equinox. Kevin has some wonderful hybrids going. I was blown away by the diversity in his collection.

Kevin Vaughn and his breeding lines of Narcissus

Some wonderful pastels and bicolors in the program.

The diversity in Sempervivums Kevin is working with was outstanding. 

I loved the stacked concrete block raised beds, I'm needing to rebuild my rotting woodedn raised beds this summer and I think this is the way i'm going to go. 

A fun day of looking at flowers. 

Kevin starts all his seed in pots and I was amazed to see him doing his work with out the utility of a greenhouse. His plants looked very healthy and well adapted.

The weather has been beautiful this week, highs in the 60's and the garden's all around town springing to life. The ornamental cherries around town are all in full bloom, some of the crabapples are starting in. In my own garden the Nectarine is starting into bloom and I have a hive of honey bees that made it through the winter. The cherry orchard is about ready to bloom as well. 

This week brought the vernal equinox and the start of spring! 

Stay healthy!


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Whats Blooming March 14th 2020

"man starts in as a child and lives on diseases to the end as a regular diet."
                                                                             Mark Twain

The first decent snow of the season fell today as the world enters a quarantine for the corona virus. Seemed kind of fitting to get snowed in after a day spent waiting in lines for toilet paper and groceries. What a crazy world we are living in. 

Regardless, I took a snowy walk around the garden this morning. 

Fritillaria reuteri

Fritillaria ionica

Fritillaria pudica

Fritillaria latakiensis

Erythronium grandiflorum

Fritillaria raddeana

Iris graberiana 'White Falls'

 The weather has actually been pretty mild, and after a snowy morning, it's already 43 degrees, supposed to be a cold night down into the 20's and then next week is supposed to be in the 60's.

It looks like we are in a pandemic and the only way out is washing your hands and hoarding toilet paper. 

Good luck, 


Thursday, March 5, 2020

March 5th, 2020

-250 years ago on this day the Boston Massacare took place, and Crispus Attucks  a former slave became the fist casualty of American Revolution.

Why the history lesson? Well I spent the day at the Knight Libary in Eugene looking over a historical archive of a couple of outstanding landscape architects and I guess I was feeling kind of like a history buff looking through documents, nursery billing records, landscape plans, old plant lists and such from the 1920's and 30's. Today was a great day. Filled with sunshine that I could see through the massive glass windows of the library's reading room.

Bulbs, yes there are tons of bulbs blooming now, almost a new species popping into flower every day as soon as we hit March. It's a good time of the year to be a plantsman, or plants person. The Fritillaria are especially well represented this time of year.

Check out the Fritillaria affinis Vancouver island form looking spectacular:

Fritillaria affinis Vancouver Island form

Sometimes in the evening I get home just in time to catch the sunset through the greenhouse and the backlight makes for some great photo's.

The weather was spectacular! Highs in the upper 50's and sunshine, took a little stroll around the University of Oregon Campus at lunch and noticed the sunshine had everyone in good spirits. Back ot rain this evening though and highs in the 40's with some chilly evening temps, but it feels like spring is inching it's way into the valley.



Saturday, February 29, 2020

What's blooming on the last day of February?

“February - the month of love..?!!
No wonder the shortest one in the calendar.”
― Dinesh Kumar Biran

A quick walk through the garden and greenhouse on the last day of February, of course there is a lot more blooming than this but these made the biggest splash in the little pond. 

Iris reticulata backlit

Fritillaria latakiensis

Fritillaria raddeana

Fritillaria carica

Some grape hyacinths in the rock garden

The weather has been it's usual unpredictable self, it was in the 60's this past week and then the weekend arrived and it decided to spit cold rain from heaven. Lows in the upper 30's last night and quite a bit of rain came down, I'm kind of surprised it didn't snow a bit. I know everyone feels that one week of warm weather in February which you can almost always count on to give people the false sense of spring. But my years of gardening experience have taught me one thing, it's that March can be a a fickle month, prone to outbursts of arctic temperatures often followed by summer like sunshine. Don't think the winter has left quite yet.