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Friday, March 17, 2017

A Message From The Grower.



This Spring has been an interesting one, constant rainfall and lower then usual temperatures, with very few of the sunny, warm days that we all slug through the winter here for.

But the bulbs are coming up strong now and despite having to fight a few more fungal issues like botrytis then I usually do it's looking like a productive growing season is coming on.

So last year when I posted up the bulb list I think the amazing amount of traffic caused the blog site to crash. I don't want to repeat that this year because I'm sure I lost customers because of it. So I'm considering getting an actual website to host the catalog. I've been pretty resistant to this because I operate this nursery on a cash basis and the added cost of maintaining a website and such is just another expense that up until last year hadn't been justified because the blog was working fine. So I'll keep folks updated on that if I decide to go that way. The other option is going back to an email list format, whereby folks can request a catalog and be added in to receive a mailing. This is more work for me and less desirable but remains on the table as an option.

In other news, I've had the plans and some materials for a climate controlled greenhouse in the works for a while now. I'm hoping this is the year that it comes to pass. Global Climate Change is a real thing that is happening and I've lived in this little part of Oregon for more than 3 decades now and I will tell you that I have seen the climate changing. We get more intense rain storms with colder temperatures in the winter and the summers have been far hotter and drier.

So hopefully adding a climate controlled greenhouse will give me an opportunity to expand the range of some of the species I'm growing. I've had a long fascination with some of the less hardy South African stuff, but I learned my lesson the first few years in the frost pocket that they won't make it here without better winter protection.

I'm hoping to continue expanding the bulb displays in the new rock garden this year as well. Anya has been busy sowing vegetable seeds in the little available space we have as well which we are working with a non-profit that is raising funds for feeding staving folks who are victims of a brutal regime in North Korea.

Thanks for all the support that the loyal and new customers have provided over the years, it's been fun to grow the nursery and continue the passion for the rare and unusual plants that I love so much.

Happy St. Patricks Day,

Mark Akimoff
Illahe Rare Bulbs
at Illahe Nursery and Gardens.
Salem, Oregon.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fritillaria kotschyana

Fritillaria kotschyana

Mr. Grey whose early three volume work on Hardy Bulbs I quote a lot, has this as Fritillaria latifolia var. kotschyana and says this " Found in Northern Persia on Mount Elbuz and in the mountains above Asterabad, The leaves are narrower, the upper leaves linear, neither opposite nor ternate; The flowers vinous purple, more distinctly tessalated."

I like to look for some of the early descriptions, since botanist seem to be always jostling plants around, and so many genes have been mixed over the years from outcrossing, I feel like the early descriptions sometime capture the essence of a species better...........if that makes sense, I also love the location descriptions from so long ago. Does this species no longer grow in Persia?


Fritillaria kotschyana

One of the easy early ones that increases well and fortunately given how wet this year has been isn't as prone to botrytis as some of the others. I have been doing a fixed copper spray on sporadic patches of the grey stuff rearing it's early head now and then. I added a fan and opened the greenhouse south end wall for some better ventilation as this torrential rain doesn't seem to want to end any time soon.

Rainy, wet and a flood warning on for the local creeks today.

Cheers,
Mark

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring forward!

Crocus hueffelianus ssp. scepusciensis

I have mentioned before how much I hate daylight savings time. Well it was the spring forward weekend and apparently the weather finally got the memo. The sun was shining enough this weekend to open some of the Crocus in the open plunge frames. 

I should note that I have grown this under the name C. scepusciensis. But in reading Janis Ruksans book on Crocus, he regards the populations of this plant from Poland to be on the subspecific level. 

Sunny and warm for a few days this past weekend. Sure was nice to feel that warm glow after such a cold and long winter. 

Cheers,
Mark

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fritillaria obliqua

Fritillaria obliqua

Charles Hervey Grey wrote about F. obliqua "It flowers in March-April, and should be grown in a sheltered position in very gritty, welldrained soil, it is not I think an easy plant to establish although it does extremely well in gardens where conditions suit it"
Fritillaria obliqua

I've written before about how I just love the sinister,  deep black flowers, although in the right light they have this almost reddish, brown, darkness that is like congealed blood.

From Greece, these are some of the earliest Frittilaria for me in the greenhouse. I would agree with the sentiment about gritty, well drained soil. I usually don't ever skimp on the pumice and I've had these rot off at the base before. They are doing fine this year, but I'm sure they could benefit from more airflow.

Sun breaks today! The first dry day after a week that saw 3 inches of rain in the valley. I think everyone around here is ready for some sunny warm, spring like days. 

Cheers, 
Mark


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Stink Bells 2017

Fritillaria agrestis
The California Stink Bells are blooming now, filling the greenhouse with the pungent smell of a rotting corpse. This winter has certainly been colder and harsher in most respects but the earliest of the Californian species that I grow doesn't seems to notice, with the pungence more noticeable during the infrequent sun breaks that have accompanied the latest storm.

I keep telling myself I'm going to plant a large display pot of these for entrance into the pot shows!! But I never do, thinking it probably best not to stink out the club houses.

Rain, windy, very windy today with squalls topping the Jackson hill ridge at around 40 mph. Blew open the South greenhouse door several times.

Mark

This winter will not end

Chinodoxa 'valentines day'
Toughing it out in the garden beds, it had a foot of snow on it yesterday. 
Anemone blanda 'Ingramii'
36
From Mt. Parnassus in Southern Greece, this one has some really great deep violet blue flowers, I can't wait to get it into the rock garden offset with some of the early yellow crocus.

Chilly, 36 and rainy, a foot of snow that fell yesterday is slowly melting off. 

Cheers, 
Mark

Sunday, March 5, 2017

5 minute weather patterns

The property here at Illahe was an old cherry orchard, and this corner has a pretty long and storied past. A pretty extensive research at the historical society about the house and property seems to turn up that the house was actually a prune drying shed that was added onto sometime around World War I. Years before that this area was actually a stop on the high road out of Salem, to change horses before you dove off the hills toward the Albany lowlands, and Sidney, and Talbot. It didn't have much for landscaping before I bought it but an old rose bush, and a few clumps of snowdrops and this one little clump of crocus growing in the lawn. I moved them out to a landscape bed. Its fun to see them come back every year and wonder what the story was, how someone ended up planting a little clump of Crocus' out in the lawn, was it 10 years before my time or a 100?
Crocus kosaninnii
From Lowland Oak and Hawthorne habitat in Serbia.

The habitat description I've seen for this species reminds me a lot of Western Oregon, just different species of Oaks and Hawthornes. We are well into the season of 5 minute weather patterns now, Oregon gets rain, snow, hail, sun, clouds and clearing all in 5 minute increments all day long some times in the spring. 



The Bulbs in the greenhouse don't seem to mix of sun and clouds, you can almost watch some of the Crocus open and close with the shifting weather.



Double post today because it's a stormy sunday and I took a bunch of pictures.

Cheers,
Mark

Fritillaria pudica-The Clone Wars



Fritillaria pudica
John Day Large Form

In Charles Hervey Grey's seminal three volume set Hardy Bulbs his description of Fritillaria pudica describes it as"One of the most delightful of all spring flowering bulbs and should be planted in colonies in every sunny, well drained, gritty rock garden.". He goes onto state that Baker claimed the stem may be up to 9" long, but Mr. Grey disputes that saying he has grown them for many years. I'm sure they must have had one of the different forms they were growing. The form above from Oregon's John Day River area is my tallest clone, also lacking any of the darker coloring some of the clones take on near the base of the flower segments. 

Fritillaria pudica 'Richard Britten'
Of all my forms, this has the largest flowers on the stoutest, shortest stems, It really seems a very different plant in cultivation then some of my wild forms. Although remarkably it reminds me more of the wild types I have seen especially toward the East end of the Columbia River Gorge, where no doubt the the effects of the  wind blasted, freezer door of transitioning from the great basin like climate of  Eastern Oregon along a river corridoor that for eons has eroded it's way through the Cascade mountains, may play a role in the short stature and tough overall appearance.



Fritillaria pudica
No name on this clone yet, but it's the fastest increasing, typical form, with stems about 4" tall. A really deep, ripe lemon yellow color to it makes it a spring standout. The mature bulbs seem to produce thousands of offsets every year. It

So there are three of the early Fritillaria pudica clones blooming now, they start early in late Feburary and  continue into early March. I have several others in the raised beds that are a bit behind. 

Cultural notes:The standard composted cow manure and pumice blend has worked well for all the different clones, the key point to pudica is that it can stand  fair bit of drying out. Having shipped a number of the Western Fritillaria species for some years now. Observation has shown these will handle dry storage the best of them all. So probably for folks with a wetter summer climate, some protection would be advised. A general application of 20-20-20 I make several times before these begin into bloom depending on the weather and what the temperatures seem to run for the late winter, early spring season. 

It was snowing this morning, temps in the 30's all day, yesterday was nice and today offers sunbreaks in the forecast but supposedly accumulating snow tonight. 

Cheers,
Mark
































Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Archibald Seeds-Iranian Fritillaria's of the Crassifolia complex



Here are some better pictures of the Iranian collection.

JJA 17255
From the Archibald catalog for JJA 17255:

Iran, Kordestan, SW of Daraki (S of Marivan). 2500m. SW-facing limestone slope. #2nd pic (This coll. has to be almost precisely on Wendelbo’s Iranian locality for F. crassifolia subsp. poluninii but this is a big, robust plant about 25cm. high with up to four flowers. The first thought was that it had to be something to do with F. straussii but the leaves are alternate, neither paired nor whorled. It may be best to consider it a new taxon in the F. crassifolia complex. Oleg Polunin collected a herbarium specimen of a similar plant in Iraq in the 1950's (at the same time as the type-collection of F.c. subsp. poluninii) but it has been ignored (maybe because he recounts that his herbarium sheets blew away & the data may be muddled). This area, high in the mountains right on the Iraq-Iran border, has long been inaccessible & is still virtually uncollected. We doubt that it would be possible to repeat our visit. Perhaps "F. crassifolia subsp. axis-mali" might be a currently appropriate name)

JJA 17242:

JJA 17242
From the Seed Catalog:

17242 : FRITILLARIA SP. Iran, Kordestan, E of Shuysheh (SE of Marivan). 1750m. Open shale slopes.


JJA 17242
Note the variability in the seed grown specimens:
This one has less yellow on the outer segments and more tessellated patterning. The leaves are larger and have more of a bluish bloom to them as well, overall it's a larger plant in general. I'm going to isolate the clones from this seed selection this year, so these will not be up for sale.  Maybe some smaller offsets and seeds in the catalog though. I'm still waiting for the monograph because it would be good to sort these out, Does anyone have some information on naming conventions for clonal selections of variable seed grown unidentified specimens?

Cultural notes:
I have grown these in my standard composted cow manure and pumice blend and they seem to do very well, over the last few years I've included smaller amounts of a sandy loam topsoil to retain a slightly higher moisture content in the pots since I've moved to production in a Gage Durapot 505. These are smaller pots that drain well, but with record hot temperatures the past several summers, I think the addition of some loam helps to insulate the bulbs better from the really dry summer heat here in Western Oregon.

Image result for Iran, Kordestan, E of Shuysheh (SE of Marivan).

Here is a photo I could find of the habitat associated with these locations, it's interesting how they state this location is hard to access and difficult to collect in. I guess that makes these bulbs super valuable!



Still chilly and cold, the weatherman says temps are below average for this time of year. 42 and drizzly today.  

Cheers, 
Mark