Thursday, August 17, 2017

Primula vulgaris

When you see plants in your garden flowering and growing, all kinds of memories come flooding back, whether it is people or places. When I see Primula vulgaris flowering, I think of the Burren in Ireland, but mostly I think of a walk in Scotland we did. In Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve. It is a very peaceful place, we were the only ones walking, so we decided just to walk along the creek, I'm not sure what the Scots call a creek, but thats what we called it. Primula vulgaris, not many plants were growing out in the open, but tucked away under small, sheltered, rock ledges. They are revegetating the area  and the trees have probably grown since we were there. See what you think of the scenery, click on pictures to enlarge.
My Primula vulgaris is in a large 40cm glazed pot, that stays cool in the summer months and I top dress it each summer and feed with a granula fertiliser.

Anemone nemorosa was flowering every where it was out in the open, exposed to the weather conditions, covered in flower.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Late Winter Flowers

Every morning out with a cup of tea and it is freezing, but I can't wait to see what has come up, and is coming into flower, it is just the most exciting time when you love bulbs as much as I do. Narcissus Mondieu bred by Glenbrook bulbs a gift from Fermi in 2006 but this year it has come into its own, large wide flared cups gorgeous only about 3inches, 8cm high. Click on pictures to see full size.

 Another Glenbrook bulbacodium Narcissus kholmes Rod says "A very nice sibling to the more famous Smarple and Spoirot, goblet shaped petticoats on reasonable tall stems. Easy grower good for shows and garden." 18cm for me and has multiplied beautifully.

I can not seem to get a photo to scale this is only 7cm in height and the smallest Narcissus asturiensis I have ever grown with a twist to the petals. It is from Brian Duncan seed from Ireland and it was collected in 2012 in Gouveia, Portugul coll. No 8N232 the best yet. There is always so much variety from wild collected seed.

Crocus tommasinianus Pictus purple tip, you can say what you like about C. tommasinianus but they are relatively easy to grow, put on the best display, everyone admires them, they are just beautiful. Friends and husband just have to stop and admire them.

These are the buds of Crocus tommasinianus Pictus the out side markings are just as lovely. This lot are from Otto.

Crocus heuffelianus Lilac Wonder from Otto an import from Ruksans.

Bulbous Iris are another plant that we can grow relatively easily in Australia, in a well drained soil and quite a bit of sunshine. The first is Iris histrioides ssp aintabensis. I find they grow better for me in the garden, but Jon grows his beautifully in pots and has grown a lot of the new ones from seed from the Canadian breeder Alan Mc Murtrie. Palmero and Verity were the first people to bring to my attention Alan McMurtrie from the Plantsman magazine of his startling new coloured varieties. I think many years ago Fermi and I had bought seed from him but I had not seen any pictures, we are talking before the internet. I did not have a great deal of success then, but I think we know a lot more about seed raising now and have a higher success rate amongst our members.

Iris reticulata Alida is widely available in Victoria, easy to grow and multiplies well.

Iris reticulata Cantab.

Iris reticulata George.

This photo I took in Otto's garden, this one is from Lamley Nursery, David Glen, Iris histrioides Lady Stanley.

Iris Katharine Hodgkin this Iris grows extremely well for me in with Cyclamen graecum, but it does not need such a baking as Cyclamen graecum the leaves protect it from the worst of the summer heat and sun. A hybrid between I. danfordiae x I. histrioides bred by E B Anderson who was one of the founding members of the AGS UK he was president in 1948 -1953, he launched the seed exchange.
Bertrum Anderson never had enough spare cash to buy the plants he wanted, so he propagated a few choice plants to sell. Sound familiar. He named the Iris after the wife of his great friend Eliot Hodgkin.

Iris reticulata Springtime.

Iris reticulata Violet Beauty when Jon was repotting his Iris he kindly bought in the remaining Iris for our group.

 Iris danfordiae coll. Sivas Gurum, Turkey Archibald seed grown by Otto. I. danfordiae is not the easiest bulbous Iris to grow but Otto say's this is a better grower for him, it is smaller but vigorous and flowers each year. Alan McMurtrie talks about "this poor performance is characteristic of the sterile, triploid commercial form of I. danfordiae, It was presumably selected because of its larger flowers than diploid forms." But in 1985 Alan was fortunate to collect I. danfordiae in Turkey near Darbogaz he found it to be a fertile diploid form of the species. It produces numerous bulblets but is vigorous enough to flower every year. Which aides in his breading program. I wonder if Otto's form is the same as Alans.  

Iris reticulata Pixie from Glenbrook Nursery.

Iris reticulata Joyce from Mr Bob Nelson when he grew a large selection of these bulbous Iris. Very similar to I. reticulata Harmony but has a narrower fall, but the markings are very similar.

Iris reticulata Harmony is readily available in Australia.

Iris reticulata Purple Gem also from Glenbrook Nursery.

A hardy little shrub for full sun Chaenomeles japonica Chojubai used in Bonsai, Craige from Gentiana Nursery.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Crocus harveyii

At one of our meetings Otto mentioned that a new Crocus had been named after Marcus Harvey, Crocus harveyii. So I decided to try to find out more about this Crocus because now we have 2 Crocus spiecies named after 2 Australian bulb men. Quite unusual considering we have no Crocus species native to Australia and we are a long way from Europe, and Crocus plants are usually named after people from that area. Hopefully we will all be growing Crocus fauseri and Crocus harveyii in our gardens one day.
Otto forwarded Susan's blog so that I could read about Crocus harveyii. 

Exert from Susan's blog.
"Marcus and I went to Ikaria in 2012 specifically to collect Galanthus ikariae seed. We combed the island, up hill and down dale, for a couple of days, finally finding a large patch of Galanthus that had just suffered a massive hailstorm. To our disappointment we found hardly any Galanthus seed, maybe a bad year for pollination. 
On the way back over the mountain ridge we stopped to hunt for that Crocus biflorus ssp. nubigena as Janis had specifically asked Marcus about it when he knew we were going to Ikaria.  We found a reasonable quantity and Marcus immediately posted a portion of the seed off to Janis -- 5 years later Janis announced it as a new species, Crocus harveyii. Strange to think when we were scrambling around on that ridge in Ikaria, a small delightful Greek Island collecting the seed, we had no idea that 5 years later it would carry Marcus's name."

Crocus harveyii flowers February-March.
From Greece Ikaria Island, Plagia Pass growing on sandy-stoney schistose ground with low shrubs.

Photo's curtousy of Janis Ruksans and Habitat photo Susan Jarick.
Mostly thank you to Susan Jarick for allowing us to publish the above.
Full article by Janis Ruksans on International Rock Gardener ISSN 2053-7557
No 90 The Scottish Rock Garden Club  June 2017.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Crocus are fairly easy in Australia, and we can grow some of the most beautiful without too much trouble, Helen was saying at our last meeting that every single pot of Crocus seed from Marcus's seed had germinated. Now it is warmer where Helen lives compared to here but that is good germination and they had only been in for about 2 weeks so well done Helen, I think Marcus would be happy to hear that and so will Susan.
 I went to take some photo's in Otto's garden mainly of the Galanthus which I can hear you all groan from here (Not more Galanthus) but some of us really love them and they are not easy to obtain so they have to be photographed and catalogued so we know what is in Australia and Marcus was the most important importer of Galanthus, Otto has also imported many Galanthus. I think he has the largest collection that I know of, but I digress Crocuses the Crocus above is Ottos sieberi and if you look closely some have different markings, if you look in the Crocus book by Janis Ruksans he shows a large variety of Crocus sieberi flowers from Greece and the Islands around Greece all varying in size and colour, so we should get a lovely variety coming up from Marcus's seed, its exciting isn't it.

Crocus sieberi 'Midas Touch' Otto's

Crocus sieberi 'Spring Beauty' a Donation from Jon for a raffle won by Di and passed on to me, a lovely gift Jon and Di, and what wonderful colour and markings.

Crocus chrysanthus x Crocus biflorus ssp alexandrii from Marcus seed about 6 years ago, lots of variation from seed. I don't know if Marcus did this cross or if it is a natural cross there is nothing in his seed catalogue's so I can't tell you anything about it I'm afraid, but it has very delicate colouring.

Crocus chrysanthus Herald from Glenbrook Bulbs Tasmania all three photo's, first one just showing out side markings on buds and opening to bring a little sunshine into our lives in Winter.

A Crocus that was out a few months ago Crocus laevigatus above in a pot and in the garden below.

Colchicum kesselringii planted in with Cyclamen graecum both needing a hot sunny well drained position, from Russian Central Asia and northern Afganistan on stony hillsides and alpine grassland. Flowers have a purple stripe and purple at the base of the flower above and below.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Bench display at our last meeting

Cynthia spoke about Gotland, I had no idea it had so many churches and wild flowers an interesting place. But the bench display was also inspiring for the middle of Winter. Jacqui bought her first plants for the bench, very courageous and she received a round of applause, above Galanthus Galatea, Iris George, Scilla cilicica, and several other choice Crocus bulbs.

Otto's Eranthis hyemalis variety Aurantiaca from a friend in NSW

Fermi's Spring flowering Colchicum trigynnum from Goteborg Botanic Gardens 2011 seed. Colchicum trigynnum is from Iran, the seed was sown on 10th June 2012 and the first seedling appeared on 1st September 2013 the pot of seed was left out in the elements. Ordinary potting mix was used with the addition of course sand and grit and topped with gravel. A beautiful little Colchicum Fermi.

Di's selection of Cyclamen and Iris Violet Beauty, our President claims Cyclamen are all she can grow but if Cyclamen are all you can grow how good is that, a lovely selection.

Anemone pavonina Alba from a dear departed friend whose memory lives on in her plant. Phyll obtained these bulbs from one of our founding members Marshal Mitchell from Moe who later moved to One tree Hill Road, Ferny Creek. Marshal used to travel from Moe to the Dandenongs for our meetings once a month and grew this beautiful Anemone up against the house under the eves so it did not get as much rain. Phyll always loved this Anemone and when Marshal's plants were divided up between members Phyll received this Anemone, always a favourite with her my pot I received from Phyll had her sons name Dustin on the label. It had a good seed set last year and so dispensed between our members, I hope some of the bulbs will grow and the plants will continue to live amongst our members.
Photos courtesy Fermi thank you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Members flowering plants out in the middle of Winter.

Jon's Crocus imperati from Lambley Nursery, that David says he received from Otto +30 years ago. Jon is a beautiful grower, every plant is researched and positioned so that it looks and grows perfectly, his photography is pretty good too. Summer dormancy is given to all his bulbs that require a summer drying out, in the garage. Crocus imperati is from W. Italy, a large flowered Crocus suitable for the rock garden, rich violet on the inside and biscuit-coloured outside, with violet stripes. There is also a white form available. It is very impressive, Jon has read it will tolerate a little dampness in the summer and will try some corms in the garden next year. These flowers are laden with pollen, and there is an ant deep in the flower so Jon may get seed set too.

A new Cyclamen for sale in the largest garden stores, the hybrid Petticoat Cyclamen.

Morea ciliata another of Jon bulbs out in flower so beautifully marked. Approximately 20cm high, the leaves are 3 to 5 and overlapping, they are sparsely to densely hairy usually grey. Flowers are enclosed in large, lightly hairy spathes similar to the leaves, where it gets its name ciliata from (cilia-hair like bodies. -te with fine projecting hairs). Flowering July to September in sand clay slopes Namaqualand and Karoo to Riversdale, Southern Africa.
From Cynthia? on the Bunfight.

Otto's Iris nicolai approx 12-15cm tall North-eastern Afganistan and adjacent Asian Russia, on clayey slopes at 1,000-2,000m. Alpine house in the UK keeping the foliage dry at all times. Otto's grows in his garden, he shrugs his shoulders and says "if they grow they grow if they don't they don't". He has no more room in his glass house now, so they have to grow outside, and it is growing well, and course gravel is always mixed in his soil where bulbs require sharp drainage. The marking's are exquisite.

Otto's other Iris out in flower is Iris planifolia 10 -15cm in height flowering late winter to spring, but in the wild sometimes late autumn. Mediterranean region Crete to Southern Spain, Portugal and Morocco growing out in the weather in Otto's garden.

Late Winter to early Spring flowering Colchicum doerfleri now under Colchicum hungaricum. From Hungary, Yugoslavia Albania, Bulgaria in dry stony and sandy habitats, sometimes at the back of the sea shore. Another bulb with very hairy leaf margins almost pure silver to the naked eye. In Otto's garden.

My Oxalis truncatum from the Beefy Boy's Nursery no longer selling plants, a lovely hairy Oxalis too, covered in hairs as it comes through the soil, but as it ages the hairs disappear. No information anywhere on this Oxalis in any of my books or the web. Oxalis truncatum likes a dry summer but kept in a cool position. I grow it in a good potting mix with a course sand mixed through and topped dressed to keep the leaves clean (above and below).