Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Hardy and a Surprise

Plants that stand up to weather and time are excellent investments.

This Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is about 11 years old and continues to thrive in its small confined place.

It’s a large shrub with clusters of unusual yellow flowers that attract pollinators.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) has been another survivor.  It’s also about 11 years old.

Although it’s a tropical plant, it can survive here if it’s planted in a place protected from north winds.  So it’s not a shoo-in for our area.

Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is the best plant to attract Queen butterflies.  The flowers themselves are unimpressive, but they definitely provide the needed nectar.

If you plant them, they will come.  And stay for the duration until winter.

Always a pleasure to look out the window and see the flurry of activity on these flowers.

Also very hardy is a large variety of weeds that are tenacious.  It’s a constant struggle to keep them out of the flowerbeds.  But that’s to be expected since we live in the middle of pastures.

Pink Surprise Lily or Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera) was definitely a surprise for me this year.  According to my records, the bulb was planted 4 years ago and has never bloomed before.

At zone 8a, we’re out of its normal range.  The optimum zones are 6a to 7b.  When it was planted, the zone maps put our area at 7b.  Revised maps show we’re in a hotter zone.

I’ve since learned that the best growing conditions include a cold, long winter.  Since we did have colder temperatures and a later spring, I guess that explains why it finally bloomed.  Also, this lily prefers a dry, hot summer.  Voila.  We have that in spades.

The leaves appear first and die; then the naked stem with flowers appear.

Iron Weed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a native that grows in bar ditches and bloom with some moisture.  They can be gangly growing 3 ft. tall with flowers right at the top of the stem.  Their best feature is the purple color of the flowers.

I got a fistful of seeds from a friend about 4 years ago.  The plants reseed and will spread out.

“Respect old people.  They graduated high school without Google or Wikipedia.”  unknown