32: Autumn 2013

Author: Ron Davies

Unusual Bulbs (Part 2)

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Unusual Bulbs (Part 2)
Ron Davies

I have been growing bulbs for some years now with fairly good results, although many are alleged to be half hardy. The following list is of many of my favourites and I would encourage you to have a go at growing them. I use the term bulb loosely as it includes corms and swollen rhizomes.

Cyclamen hederifolium and coum. Seeds of both these species are easy to obtain and propagate and I have had good success with them. They rapidly colonise into very pleasing clumps with tiny pink flowers. S. Europe and Asia Minor.

Delphinium pylzowii. In flower at the moment (August), a most charming plant approximately 10″ in height with deep blue purple flowers. One for a raised bed. Delightful. West China.

Dicentra. Two climbing herbaceous climbers starting into growth late May to early June. D. scandens. Vigorous with pendant racemes of pure yellow flowers. D. lichiangensis. Stems flushed pink with single locket shaped yellow flowers on pendant racemes, followed by red seed pods. Absolutely stunning. The Himalaya.

Dierama pulcherrimum and others. I have grown these for years, at first believing they needed moist soil to succeed. It didn’t work for me but once I planted them in the hottest place they flourished. Common name of Angel’s Fishing Rod. They are graceful grass like beings with long pendant bells of different colours. I have pink-white to purple. In height 1′ to 3′. Remarkably hardy and I wouldn’t be without them. S. Africa.

Eucomis comosa. Not the showiest of plants but with spikes of white flowers they are certainly garden worthy, flowering late summer. 10″ to 12″ in height. E. erectum is a plant with pure white flowers forming a large clump very quickly. Perhaps the tallest and best of all is E. pole-evansii, attaining a height of well over three feet. S. Africa.

Habranthus texanus. Quite a nice little plant with single copper coloured flowers flushed inside golden yellow. I grew it for a few years and lost it, however it grows outside at a friend’s garden and seeds around so it is well worth trying. S. Africa.

Iris orchiodes. It is with some trepidation that I name this. It is a wonderful small Juno iris grown from seed obtained from Jim and Jenny Archibald. It could possibly be bucharica. A super plant. Central Asia.

Hesperantha huttonii. Graceful grass like stem with racemes of pink flowers. 12″. Late summer. S. Africa.

Moraea spathulata. Flowers similar to iris, yellow with dark markings. Stems up to 24″. Happy in damp soil. S. Africa.

Paradisea liliastrum. St Bruno’s Lily. A lovely addition to the rock garden, stems about 12″ with a spike of pure white trumpets in early summer. S Europe. P. lusitanica is much taller, with more open starry flowers on stems up to 4′. S. Europe.

Sauromatum venosum. I got this seed from Chris Chadwell as Arisaema sp. It has a very attractive mottled black stem. In late spring a stemless speckled brown spathe appears, attracting many flies. The flower is very short lived. A very interesting plant which books say needs a Florida like climate, yet has proved hardy with me for many years. S. India.

Tigridia pavonia. Stems 10” to 12”, sword shaped leaves with orange blotched flowers. Needs a sheltered spot. A lovely plant. Mexico.

Tropaeolum polyphylum. A trailing plant from scree slopes in Chile. Wonderful glaucous leaves, superb buds followed by rich yellow flowers. A delightful plant. T. tricolor has stems trailing or climbing, petals yellow edged, maroon sepals and crimson spurs. T. tuberosum has orange flowers over a long period.

Tulbaghia simmleri. 12” flowers mauve to violet, sometimes white. A good reliable plant. S. Africa.

Happy and successful growing!

The second part of ‘An ABC of unusual bulbs’, first published in the Cumbria Group Newsletter Autumn / Winter 2012 and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 32.

© Copyright for this article: Ron Davies

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2013. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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