Friday, March 9, 2018

The best laid plans...

Bulbs.  I consider them little miracles.  They come in unimpressive brown packages.  You pop them into the ground and, if you're like me, you promptly forget them.  Then months later, surprise!  Blooms appear.  And, if the bulb is well-suited to its spot, it returns annually thereafter.  I planted over 300 new bulbs back in October and a portion of those, plus others planted in prior years, began flowering over the past two weeks.  The only problem with bulbs is that you don't really know if you've got what you thought you bought until it blooms.

The area next to my backyard fountain is filled with plants flowering in shades of blue, purple, white and yellow.  I planted packages of blue Freesias.  That's not what I got.

The "blue" Freesias I scattered around my dwarf Jacaranda began blooming this week

With one exception, it appears all are a dark pink.  The exception is orange, an unusual color in Freesias.


Out front, in the area bordering our driveway, I planted blue and white double flowered Freesias.  Or so they were labeled.

This lovely blue bloom isn't really a double flowered variety but the blooms are large and the color is right

And there are a few white blooms but, once again, the majority appear to be pink


I usually pick Freesia bulbs out of open bins, where there's always the possibility that someone drops a bulb or two back into the wrong bin.  This year, I bought all of them in sealed packages of 20-25 bulbs.  Instead of helping ensure my color choices, it seems to have had the opposite effect.

On the other hand, I bought 3 packages of mixed Sparaxis bulbs, 120 bulbs in total.  Generally, I prefer to put together my own color mixes but I've never found Sparaxis sold locally in anything other than a bagged mix of white, pink, orange and red flowers and, on this occasion, that's exactly what I wanted.  However, thus far, every single one has bloomed in shades of orange.

The flower on the left is blooming on the front slope amid succulents, while those on the right border a bed in the back garden


So it looks as though I'll be moving some bulbs around at the end of their bloom periods.  I'll probably move the dark pink-flowered Freesias to the back border, which already has a lot of light pink bloomers planted in prior years.

All the light pink Freesia, including those planted this year as well as those planted in prior years, are mottled with white this year for some reason
An effect of the weather?  A virus?


Maybe I'll drop the stray orange Freesia in with the gold-flowered batch next to the patio.

Of course, if I moved the orange-flowered variety here, it'll clash badly with those lavender blooms


While my "blue" Freesias haven't met my expectation this year, the blue bloomers planted in prior years have delivered.

The Dutch Iris next to the fountain started blooming this week

and the Scilla peruviana still look great


The first batch of the new Narcissus I planted in October are also meeting expectations.

Narcissus 'Geranium'


And the lovely Ferraria crispa continues to produce new blooms each day to replace those that bloomed the prior day.

The blooms may be small and last just one day but they keep on coming


The Alliums have produced only foliage so far but the first of the Ranunculus, planted in shades of pink, white and purple, are just beginning to open.

Um, does that look purple to you?


Oh well.  Gardening presents an endless stream of surprises.  I hope your weekend brings some good ones.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. It's unfortunate that the sealed packages of bulbs still had a lot of surprise colors in them. Spring is definitely underway in your garden! I can almost smell the fresia from here.

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    1. The Freesias are popping up all over, Peter! It only takes a couple of stems to perfume a room.

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  2. Kris, Spring seems to be around the corner in your garden! Freesias are gorgeous flowers I used to have lots of them but then I gave them away to make room for more roses. I hope the weather is nice in California now, heat is still terrible here and this summer has been unusually dry. Meteorologists say this might be anticipating a "niña" phenomenom (high temperatures and less rain) for the rest of the year. Last time la niña struck this part of the continent was in 2006.

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    1. Meteorologists have periodically characterized this year's weather here as related to a "weak" La Niña too, MDN. Whatever it's called, it's annoying. We're supposed to get some rain tomorrow. I hope we do as I've turned the irrigation system off in anticipation of it.

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  3. I now buy most of my bulbs mail order -I've found it far more reliable -though more expensive-especially since I get an employee discount on the bagged stuff.I still buy the Freesias in bags though . It was so warm in Feb that my Freesias budded up and then a night in the 20's killed off the buds of those in the more exposed locations.

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    1. It's too bad you lost those ill-timed blooms! I mail-ordered my Alliums and Narcissus but, with Freesias so readily available here, it never occurred to me to mail-order those too. This is the first time I can remember a color mix-up on this order. (The Ranunculus were also sold as bagged bulbs.) Maybe the vendor supplying my local garden center has a quality control problem, or staff in need of checks for color blindness.

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  4. Well that’s no fun! How frustrating. None of the bulbs I planted last fall (with the exception of the orange Crocus) are blooming yet so I’m holding on to hope they’ll be the color they were promised to be. Your Ferraria crispa is a knock out!

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    1. That Ferraria is a winner this year. Given the lack of rain, most of my bulbs are doing surprisingly well this year, even if they're not appearing in the expected colors.

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  5. Did you order all those bulbs from the same company? If so, you might send them a note to alert them to their need for better color control. At any rate, I absolutely adore your orange Sparaxis bulbs and also your Ferraria crispa. I have never seen those before! They are so unusual. I wonder if they would grow in the Alabama?

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    1. The bulbs that are blooming in the wrong color all were sold in sealed bags by my local garden center and, unfortunately, I didn't make note of the vendor. I could complain to the garden center but it's not worth the effort without proof of exactly what I purchased. My receipts don't note the species, much less the color.

      Ferraria crispa is a South African native, which prefers to be dry during the summer months so you'd probably have to grow it in a pot to ensure it doesn't get too much water, Deb. Both Annie's Annuals & Perennials (a California-based mail order and retail nursery) and Michigan Bulbs sell the Ferraria bulbs.

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  6. Well, you could always complain to the bulb grower and get a credit for future purchases. (Buy one, get one free!) I've been disappointed many times with not getting what I ordered, I've grown particular with whom I do business. Want the list of no-goes? hehe
    I'm under the impression that striping like that is caused by virus, but maybe it is lack of rain stress. Speaking of which, it looks like your area is getting rain?

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    1. We got rain over the weekend, Eliza! It's been wonderful.

      As I remarked in response to Deb (above), the bulbs in question were purchased directly from my local garden center in sealed bags. Unfortunately, I don't have record of the bulb grower's name. If I did, I probably would send a letter of complaint, especially if both the Freesias and the Ranunculus were supplied to the garden center by the same grower.

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    2. Glad you finally got some rain at last. All your plants must be happy.
      Maybe the garden center would like to know that their supplier is not reliable, but that would depend on whether they care! 'Caveat emptor' seems to be the way things are these days, more than ever.

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    3. It's a chain store. My guess is that the clerks would roll their eyes.

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  7. The flowers are beautiful, even if they're not what you ordered. How much of the order did they get right?

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    1. None of the incorrectly labeled bulbs came directly from a grower. My problem bulbs were in sealed packages purchased from my local garden center and I've no record any longer as to who the grower was that distributed them to the garden center. Not all the Freesias have bloomed but, of the batch of 25 I planted in the back border, all have thus far bloomed in shades other than blue - most dark pink, one orange and one white so far. In addition, most of these are double-flowered varieties rather than single. The Freesias I planted in the front garden (2 bags of 20 bulbs each) seems to be blooming in a mix of colors, including pink and yellow, in addition to the blue and white varieties I thought I was planting. All the "purple" Ranunculus that have bloomed thus far out of the package of 10 I planted appear to be red. It's annoying but I'll make use of the blooms anyway and will relocate the bulbs once the blooms are finished.

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  8. I got a package of Sparaxis also and they are also all orange! Ha, ha! Not thrilled with them--it was intended that we get winter rain, enough to keep them moist. You know what happened there.

    "Dutch" iris seem to be the most successful here--they come back every year without fail. Ranunculus I've given up on--love the flowers but they don't come back. You always plan so carefully with color and what did you get? Red instead of purple.

    Freesias are floppy--tempted to try them at the edge of a wall so they hang over. I have the double pink ones also still reappearing after a decade, so they are good. :)

    Did you get a good rain over the weekend? We got a half an inch! Wheee! Hopefully more during the week.

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    1. The Rannunculus are in my cutting garden - they need too much water to grown in the borders.

      According to our roof-top weather station, we got 2/3rds of an inch! The neighbor's station across the street registered 0.95/inch! That neighbor's count is always higher but my husband (Mr. Scientist) conducted a validation and showed that, for some reason, his garden gets more rain.

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  9. That Ferraria crispa is gorgeous. Something I've never seen or heard of before. I have had some bulb problems now and then, so I now get them from specialty nurseries which rarely make those kind of mistakes. My favorites are Brent and Becky Heath and Old House Gardens or John Scheepers. Have you thought about putting some orange Freesias by the daff with the orange cup?

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    1. That's the best suggestion yet, Linda. Yes, the orange Freesia should go up front with the daffodils.

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  10. You've had the same problems as I've had with my tulips this year. At least I know not to buy from my local shops again! My Freesias were hit by the very low temperatures for the second year running, I doubt I'll have any flowers this year. I rather like all your pink ones but I know that isn't the point when you think you have blue.

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    1. For areas in which I'd like to control bloom color, I think I'll mail-order directly from growers in the future, Christina. The only downside of that is that the growers don't always ship as early as we'd like for planting in coastal Southern California. I do like the dark pink Freesias but I'll also be moving them to a new spot once they finish this cycle of bloom.

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