Ron Leeds, author of Bulbs in Containers (Timber Press, 2005; $29.95), lives in England, a country with growing conditions about as opposite from the low desert as can be found. Even so, I found his book's plant descriptions to be helpful when I was drawing up a list of bulb plants to add to my collection. Leeds describes a plant's native habitat, which is an excellent way to determine whether an unknown plant has a good chance of survival in one's own gardening locale. For example, I added bulbs native to South Africa to my wish list, including Albuca, and found one for sale when poking around a nursery recently. The book contains photographs of dozens of intriguing lesser-known bulb plants to whet a plant lover's appetite!
Favorite or New Plant
Zephyranthes is a bulb plant that bursts into bloom after rain, hence its common name of rain lily. It grows in glossy, green clumps of tubular stems, somewhat resembling a clump of chives. Bulbs are about the size of a marble. Plant in organic, well-drained soil, and they will multiply rapidly. Leaves die back and go dormant without moisture, but readily revive when water resumes. Z. candida has white flowers; Z. grandiflora, rosy-pink; and Z. citrina is yellow.