Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
October, 2006
Regional Report

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Surprise! These blood lily blooms shot up 6 inches in one week.

Bulb Time in the Garden

My blood lily (Haemanthus coccineus) just burst into bloom! A week ago, it was just an overstuffed clump of seemingly dormant bulbs topped with crumpled brown paper-crisp foliage. As I separated the bulbs, removed the papery shards, and repotted them in a container, I noticed two tiny green leaf tips emerging from each bulb, and a spot of pink between them. After watering them and setting them aside in a corner of the garden, I forgot about them until day before yesterday, when I passed by that corner in search of something else. Surprise! Those pale pink spots had shot up 9 inches and become inch-and-a-half-wide bright pink blooms. I moved the container to my front window for frequent viewing. Because the area is in light shade except for an hour's sun in the morning, the blossom stems lean toward the sun. After several days' turning, they're facing every which way. What a treat!

I've definitely become a bulb fiend. Nowhere else can you get guaranteed bloom in every season and repeat surprise and pleasure, with absolutely no maintenance. The only attention required is in choosing what to plant and where. Part of the fun is experimenting to see which bulbs will succeed in the garden. But, of course, this requires philosophic acceptance of some not making it. After I've tried something for the third time, I don't bother anymore. I don't call this failure, just finding out what does and doesn't work. That's part of gardening.

Some of my dahlias and daylilies are reblooming now, as well. That bit of a rainstorm knocked down one of my two 10-foot-tall tree dahlias, so I staked the remaining one up. That's one flower that I'm glad has downward-facing blooms so I can enjoy them! I definitely feel Lilliputian around that plant!

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