Back at home, the crocuses are a few days behind the ones at work. I have experimented by planting them in a wide variety of locations. Some have been eaten by voles or, believe it or not, turkeys who dug them up. A few, seen here under Pinus ponderosa with a southern exposure in very rocky ground, and in a south facing raised bed on the hot side of the house, have remained untouched by herbivores. It is my wish that they will become settled enough to naturalize in the only areas they have not yet been eaten. But for now they are cheap enough that I continue to plant some every year in the "safe zones" although I fear the day will come that they will be discovered by a convention of voles or something else and be wiped out in a single grande feast.
It is always a treat, the crocuses, because they come in such a variety of forms and colors. To the uninitiated, they all appear similar (as they did to me years ago). Yet, there are many differences to observe from the venation on the petals to the reproductive structures which can be quite variable and are often characteristic to the species.
|Tulipa saxatilis ssp bakeri 'Lilac Wonder'|
|Anemone coronaria leaves|
The crown anemone, Anemone coronaria, is typically pretty dependable if the tubers don't get eaten by rodents. They sometimes send up their leaves before the conclusion of the previous year, persisting through frosts and freezes, to reliably bloom in Spring. I was able to collect seed from some of these last year, which hastily germinated, grew shortly, and disappeared. I hope the seedlings, and the mature tubers, persist.
These are the few remaining survivors of last years' Allium cleansing (by the tyrannical vole empire). Like the Crocus that have not [yet] been eaten, these are growing in the south bed, a raised bed on the hot side of the house. The peculiar thing is there are signs of voles around the bed, though they have not yet been enticed into the bed itself. I fear the continuation of this year will prove otherwise. But alas, I had collected seed from these last year, one or two have germinated, so all will not be lost if these should fall to the lower intestine of the vile rodents.
|Dodecatheon hendersonii exposed crown|
|Piperia (Platanthera) leaf|
|Dodecatheon hendersonii leaves|
It is known as Pacific woodrush, and flowers in Spring. I took some photos last year before the identity of this "grass" was known to me. I will take some photos when they bloom this year (hopefully with some better skill), but you can see last years' photos in the post, Mystery (mind you, these mystery plants have since been identified).
|Narcissus leaves and bud|
|Narcissus second year bulbs|
|Chlorogalum second year bulbs|
|Delphinium nuttallianum second year growth|
|Allium albopilosum seedlings|
I have received a few inquiries as to what medium I start seed in. I mix up a very basic soil mix, sometimes with bagged potting soil as a base, sometimes from scratch. I mix together roughly equal parts of the following:
- Coarse builders sand
- Sifted compost
- Chicken grit
- Reconstituted coconut coir
I mix it up in a wheelbarrow, starting with the coir as it tends to require overnight soaking. The exact proportions don't matter that much so long as the mix drains freely yet not too quickly as to dry out too quickly. It also depends on the time of year. In Winter, more sand and grit keep the mix from holding too much water. In Summer, a more retentive mix is a plus. Substituting perlite or bagged potting mix is OK, except I find perlite to be a drawback if too much is added as the mix floats in water and is hard to start seeds in. Never use perlite to top off the pot as it will float. I don't use vermiculite as the compost and coir do a great job on their own at retaining moisture. I prefer coir over peat because it is neutral. Peat lowers the pH, which could be a benefit if the plant prefers acid soil, though adding iron to the mix prevents leaf chlorosis (yellowing from lack of chlorophyll production) in acid-loving plants grown in alkaline conditions. Experiment!
|Erythronium hendersonii seedlings|
|Dichelostemma capitatum seedlings|
|Iris chrysophylla seedlings|
|Toxicoscordion fremontii seedlings|
|Colchicum hungaricum, bulb offsets from the PBS bulb exchange|