Jim Shields' Garden Notes
Blog Home | Archives | Category Index | Links | About This Blog | Shields Gardens
Blog Home : June 2007

- What Is Blooming

There has been a considerable hiatus in this narrative. Too busy, or maybe not enough happening? Both, I guess. The weather has been very dry for the past 6 - 7 weeks, and only the weeds have been growing. We may have gotten two inches of rain right here on our garden in that period. The grass is turning grey-yellow and is getting crunchy underfoot. The daylilies (Hemerocallis) are starting to flower, so there is a little color in the garden.

The Crinum have been blooming, but I'll get to them later. Another Zantedeschia ("Calla Lily"), Z. 'Black Foirest', has started blooming. Irma loves "black" flowers, so this is one of her favorites. We also have another dark-flowered Calla Lily, Z. 'Black Pearl', and it complements 'Black Forest' by flowering in July, after 'Black Forest' has finished.

Black Calla Lilies
Zantedeschia 'Black Forest' (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.  ""  ""  ""  ""  Zantedeschia 'Black Forest' (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Zantedeschia 'Black Forest'

Also in pots on the deck, a dainty little Mexican spider lily, Hymenocallis glauca, is in bloom. I think the rain yesterday may have damaged this flower as it was opening.

Hymenocallis glauca (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Hymenocallis glauca

This little spider lily is characterized by its wide, glaucous (gray-blue) leaves. It shares its modest stature with many other Mexican Hymenocallis species. We have it growing in a 1-gal. pot.

A South African native bulb, Ammocharis coranica (in the Amaryllis Family), is flowering for the very first time in my collection. The 3- to 4-inch diameter bulb is planted with its neck just at the surface in a 2-gal. pot. It was kept dry and cool in the cool greenhouse over winter, and only watered a few weeks before last frost date. In leaf, we grow it in full sun.

Ammocharis coranica
Ammocharis coranica

The closest relatives of the Ammocharis are probably in the genus Crinum. Ammocharis, Boophane, Crinum, and Nerine are all in a related South African clade within the Amaryllis Family. Amaryllis and Brunsvigia are another pair of very closely related genera in the same clade. (A "clade" is a group of closely related species within, for instance, a particular family.) I'll go into more detail about the Crinum later, in another note.

Good gardening,


- Crinum Hardiness

We had more rain last night, for a total of about 0.7 inch in the past few weeks. This is very welcome!

I've been talking for the past several years about how hardy some Crinum are. One of the hardiest was Crinum variabile, native to the Western Cape province in South Africa and, there, a winter growing plant -- because their rainfall occurs in their winter. Here, it is an opportunistic grower, and happily grows in summer and goes dormant in winter, whether because of cold or lack of water.

All of my small C. variabile seedling bulbs that were lined out in the field died over last winter. It was not terribly cold, but we had exceptionally warm periods of up to a month that alternated with seasonably cold periods of about a month. There was planty of moisture as well, one 10 to 15 inch deep snowfall and plenty of rain in the warmer spells.

The changeable winter weather seems to have been fatal for most of the small seedling Crinum bulbs (1 to 2 years old), and not just C. variabile. Even my very large C. variabile bulbs in the field were damaged, and have been very slow to come up this season.

Also lost were all the small C. bulbispermum seedling bulbs out in the field. I don't have any really large bulbs of C. bulbispermum planted out in the field.

Some crinums did in fact survive out in the field. C. [bulbispermum X lugardiae] seems to be the hardiest of the bloom-size crinums. Some of the small seedling bulbs of this hybrid also survived. The large bulbs of this one are in bloom right now.

Bulbs of the small seedling size of the hybrid C. [variabile X bulbispermum] seem to have done fairly well. About 9 our of ca. 14 survived and look larger this season than last.

Somewhat surprisingly, a few small seedling bulbs of the hybrid C. [bulbispermum X graminicola] survived in the field (about 4 out of 12).

I have two accessions of Crinum lugardiae, one from Natal, South Africa, and the other from Namibia. The Natal form are larger and much more floriferous than the Namibian form. I planted three or four plants of each in the field last summer. None of the Natal form survived the winter, but two of the four Namibian form survived! The hardy hybrid [bulbispermum X lugardiae] are offspring of the Natal form, not of the Namibian form.

A few years ago, I tested seedling bulbs of the hybrid [[bulbispermum X macowanii] in the field. Out of ca. 20 planted, only three survived the winter. I dug those and pottend them up. the first of the three bloomed this season, and the flowers look like pure macowanii. Since the seed parent was bulbispermum, there is no chance that it was a macowanii selfed. I would really like to have a fully hardy hybrid that had macowanii type flowers.

I am always interested in hearing about others' expeerience with cold hardy Crinum and other South African bulbs. You can contact me at: [Respond or comment on this entry] by e-mail.

Good gardening,


- Crinum Varieties

Here is my flower on a "hardy" seedling of Crinum [bulbispermum X macowanii], which survived one winter outdoors in the ground before I rescued it to a pot.

Crinum [bulbispermum x macowanii] (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Crinum [bulbispermum X macowanii]
JES #1471.A

Note the typical macowanii wine goblet form of the flowers in profile, but the straight margins of the leaves, typical of bulbispermum. Also, bulbispermum was the female or seed parent in this cross.

Over the past week or so, the crinums have been blooming. Some of them stand out. Quite unique is Crinum 'Improved Peachblow'. I'm not sure who originated this one, but it is a fine flower. My bulb of it, new a couple years ago, came from Alani Davis in Florida. It is now flowering for the first time.

Crinum 'Improved Peachblow' (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Crinum 'Improved Peachblow'

The image above is a little under-exposed, but otherwise the images don't show the delicate pale peach-pink coloration. At first I thought it had no female organs at all, but carefully pulling a flower apart revealed a very much shortened pistil down in the floral tube, quite out of sight from the front of the intact flowers.

There are lots of forms of Crinum bulbispermum around, but the following is one of the best. I got it from Herb Kelly Jr. in 2000. He calls it the "Orange River Basin Form," but I think of it as "Herb Kelly's Red."

Crinum bulbispermum Orange River Basin form (c) copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Orange River Basin form of Crinum bulbispermum, or
Herb Kelly's Red

Orange River Lily is a common name for Crinum bulbispermum, but not all of them are from the Orange River, by any means. Nor are many of them this beautiful! My accession number for Herb's Red is JES #1012; and I have only two bulbs of this red form. I do not know whether the red color comes true from seed, but I plan to find out.

Herb has lots of Crinum bulbispermum, but mainly as mixed forms. You can contact Herb by e-mail at: herbk76@aol.com

We have other Crinum bulbispermum forms. One is a strain from South Africa, which we gave the accession number JES #1020 to. These are not as red as the Herb's Red type, but the flower form is the same. Then there are some seed-grown plants from southern Louisiana, naturalized there, JES #659. The #659 have narrower, more trumpet shaped flowers and have much lighter pink in place of the rosy red.

Good gardening,


- Crinum Survival in Winter Storage

I checked some of the Crinum pots that over-wintered in either the heated shed or in the little heated hoop house. I'm not sure which ones spent the winter in which building.

I had total loss on my seedlings of Crinum ligulatum (JES #2031), planted in June 2005 and repotted into large pots in summer 2006. This species is from Madagascar, and my seeds came from Dave Lehmiller by way of the International Bulb Society Seed Exchange.

I also lost all my seedlings of Crinum yuccaeides (JES #2117), also from Dr. Lehmiller via the IBS SX. The original stock was collected in Cameroon, in Africa. These were planted in July 2006.

Surviving, at least partially, are Crinum verdoorniae (JES #2113) and C. aurantiacum (JES #2124). Maybe more of these will still come up this summer.

Good survivals over several winters, stored the same way, have been found with two batches of Crinum carlo-schmidtii, JES #1675 ex Namibia, planted in July 2003, and JES #2110, ex Namibia, planted in June 2004; with C. paludosum (JES #2116) ex Natal, South Africa, planted in July 2006; with C. fimbriatulum (JES #2044) ex Angola, planted in August 2005; and with C. firmifolium (JES #2111) ex Madagascar, which even has two plants with bloom scapes coming up.

We occasionally lose bulbs in winter storage of any forms of Crinum. I've never figured out why one bulb dies while a dozen others live, all exposed summer and winter to the same conditions.

I talked with Herb Kelly <herbk76@aol.com> on the phone last night. Herb has plenty of mature bulbs of the red strain of Crinum builbispermum from the Orange River Basin, but they do not all look just like the picture I posted here yesterday. All have some strong red markings on the flowers, but the patterns vary from one plant to the next. They are all seed-grown, and this strain rarely produces offsets. In the future, Herb is going to have many additional great, unique, hybrids and strains of crinums to offer.

Good gardening,


Blog Home | Archives | Category Index | Links | About This Blog | Shields Gardens

Easy Blogs - Evaluation edition
Last revised on: 28 June 2007
© Page and Contents Copyright 2007 by Shields Gardens Ltd. All rights reserved.