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A Bulb Like No Other


A few days ago it was cool enough to go outside and see the red needles calling me. It was my fully open haemanthus, a rarely grown South African bulb whose salmon red stamens form a round ball up to 10 inches across.

From my earliest greenhouse experiments, I never could get it right. First of all, it was called Haemanthus ‘Katherinae’. (I don’t know who she is.) By the time I researched that elusive woman, her name had been changed to Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. katherinae. I hope she likes her new inlaws. She rotted on me. Some thanks I got for slavishly taking care of her.

I eventually bought a new bulb, small and inexpensive, probably an offset. This Katherinae is like Paris Hilton, expensive and showy, but is the depth there? She went into a 6-inch pot with container potting soil, and out came a small flower that spent the summer on the wall around my patio. That winter Katherinae stayed in the pot, sheltered in a big box of other bulbs for company. She survived and flowered. Helped by loving care, she put out an offset.

Photos By Nancy Kekst

Now I save the bulb in the same pot and wait for really hot summer days until a shiny, dark bud shows. The round flower zooms out, and lastly the foliage appears.

She is really hot stuff!

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questions

I plan on saving my amaryllis bulbs that I kept outside over summer, but I noticed red streaks on the inner side of the leaves. What caused that? Will I be able to save my bulbs?

What three dwarf shrubs do you think gardeners should know about and why?

With all the emphasis on growing fresh vegetables, I think I should use a cold frame but I am not sure what to do or how to go about it. Any ideas?

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