Friday, October 17, 2014

A Dry-Climate Iris and Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum arabicum, bulbs, garden bulbs, Star of Bethlehem, desert garden

Like many another gardener, I find myself longing for plants that won't grow in my climate.  Since I contended for years with heavy soil and too much shade, I have a backlist of plants requiring full sun and well-drained soil.
Iris bukharica bulbs, desert garden, flower bulb, digital sketch

So here I am with full sun and, I hope, reasonably porous soil.  And it is autumn.  I have long promised myself to have a go at Iris bukharica if I ever had a drier garden site.

So the first I. bukharica bulbs are in the ground here.  I missed photographing the bulbs so am substituting a digital sketch... oh, well!  They are rather distinctive bulbs with their pale, yellow-tinged surface and fleshy roots.

Planting instructions that came with the package recommended a spacing of seven inches.  I checked on the RHS website and found a recommedation of .1m, or about 4 inches.  I opted to use the closer spacing, partly to have a denser look and partly to allow for my misgivings about the plants' capacity to flourish here.  It takes some getting used to - the idea of growing much of anything in the ground here!  However, I have hopes for my little I. bukharicas; and who knows, if they grow well, I may attempt some of the other Aril irises!

Also in the order was a half dozen Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum arabicum) bulbs.  I did manage to photograph these...

Ornithogalum arabicum bulb, Star of Bethlehem bulbs, flower bulbs

They went in at about the same spacing as the irises.  I have never grown any of the ornithogalum species before and am looking forward to seeing them in my garden for the first time.  But for now, I have buried six bulbs some 4 inches deep in Arizona soil and will have to wait...

Ornithogalum arabicum bulbs, desert garden, Star of Bethlehem

One of the more nerve-wracking elements in all of this is the question of how moist to keep the soil.  I find it a little more retentive than I had assumed.  I used less soil amendment with the bulbs because I discovered that instead of buying woodland mulch, I have now purchased nice manure - twice!  But that's another story.  In the meantime, I am hoping drainage will be all right.  Time will tell!

Ornithogalum arabicum, flower bulb, Star of Bethlehem bulb

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