Sunday, March 2, 2014

MBG Bulb Gardens,
Collection Development Projects: 2012-14

The 2014 Mid America Regional Lily Society educational meeting was held on Saturday, February 22nd, from 9:30 AM to NOON, in the Beaumont Room at the Missouri Botanical Garden.(MBG)
Sophia Warsh presentation at MOBOT
Sophia Warsh at 2014 MARLS Educational Meeting

Members and guests were thrilled to welcome Sophia Warsh, horticulturalist and bulb expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  She reviewed the recent collections development projects in the Heckman and Samuels Bulb Gardens during her presentation.

Spring Bulbs 

The daffodil collection at the Missouri Botanical Garden contains 700 varieties that represent 12 of the 13 daffodil divisions.  Daffodils are animal resistant and provide interest from early to late spring.

The tulip collection contains selected hybrid tulips, but MBG wants to develop their species collection and wild tulips from seed.  For best perennial results, Tulips prefer well-drained soil and a harsh summer baking.  The best perennial divisions include Darwin Hybrids, Fosteriana, Single Late, Kaufmanniana, Greigii, and most species.  Many of the species tulips are originally from the Caucasus and Central Asia, such as ‘Tulipa altaica’, ‘Tulipa kaufmanniana’, and ‘Tulipa greigii’.

Sophia also talked about other spring bulbs, such as, Snowdrops, Crocus, Winter Aconite, Narrowleaf Onion, Camassia and Virginia Bluebells.

Summer Bulbs

The Lilium collection at the Missouri Botanical Garden is extensive.  From Lilium Martagon, to Asiatic Lilium like ‘Tiger Babies’, ‘Orange Electric’, and ‘Royal Lace’, to Oriental –Trumpets like ‘Ortega’ and ‘Scheherazade’. 

Sophia talking with Don Kelley, MARLS President
The Lilium collection also contains some species Lilium.  ‘Lilium hansonii’, is native to Korea, Eastern Siberia, and Japan, it typically grows 3-5 feet tall, has strongly fragrant flowers, and prefers dappled shade.

Lilium henryi’, is native to China, it typically grows 4-8 feet tall, and has nodding flowers with maroon spots. It will grow in part shade to full sun, and is one of the largest of the traditional garden lilies.

Lilium pardalinum’ (Leopard Lily), is native to the Pacific coasts of the USA.  They are a woodland species that are typically found in damp places within coniferous forests.  They grow about 3-5 feet tall and are very hardy and easy to grow.

Lilium martagon’, is native to Eurasia and grows on limestone hills, woods, and thickets.  Once established, they are long lived.  Their flowers form a Turks cap, they have thick petals, and their bulb scales are yellow.

Lilium regale’, are native to the Min River Valley in China, where they have hot summers and cold winters.  They bloom during mid-summer, prefer to grow in sun, and they are strongly fragrant.

MBG plans to add more species Lilium to the collection by adding such species as ‘Lilium candidum’, ‘Lilium lancifolium’, ‘Lilium pumilum’, and ‘Lilium columvianum’.

Tender bulbs

The garden also has an extensive collection of Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthesoma, and Caladium.  They are tubers and are animal resistant.  They provide additional foliage interest during the summer, and require ample moisture to reach substantial size.  They are not hardy during the winter, so they must be dug and cared for in the greenhouses during the winter months.

South African Bulb Collection

Some of the South African bulbs include ‘Agapanthus sp.’, ‘Crinum sp.’, ‘Ornithogalum sp.’, ‘Clivia miniata’, and ‘Eucomis pole-evansii’.  South Africa has the highest diversity of Amaryllids in the world.  Many of these bulbs grow in grasslands and support a high diversity.  Many endemic and geophytes can be found in this area of the world.

Fall Bulbs

Lycoris are in the Amaryllis family and are native to Eastern Asia.  Many people refer to them as magic lilies, surprise lilies, or naked ladies.  They are animal resistant, bloom during late summer to mid-autumn, tolerate many soil and environmental conditions, and are sweetly fragrant.

Colchicum (Autumn Crocus), are corms that are found in Europe, North Africa, and Western to Central Asia.  They flower during the autumn, but their leaves appear during the spring.

Other fall blooming bulbs include the Prairie Onion which is native to North America, Autumn Daffodil (‘Sternbergia lutea’) which is found in the Mediterranean and Middle East, and Scilla autumnalis, which is native to Europe and the Mediterranean.

Future Plans

Future plans include integrating the cultivated and species bulbs together, highlighting regional diversity, and including more Habitat gardens.
Lilium michiganense
photo by Edgar Denison

These plans would involve the inclusion of more bulbs from Eastern and North America, such as ‘Camassia scilloides’, ‘Claytonia virginica’, and ‘Erythronium albidum’.  For the Lilium collection; MBG also wants to include more Lilium from Eastern North America that grow in wetlands, meadows, and near streams.  Some of these species could include ‘L. michiganense’, ‘L. philadelphicum’, ‘L. superbum’, and ‘L. canadense’.

MBG wants to expand the bulb collection into the current Dwarf Conifer Garden.  These plans would include more forest Monocots and spring Ephemerals.

Sophia’s knowledge and direction for the MBG bulb collection was extensive.  We really appreciate her time to keep us informed about the world class bulb collection at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Lily Potting Laboratory

 Lily Potting results

As part of the MARLS Educational meeting, we hosted a Lily Potting Laboratory and demonstrated potting lily bulbs with proper soil and care.

Under the oversight of MARLS members, over 50 lily bulbs were taken home, by the public, to grow in pots at the Educational Meeting.

One of the potted bulbs was taken home and placed in a suitable warm spot right away. This photo depicts the resultant lily as of April 14, 2014. It's almost 30 inches tall and going strong!

--by Lynn Slackman

Speaker BIO for Sophia Warsh;
Sophia Warsh is a gardener from New York City. She has a BA in fine arts from Bennington College and a certificate in Landscape Design from the New York Botanical Garden School of Continuing Education.

After working for two design/build firms, she became devoted to plants while working for The Queens Botanical Garden and The Central Park Conservancy.

As a horticulturist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Sophia is responsible for the Bulb and Rock Garden collections. Recently she has participated in two plant collecting expeditions as part of the exchange program between MBG, The Moscow Botanical Garden and The Department of Fish and Wildlife.