Bulb labyrinth

labyrinth ditched out

This afternoon, I helped Cornell bulb expert Bill Miller and his class prepare a bulb labyrinth for planting at the Bluegrass Lane Research Center. Center manager Ron White ran a sod stripper over the pattern Bill laid out yesterday. And today the students excavated the trench where the bulbs — daffodils, tulips and muscari — will be planted next week.

Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has a single convoluted path to the center. Go ahead. Trace it with your finger following the grass path that will be defined by the bulb planting. (Much easier with the larger image.) It’s an ancient, contemplative tradition. Read much more about it at the Labyrinthos website.

Update [11/13/2007]: Nice coverage of the project in the Cornell Chronicle: Student-created labyrinth plants the way for a perennial path to peace.

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Janis Ruksans’ bulbs

Sunday before last, our Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society was treated to a spellbinding presentation by Latvian Bulb expert Janis Ruksans.

Now I’ve had my eyes glazed over by what we called back in the days of carousel slide projectors the ‘two-tray presentation’ — photo after photo ad nauseum until it’s all just a blur. But the three PowerPoints Janis presented will stay with me for a long time.

His first presentation was an overview of the incredible bulbs he’s gathered in his plant explorations throughout the former Soviet Union. It included this startling image of Anemone ranunculoides mutations gathered from around Chernobyl. Scary.

mutated flowers from around chernobyl
Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.

This Scilla armena caught my eye among the scores of other images of unusual bulbs he showed.

Scilla armena
Photo by Janis Ruksans, used with permission.

The first presentation was followed by hour-long presentations on fritillarias and corydalis. They were all amazing.

I wish I could point you to Janis’s website for more information. But he doesn’t have one. He puts out a print catalog in January. Propagates plants until August. Then fills orders. If you want his catalog, you have to send $5 cash (with the declining dollar, maybe he’ll raise that this year) to: Janis Ruksans, Bulb Nursery, P.K. 441, LV-1010 Riga, Latvia. I’m trying to talk him into letting me post his catalog online. But it looks like he gets all the business his family needs the old-fashioned way.

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but friends I trust tell me his book published this year by Timber Press, Buried Treasures: Finding and Growing the World’s Choicest Bulbs, is a great read. It will be on top of my reading pile before the snow flies.

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Bee on Colchicum autumnale ‘Alboplenum’

bee on colchicum

Click images for larger view.

Actually, I wasn’t actually sure what this flower was. But I googled for awhile and found a post about Colchicum autumnale ‘Alboplenum’ over at Kathy’s Cold Climate Gardening. Turns out that according to my records (that tattered file folder with random packing slips shoved into it), I bought half a dozen colchicums in 2003. But this is the only one that’s still around.  (If you think it’s something else, let me know.)

Couldn’t decide which one I liked best during picture editing, so here’s more.

bee on colchicum

Sharpening did weird things to this one. As a photo, I don’t like it. As a special effect, kind of interesting.

bee on colchicum

bee on colchicum

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