Cape Bulbs: Their Collection, Cultivation and Conservation by Richard L. Doutt

By Richard L. Doutt

The Cape Province of South Africa enjoys a Mediterranean weather just like that of a lot of California, however the unique bulbs local to the area can, with right care, be grown in harsher & wetter climates. This booklet describes the author's favorites, all of which he has effectively grown in his backyard.

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1979) reported that only about 10 percent of Drimia altissima bulbs flower at the Karoo Botanic Garden each year. They also reported a paucity of flowers in Brunsvigia josephinae; a population of 20 bulbs produced no flowers in 1977, but following good rains and a good 1978 growing season, 14 of the bulbs flowered. This skipping a season and remaining dormant for a year may be much more common in Cape bulbs than we now know.

The National Botanical Institute issues a wholesale seed catalog. For information on this catalog write The Director: Gardens, National Botanical Institute, Kirstenbosch, Private Bag X7, Claremont 7735, Republic of South Africa. In regard to conservation, the International Bulb Society (formerly The American Plant Life Society) has published concerns about the harvesting of threatened or endangered species from the wild for the world's bulb trade. Some in the conservation movement express the sentiment that wild species should not be cultivated or kept in private hands.

At Kirstenbosch the bulbs are grown either in long, narrow, concrete-walled and sand-filled beds or in containers and pots. All the plants are under a roof shelter of transluscent plastic that keeps out the occasional summer rains. In fact, all the growers I visited in South Africa have the plants under some kind of shelter, usually shade cloth. Shade cloth is also used at the arboretum of the University of California at Irvine, which has a substantial collection of Cape bulbs. The shade cloth may function as a substitute for the shelter that shrubs provide to many bulbs in the veld.

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