Don't panic - this is not a picture from the website of the dreaded TyTy Nursery in Georgia; just reading the scathing reviews of this establishment on the many newsgroups is enough to send one screaming into the night. I have to say that my one experience in ordering from them resulted in what has become a huge clump of C. scabrum - luckily I only ordered the one bulb, because it arrived unlabled and rolling around in a box. Actually, this is my favorite roommate, Ron, posing (under duress) with my favorite Crinum (and not just because Scott Ogden says that it should be), a hybrid called 'Emma Jones'. Ron's 5'11" when he stands up straight, so it's obvious that this plant is a whopper. About 10 years old, it has over a dozen scapes in evidence now, and will continue to produce them sporadically until frost knocks it down. They smell amazing, and if you take a few minutes to stake them, they open right at nose level. Here's a better view of the open flowers: When I started collecting Crinums, they were all but unavailable, and the best way to get them was by knocking on doors in the country (generally homes which harbor old clumps of Crinum don't have doorbells) and begging. Since this is unpalatable to intrinsically shy people (and mortifying to their traveling companions), the internet has been a great boon as the popularity of the genus has grown. Ebay, in particular, can be a good source of material, but only for those armed with some knowledge ahead of time. There are some sellers who've really done their homework and take pains to make sure that their plants are accurately labeled, and then there are those who dig up bulbs out of their yards, arbitrarily name them after their grandchildren or their chihuahas, and list them for sale. Some mainstream nurseries are carrying crinums as well, and their catalogs can be good sources of information and illustrations, even if the bulbs are actually purchased from a less expensive source (don't tell Tony Avent I wrote that...)
The above plant is one that I literally inherited from my Grandmother Joyner - it grew in a solid mass along the foundation of her house, and had done so for at least 30 years when I got it in 1993. To the best of my knowledge, it's one of the bulbispermum x americanum hybrids, either "Carolina Beauty" or "Miss Elsie". Anyway, it's completely hardy, blooms early and repeats sporadically, and multiplies in wet or dryish soil. I also grow a related hybrid, 'Ollene', which performs similarly. Below is a representative of the xherbertii grex, very commonly seen as huge, isolated clumps growing in trailer parks and in front of run-down country shacks; all the members of this group share C. bulbispermum x scabrum parentage.
Speaking of clumps in front of shacks, that's where the healthiest, most productive clumps of crinum seems to grow. Many of mine are too hemmed in by other plants, so they don't have the elbow room they need to grow into specimens such as my neighbor Jane's spectacular C. powellii album - it's taller, and much broader than she is by far, and had several dozen scapes open last month, when I should have taken their picture together. If she ever moves, or gets tired of it, I may plant that variety, but as it is, I don't have to!
Above is 'Ellen Bosanquet', the most common of the "reds", and below is one of its taller, slightly darker (although that's not apparent in this photo, due to exposure), progeny, "Elizabeth Traub",blooming in front of Canna 'Australia'. I recently splurged on a bulb of 'Lorraine Clark', reportedly the deepest red hybrid available - nothing to report yet regarding its performance here.
C. 'White Prince', a hybrid of C. album (aka yemense) x moorei. And C. moorei itself, showing the interesting, balloon-shaped bud form. In general this whole branch of the family - mostly late-blooming white hybrids, such as 'St. Christopher', has been less successful for me. They return well, but tend to multiply vegetatively at the expense of bloom. When they do bloom, they are attractive, but need protection from direct sun (hence the browning of the bud tips apparent in the photo).A big clump of 'Walter Flory', growing happily next to our dilapidated back fence - I told you they prefer trashy locations! C. americanum, which prefers boggy conditions and is nearly indistinguishable from C. erubescens, which does well in a drier location. Here's C. erubescens:
Amarcrinum, an intergeneric hybrid between C. xpowellii and Amaryllis belladonna, tends to finish the season here. It produces multiple scapes of clear pink trumpets with an incredible scent, which is amazing in the October garden. The ones I cut and took to the visitation when my grandmother died could be "enjoyed" (not everybody was appreciative...) from all over the church sanctuary.I could go on and on writing about the virtues of the diverse group of gardenworthy, dependable, vole-proof plants in the Amaryllis family, but "Black Tuesday" (the day after Labor Day, in "teacherspeak") approaches, and others have done so much more capably than I ever could. I'm sure that I have more than 100 different such species and hybrids in even my small garden, and that's not counting the narcissus, which are legion. I'd love to keep posting pictures and extolling the virtues of the Hippaestrums, Leucojum, Lycoris, Sternbegia, Hymenocallis, Cyrtanthus, Rhodophialas, Habranthus, Zephyranthes (I must have more than 30 different "rain lilies" at this point), and other genera, but I have to attempt to shift back into "music teacher mode" over the next couple of weeks, so this'll have to do. My goal is to try to create entries on or near "bloom days", at least, but I think the time for extensive writing may be at an end, for now (much to the relief of friends and family, I'm sure!)