What an entertaining and educational meeting the Kangaroo Island Garden Club had at its August meeting.
Thirty members and two visitors were present to hear Greg Ruckert, president of the Lillium and Bulb Society of South Australia.
Greg had flown home to Nairne from Sydney the previous day, crossed by ferry and came to our meeting, complete with boxes of beautiful flowering bulbs, including lachenalias, standing stiff and tall just like their common name, "Soldier Boys".
Greg began gardening with his parents when young. He suggested giving our grandchildren a bulb in a pot.
They will probably enjoy looking after it and watching it grow and perhaps become interested in gardening.
He has shown flowers in many shows and won a "Champion of the Show" with a Dutch Iris. He has six national plant collections.
He showed lovely photos as he talked about the plants. He used proper botanical names so we would know exactly what to ask for if we wanted a particular plant.
Various state botanical gardens have a multitude of plants but home gardeners are an important gene pool with rare plants in old gardens or plants that have been passed down the generations.
Greg once rescued a whole bed of rare plants, just before they were ploughed in for a housing estate.
Greg went on a conducted tour to China and brought back 30,000 plants including potted aroids. Some of us have admired aroids without knowing their name. What looks like one flower is many tiny flowers tightly clustered on a central stem wrapped around by a special leaf, usually coloured.
South Africa have been developing Lachenalias since 1850 and Australia has imported many lachenalias from there. These bulbs usually do well here.
One reason is that, being in the same hemisphere as us, their growing rhythm is not out by six months like bulbs that are imported from northern hemisphere countries.
It is best, if possible, to buy plants from good nurseries. Some chain stores are careless with their nursery sections. Greg gave us an example, "Hippeastrum bulbs grown in plastic covers."
The bulbs flower and look good but they are rotting inside. So sad! No bulb deserves this treatment! Also they sometimes have wrongly named. We are lucky to have two good nurseries in Kingscote.
Allen Bell thanked Greg and gave him some jars of Kangaroo Island honey.
The Flower of the Month display was colourful. Maureen Slagter won with a beautiful yellow iris. The meeting closed with afternoon tea and informal chitchat
Next meeting on Tuesday, September 24 will be visits to three Pelican Lagoon Gardens. Meet at The Lions' Park, Kingscote at 10.30am. BYO lunch, chair and mug. - Joan Jenkins