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JAUNTS: in and around the Valley

From Bulbs to Blossoms

Flower show at county arboretum will display easy-to-grow varieties.

April 16, 1998|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Spring is in the air and in Southern California that means lots of flowers.

And there's good news for those who want to enhance their yard with festive and colorful varieties: It's a relatively simple job, inexpensive and low-maintenance.

So says Elisabeth Lassanyi, organizer of this weekend's Amaryllis and Spring Flowering Bulb Show at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia.

Hundreds of scenic flowers grow easily and with minimal care in this part of the state, she says, because the Mediterranean climate is similar to their native countries.

"You name it, it grows here because of our fabulous climate," Lassanyi said. "Gladiolus, freesias, pineapple lilies, amaryllis . . . The list goes on and on."

And you can see many of them at the show, which is in its 34th year. Experts and knowledgeable gardeners will also be available to help the public with the basics of caring for the different types of flowers.

There will be more than 150 kinds that grow from bulbs. The secret, bulb experts say, is good drainage and not too much fertilizer.

The result is a vivid array of amaryllises, irises, calla lilies, tulips and freesias, all of which will be on display at the arboretum.

The flowers are all grown in gardens belonging to members of the Southern California Hemerocallis and Amaryllis Society, which sponsors the show.

Each year they showcase their best stuff and a panel of expert judges picks winners in several categories. It's a competitive yet friendly event that also proves entertaining for the public.

This year there will be a larger variety of flowers, Lassanyi says.

"We're kind of between seasons so we'll have a bit of everything. It's the tail end of the South African flowers but a bit early for the California natives."

The show will probably have more amaryllis than anything else. They come in a variety of colors, including red, pink, apricot, pastel yellow and white.

"We'll have about 40 different kinds," Lassanyi said. "Last year we had an entry that was a double white ruffled flower, which was gorgeous. Hopefully, it will be back this year."

The event will also offer informative demonstrations on everything from planting and hybridizing to the type of fertilizer to use and dealing with pests.

Experts will answer questions for hours and brochures will be available to take home. Also, bulbs will be sold starting at $5 each.

"You put them in the ground and the following year you get flowers," said Jake Yessian, a show participant. "They're actually kind of amazing."

He has his own secret for growing orchids and day lilies: "I use a planter and mix the fertilizer, sand and potting soil. It always works."

You can also pick up some great gardening tips by visiting the rest of the 127-acre arboretum, which includes a herbarium, library and plant information service.

There are more than 100 kinds of flowers, a tropical forest, plants from around the world, a wildlife refuge and a large lake with ducks.

Within the grounds are historic buildings from the 1800s such as the Hugo Reid Adobe, a California landmark, and the century-old Queen Ann Cottage, a national landmark.

The buildings and surrounding gardens are popular Hollywood sites that have served as the setting for many movies and television programs--and definitely worth visiting after the flower show.

BE THERE

The 34th annual Amaryllis and Spring Flowering Bulb Show at Los Angeles County Arboretum on Saturday, 12-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. See hundreds of colorful flowers that grow from bulbs, get tips from experts and purchase a variety of bulbs. Arboretum is at 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. Show is free with arboretum admission of $5 for adults, $1 for children. Information: (626) 447-7731 or 821-3222.

* Send Jaunts ideas, allowing at least two weeks' notice, to staff writer Irene Garcia at The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or send e-mail to Irene.Garcia@latimes.com.

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