Well folks, the Dragon Arum is so close to revealing its sinister wonders that we can almost smell it already! And the flies are dispatching aerial squadrons at this moment to our Woodland Garden ... When I looked early this morning it was definitely showing signs of unfurling imminently, and once I was done with work and went out to look again, we both could tell there had been movement at the base of the bloom over the course of the day. Our prediction is that (like last year) it will open overnight and already be shocking the neighborhood in the early morning hours....
If you are a regular reader here, you already know that Fernymoss and I have a strong penchant for the flashy, odd and downright bizarre plants, and our Dragon Arum is currently the reigning king of the garden. When we first saw this (and other Arums) in a catalogue, we knew that we just had to have at least one ... our only fear was that it wouldn't be hardy to our zone (officially 5a, but tending strongly to 6 these days).
Though listed at Van Bourgondien as zone 6 and higher, we decided that we could at least come close to providing that, with some protection from the house and a fall mulching. So we planted it in fall 2005 and hoped for the best ... in Spring 2006 we got a good sized spike and lots of foliage, but no bloom yet. Late last May, just as the peonies were in full bloom (as they are again this year), IT finally emerged! Though it only lasted 3 or 4 days, it sure attracted slow drives by our house, and the pedestrians who use our Woodland walkway often stopped to stare in wonder. Yes, it's that dramatic. As far as we know, we're the only ones with one of these bizarre beauties in the neighborhood, though in a city as large as Des Moines, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some other connoisseur of the bizarre has planted one of these arums. But then, maybe for once, we're ahead of the curve! With regard to cultivation, Dracunculus vulgaris seems to prefer a mostly sunny, part shade exposure, which is exactly what it gets in our Woodland beds ... Eastern morning sun, part shade during the afternoon, followed by late afternoon Western sun ... and it seems perfectly happy with such a situation. Given that this year, six more spikes came up this spring, I think we can safely say that it's quite happy in its current position, and we have no intentions of changing that! We had thought earlier that we might get more than one bloom this year, but at this point we think the new ones will merely be putting up leaves this year. So be it, if that is the way it goes, but we're betting we'll have more next year! But in any case, we're eagerly awaiting seeing it in the morning, and since I'll be working, (and Fernymoss works late today), so I should have updated photos to post tomorrow night, so come back and take a look!
Notes on these shots: The first displays the telltale 'red stripe' that serves as a prelude to the full bloom. The second shows just how long the entire bloom is ... some 25 inches! And the third gives a perspective of how big the entire plant is .. we're estimating it to be about 5 feet tall at this point! Supposedly they can go as far as 6 feet, so who knows what next year will be like? Photos by Fernymoss, taken on 10 June, 2008, with our new best friend, the Fuji S700!