One thing particularly stands out after many years of working with and appreciating plants: Everything about them is logical. We may be far from understanding exactly what takes place inside them, but I can tell you that what I have observed appears to occur logically and in sequence. Books such as this are seldom read from cover to cover as one would read a novel. It is hoped readers will find straightforward answers to their questions about bulbous plants here. I have tried to follow a logical sequence in putting this book together, and questions that may arise as a result of reading one section are answered in the next. If a reader thinks an answer is illogical, I would think that answer incorrect; I hope that would never be the case here!

One might ask, "Why another book on bulbs?" There are indeed many good books on these fascinating plants. In my own two-volume work, I address bulbs in an academic rather than scientific way, providing information I think essential to the understanding of these plants, and covering the wide range of genera that comprise "bulbs," in the broad sense of the word. However, I would be the first to admit that the twovolume work omitted many personal observations, comments and opinions. I have been connected with the profession of horticulture since the 1940s, and there was much I was not able to set forth in such a work. John E. Bryan on Bulbs approaches the subject in a personal way. Gardening should reflect what one likes, rather than another person's taste.

Bulbs have nearly always been a part of my life. I distinctly recollect the "onion men," as we called them, walking through the streets of my hometown of Plymouth, England. Hanging from the ends of stout sticks balanced on their shoulders were plaited strings of onions. Housewives purchased the onions, and the strings would grow shorter as the onion sellers progressed. My mother would remark that a certain man's onions surely were good because his strings were shorter. For the most part these men came from France, and wore colorful red scarves around their necks. The onions glistened in the sun with shiny, light brown coats, and all of them, I seem to remember, were of equal size.

Other recollections of bulbs (I must admit I did not know them as bulbs) were of the leeks certain Welsh regiments stuck in their hats on particular days; this remains a tradition today.

The next bulb I remember is the English bluebell. In spring the woods are filled with them. We would pick them for our mothers, but what a waste of time they just do not make good cut flowers. I remember being told it harms the bulb if the flowers are pulled. You were supposed to cut the stems; a length of 24 or more inches, about half of which is white because it grows underground, indicates just how deep these bulbs had grown into the soil. I knew nothing about contractile roots when I was picking bluebells, and I never gave a thought as to how the bulbs reached that depth when they started out as seed on the surface.

Hyacinthoides non-ecripta is a long name for the lovely English bluebell that carpets many woodland areas in springtime. These plants multiply quickly, but such beauty can never be a pest.

I became an indentured apprentice to a nurseryman in South Devon by the name of R. T. May, and for the princely sum of 10 shillings, I worked 48 hours a week. In those days we started work on time, and we worked hard, and I regard such practical experience as an essential ingredient of a sound career in horticulture. There is no good substitute for "handson" experience.

Forcing bulbs for the market is an operation that takes quite a lot of time. Wooden crates would arrive for the R. T. May nursery from Holland, and inside we would find paper sacks filled with the bulbs, with wood shavings used as packing material. Just after the war, bulbs were in short supply, and we handled them with great care.

At Somerset Agricultural College, the use of bulbs in the garden-simple elements of designwas just one aspect of bulb culture that occupied my time. Just how large an industry bulb culture is started to become apparent to me then. Anemone pulsatilla, A, coronaria, A. nemorosa, various ornamental onions such as Allium molt' and A. karataviense, Cyclamen species, dahlias, gladiolas, lilies, freesias and crown imperials were to be found in the collections grown. Bulbs' lovely forms and colors, the different shapes and textures, gave me much food for thought and, I think, formed a solid foundation of interest in these miracles of nature. To hold in your hand the dry tubers of anemones and then plant them and see, in a comparatively short space of time, the appearance of fernlike foliage, then dowers of wonderful color, is still a miracle to me.

I worked with bulbs at the Parks Department of the city of Bournemouth; as a student at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh; and during my graduate studies at the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden at Wisley. I can remember, while at Wisley, seeing lilies produced at the Oregon Bulb Farms planted among rhododendrons and azaleas, and noting how well they were suited for such areas. No matter how well known and busy my mentors and teachers were, they took time to talk with me, something I have never forgotten. So, even when I am feeling rather rushed and have much to do, I try to find time for those to whom I may be of some help, remembering how generous others were m sharing their experience with me.

When I was awarded the Gardeners Scholarship in 1955, I chose to study in Holland, even though I wasn't considering a career in the bulb industry. I wanted to see more of this country so intimately connected with bulbs and with other sectors of the nursery business. During my last year of studies, I had the good fortune to work in Paris. (For the education of any person, a sojourn in Paris is recommended! Even on a student's stipend it is a fun city.) I was very fortunate to have an introduction to that great landscape architect Russell Page, and indeed had the pleasure of working with him during my entire stay in France. Many an instructive hour was spent with him, and he heightened my interest in bulbs.

After my years in France, I left Europe to settle in the United States. Jan de Graaff offered me a position in his prestigious firm, the Oregon Bulb Farms. Now, occupied with bulbs every day, I found myself truly "hooked."

Jan de Graaff pioneered the cultivation of lilies. With Earl Hornback, Harold Comber and later Ed McRae, de Graaff brought one hybrid lily after another into the gardening world. His Mid Century Hybrids opened the floodgates, and today the modern hybrids available in many colors in the many forms of the Asiatic Hybrids are entirely due to the original work he accomplished in Gresham, Oregon. From those days I especially recall the thrill of examining new hybrids flowering for the first time, and the ticklish work of naming new introductions. After I left the farms of de Graaff, I spent several years at the Strybing Arboretum as director. As the arboretum was part of the Parks Department of the City and County of San Francisco (and thus short of funds) I made use of my contacts to obtain many thousands of bulbs. We conducted experiments seemingly without end, and sent information back to Holland, where it was used to prepare booklets for gardeners growing bulbs in warmer climates.

Jan de Graaff and the author. One of my great memories is working with Jan de Graaff. In summer we would select, from thousands of seedlings, plants we considered worthy of being named. (Photo courtesy of Herman V. Wall.)

In the late seventies I had the opportunity to visit South Africa. If I had loved bulbs before, I was enraptured after seeing such genera as Freesia, Agapanthus, Dierama, Dieted, Ornithogalum, Anapalina, Babiana, Bulbine, Clivia, Crinum, Drimia, Gloriosa, Haemanthus, Ixia, Lachenalia, Nerine and Tritonia, to name but a few, growing in their native habitats. There is undoubted beauty in the selections and hybrids of genera we grow in our gardens. But the purity of form and subtle colors of plants in the wild, when growing well, cannot be surpassed. Even after many trips to this part of the world, I am still thrilled by bulbs growing in the wild. One of my granddaughters has, as her middle name, Anapalina.

I am so pleased that I am encouraged by the publishers to make this book a personal one, to share with readers thoughts long held but not recorded elsewhere. As you read this book, do remember that the opinions expressed are mine, and that the selections of genera, species and cultivars are a reflection of my interests. After such a rich and pleasant life with these, my favorite plants, I hoped I might have a few helpful points to pass on to the reader. If I accomplish this, I will be glad. If I do not, I am nonetheless happy to again set pen to paper to write about bulbs!

This yellow Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis `Lutea') is magnificent in springtime, bold and clean looking, long lasting and a good companion for other spring-flowering bulbs.