A Case of the Lazies

You would think that with all the hand sanitizer, distancing, staying at home, and hand washing, that there would have a sterile cloud surrounding me, but somehow I’ve still managed to catch a case of the lazies.  What a surprise, right?  I’ve never really shown much immunity, so all it really takes is a cloud across the sun, a temperature slightly too cool, or a day with a nice breeze to trigger a relapse.  I guess that happened.  My wife will tell me I should have worn a coat.  My son will ask if I want another donut.  It’s easy to see the struggle.

autumn perennial border

The front border as we roll into October. Heterotheca villosa ‘Ruth Baumgardner’ is the yellow daisy in front.  

A coffee and a donut make for a nice morning stroll around the garden.  Fancy people do scones and jam, but scones are crumbly, and I’d hate to waste a trail of jammy crumbles behind me as I take in the dewy garden.  As I walk, the dew and change to fall colors make it really obvious summer is over and I’m surprisingly ok with that.  The garden right now is a mix of summer lingerers and autumn bloomers, and although I spent last weekend leveling my mother inlaw’s garden and putting nails in the coffin of her 2020 season, here it’s a different story.  Cool things like the Heterotheca villosa are only now just coming into full flower.  This plant was shared with me a few years back by Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening fame, and it’s a native daisy which I cut back by half each June to keep bushy.  From what I’ve heard, ‘Ruth Baumgardner’ is named after a past president of the Perennial Plant Association, and was selected as a shorter form of the species, but that’s still relatively tall, hence the early summer chop.

red hot poker

Lingering rebloom on the red hot poker.  The bright color looks as good now as it did in July

If I weren’t so under the weather with my laziness I would be taking advantage of the more relaxed pace of pre-October and building that coldframe I’ve been mulling over for the last three weekends.  Unlike the last four years that I’ve been thinking about it,  this is the year it has to happen.  I’ve already lined up a few plants to go in (all my projects are usually the result of me painting myself into a corner plantwise), pulled out materials, piled them into the garage (where the car can’t go until this in done…), and now I just have to commit to a design.  ***spoiler alert** it’s based on an old shower door and leftover 2x4s so don’t set your hopes too high…

colchicum lilac wonder

Admiring colchicums is an excellent lazy day activity.  Here’s ‘Lilac Wonder’ flopping its way through the blue of leadwort.

Even just talking about a future coldframe has me exhausted, so let’s take one more look around the garden. The mums are coming, the colchicum are here, and in spite of a slight touch of disgustingly early frost, the garden still looks nice.

colchicum border

The former rock garden turned colchicum bed has been overrun with chrysanthemum seedlings.  Not for the worse though.  Colchicum ‘Innocence’ still found enough of an opening to show off.

A few early chrysanthemums.  I’ve killed off many (honestly it’s closer to most) of the larger flowered ones, but they’re my favorites.  Someday I dream of fussing and nurturing them enough to have those big show-worthy blooms, but this year just getting them staked them was a big first step.

chrysanthemum cheerleader

I believe this is ‘Cheerleader’.  Even under less than perfect conditions he tops out at 3+feet and requires some kind of support.

With the chrysanthemums starting in the potager I was happy to see that even with all the new beds and strict paths, there was still a nice crescendo of late summer chaos.  Verbena bonariensis and ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranthus still found their loopholes and there’s more than just dried tomato vines and over the hill zucchini filling the beds.

autumn potager

An overgrown mess is what I expect in October.  Fall veggies would be nice too, but there’s always the farmstand for that.

One veggie which I do want to show off is the sword bean (Canavalia gladiata) which has managed to grow up the pergola and put out a few pods in spite of the shortening days.  I admit to checking it every day as the foot long pods get fatter and fatter, and if anyone gets even remotely close to the potager I insist on showing them off.  At the suggestion of a friend I usually do it with a little “argh, these be my sword beans, argh”, but the magic of my humor is often met with an uncomfortably  blank stare.

sword bean

The sword bean.  It’s grown as a vegetable through India and SE Asia but I’m not sure if it’s edible here in Umrika.  

Now colchicums.  I looked and saw only three pictures were posted on this blog last year, so you’re welcome, but even after I killed half the ones I transplanted during the potager construction (leaving them out to dry in 97F full sun was not really as good an idea as I thought), there are still a few nice ones to show.

colchicum the giant

Colchicum ‘The Giant’.  I think this is the real thing, and it’s worth it to find.

The cooler, dry weather has made for an excellent season.

colchicum sparticus

Colchicum ‘Sparticus’ was too pale for me at first, but as the single bulb has turned into a bunching of blooms I’ve become a fan

colchicum harlekijn

Colchicum ‘Harlekijn’.  Love it or hate it you have to admit it’s unusual.

colchicum zephyr

Colchicum ‘Zephyr’.  The nerd in me enjoys this gathering of Cotinus, Colchicum, and Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus).  That’s a lot of Cs.

colchicum cilicium

Colchicum cilicium.  Maybe Colchicum cilicium ‘Purpureum’ according to the most recent buzz, but regardless I really like this little guy. 

colchicum giganteum

Colchicum giganteum… another one which might be getting a more correct naming of Colchicum speciosum giganteum group.

colchicum lawn

‘Lilac Wonder’ in the lawn between the swingset and trampoline.  I wonder if the kids will ever question why there were so many poisonous plants so close to their play areas…. although I like to think of the whole garden as their play area. 

colchicum speciosum

Colchicum speciosum (I don’t think it’s ‘The Giant’) in need of dividing.  A whole border filled with these might not be a terrible idea… hmmmm…

I’m surprised by how many colchicums this garden has acquired.  I blame thoughtful friends and the evils of social networking, but seriously if a yard full of colchicum is the worst viral pictures bring on then I’m all for it.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case.  In the meantime I’m looking for more, and I’m also obsessing about a new book.  Colchicum: The Complete Guide has recently come out as the definitive guide on species and many cultivars and I keep thinking what’s a full on obsession without a guidebook to follow?  It’s item number one on the Christmas list 😉

23 comments on “A Case of the Lazies

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Glorious colchicums, Frank! Your borders are looking fine as well.
    It only took me a week from last weekend’s frosts to let go of summer and embrace autumn, as the foliage colors ramp up. The past few warm days have helped, too. 😉
    Yesterday, we spent 3 hours planting up all the daffodil bounty you shared. They didn’t all fit in the new daff bed we created, so a handful are spread around for spring surprises. Really looking forward to seeing them all in bloom. Thanks again for your generosity!

    • bittster says:

      Heh heh, it was shocking to see how the colors had come on since I last drove up into the mountains for work Friday. I could get used to that!
      I’m completely envious your daffodils are already into the ground! I don’t even know where mine are all supposed to go, and really should have had a plan by now. Oh well. Freezing forecasts and swirling snow have a way of bringing on inspiration 😉

  2. Susan (Su) Wesely says:

    Love the Colchicum ‘Harlekijn’. Have you ever seen pictures of the North Hill Garden conifer planting, edged with hundreds of colchicum? It makes a stunning view.

    • bittster says:

      I just looked up the North Hill plantings and found a picture. Wow! That’s something, I never even knew about them although I do remember reading an article on colchicums in Horticulture magazine written by Joe Eck… maybe it’s time to see if I can dig it out and see what I’ve missed!

  3. The Colchicums are beautiful esp. the ones in the lawn. But don’t wait for Christmas for that book. I just ordered 2 garden books and 3 art titles so they will be on hand for the first snow storm. That way I won’t freak when winter arrives.

  4. rusty duck says:

    The cotinus/colchicum combo is inspired. I could get through a lot of donuts sitting and admiring that.

  5. Yes, this time of year it’s easy to forgive colchicums the way their leaves flop over and smother things. They look really nice with the Verbena bonariensis in the last photo, too.

  6. Cathy says:

    So much colour (my garden is dull, dull, dull right now!). Love those colchicum and that amazing sword bean . Never heard of it before! How do you eat them?

    • bittster says:

      I hope you get some relief from the heat and dry. Enough is enough.
      The sword bean is just for fun, it’s enough of a struggle to get anyone to eat the more common vegetables, let alone these oddities! I’m excited they made it this far, but a ripe bean pod would be quite exciting as well.

      • Cathy says:

        We’ve had lots of rain now, so the complaint is the mess the garden’s in. I’m going to look out for sword bean next year – fascinating! Sorry for the delay in the reply, but I’ve had endless computer melt-downs.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Surely you can whip up at least one meal that includes these sword beans. I have never heard of this veggie matey. What is not to love about any of these colchicums? I have never seen such a vast collection. An inspiration for sure. You definitely need that book.

    • bittster says:

      I don’t even know if you eat the bean pods, or the actual beans… seem such a shame to waste that amazing pod!
      The colchicums have been multiplying. I’m almost just as surprised as you to see just how many they’ve become 🙂

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Garden is looking fabulous. You’ve earned a bit of lazy time. Colchicum ‘Harlekijn’ is pretty cool.

  9. Whoa! The sword bean is well-named! Your Kniphofia is showing good endurance. Garden overall looking good!

  10. Annette says:

    That’s why I keep swimming into November, Frank, it boosts the immune system ; ! Don’t use too much sanitizer, it does the opposite. Still so much colour in your garden, love the colchicums. How long do they last? The pink flower between the chrysanthemums is an aster, isn’t it? do you know the name? it’s very pretty. Get well soon x

    • bittster says:

      I try to keep outdoors as much as possible but with allergies… ugh. I feel miserable today! Hopefully tomorrow’s rain helps, but i don’t think rain and wind will be good for the autumn foliage.
      If we are talking about the same pink flower it’s also a chrysanthemum, a seedling with quilled petals which I also like!

      • Annette says:

        oh dear, didn’t know your allergic 😨, I only have one allergy: against the stupidity and corruption that reigns our world, I know it can’t be cured 🤣 that chrysanthemum is gorgeous! take care xx

  11. Cathy says:

    Your colchicums are fabulous! I really love that pale creamy one and have never seen one like that before. The rest of the garden still looks great so late in the season!

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