I’m finally ready to admit it’s fall and then what happens? The rains stop, the thermometer rises, and we’re right into the middle of a stinkin’ heat wave. I would have loved this at the start of the month when the pool was still open, but now it’s just making the gnats hungry and me grumpy. Fortunately it’s colchicum season and between that and the chrysanthemums things look somewhat refreshing around here (provided you only go out in the morning or near sunset!)
I’ve written about colchicums before so I don’t want to rehash the same old info I always give out, but the short summary version for the autumn blooming types is… leafy clumps of hosta-like leaves in the spring fade away in May, and various shades of pink through white crocus-like flowers appear without anything else (naked!) in late summer and early autumn. I like them well enough 🙂
The trick to growing colchicums is to find a spot where the spring foliage won’t bother you as it dies back in early summer, yet the spot is open enough so you can see the flowers as they come up later in the year. For a while I had them all by themselves in a bed which was too dry for anything else, but as they’ve multiplied I’ve had to plant them outside my comfort zone and actually try and come up with decent companion plantings and landscape uses.
The plantings which have pleased me the most are the ones in ground covers rather than plain old mulch or bare soil. Sedums make a nice carpet and I have it in my head to try a lot more like this. Hopefully some of that will happen!
Unlike most bulbs which move best while dormant, colchicums also give you the option of procrastinating until bloom time and then having the much more enjoyable experience of digging and planting bulbs (actually corms if you’re going to get technical, and even then people will debate you) in full bloom and moving them to the exact spot you want to see them flower.
You really want to make sure they’re in a spot where you won’t miss the flowers. The big, bright ones are unavoidable but the smaller more detailed blooms are also worth your attention. Checkering, or tessellation, is something extra special and worth a closer look.
This flower also does doubles. I’m not the type of gardener who will drop any single just to pick up the double version, but these have their own charms… well maybe not charm since they’re so fat and double and pink, but they do pack a punch. I think of paper flowers when I see these, I don’t think it would too hard to replicate them in pink crepe paper if the need arose.
Who am I kidding? I love the double as much as any of the others, and if we’re being honest I really wouldn’t mind adding another couple new ones even if it was only to have another couple new ones. Just for the record I saw a few really tempting ones at my favorite local nursery, Perennial Point, and I did not buy one. Yes, I’m patting myself on the back.
I may be working through collecting issues with these bulbs, but there’s someone else out there who’s clearly gone over the edge. Her name is Kathy Purdy and if you’re a follower of Cold Climate Gardening you already know she has one of the largest colchicum collections around and will be opening her upstate New York garden this fall for the first time to show them off. I’m in, and if you’re interested >click here< to visit her blog for the details. Have a great week!