I’m halfway enjoying fall this year. Yes, everything is dying, it’s too dry, and we face months of snowy gloom, but right now the fall bulbs are blooming and it’s a little bit of rebirth right before *the end* (sorry but I will never actually look forward to the arrival of winter). The hardy cyclamen, in this case cyclamen hederifolium, have been blooming for several weeks now.
I was ambitious this year and spread a little shredded wood mulch around the cyclamen bed. For a while it looked immaculate under the cherry….. but within minutes the dirty little tree resumed its leaf dropping….
Last winter the polar vortex was brutal on these little guys. Fortunately they’ve shrugged off the foliage loss and act as if nothing at all happened. I wish I had clearer photos, but out of the dozens of cyclamen pictures I took, these were the only two which came out halfway in focus. I need a photo mentor who can begin to point out some of my worst mistakes 🙂
For me the best thing about these hardy cyclamen hederifolium are the leaf patterns, but the flowers aren’t too shabby either….
Cyclamen are the best, but colchicums follow at a close second. Actually the colchicums do put on a more impressive show, but it’s all or nothing with these ladies, and ends more quickly than the slow and steady cyclamen display.
Most of my favorite colchicums are together in this bed. It’s bone dry (the third gooseberry bush actually died this summer) but the bulbs seem right at home.
I’ve devoted the way-too-dry-for-vegetables end of the veggie patch to colchicums and daffodils, and they seem happy enough here, but as the garden grows I’m thinking there might be something better to do with this spot for the other 11 months of the year. Amaranthus once filled the bed, but the soil was too dry for them to survive this summer.
New this year, colchicum ‘‘Harlekijn’ is what I’d call “interesting”. Most pictures show more pink to the bloom, but that might change from year to year. Overall I like the curious rolled (or quilled) petals and they do make for something ‘different’ 🙂
The few colchicums I have planted in the meadow seem just as happy and to my eye look a little more comfortable growing amongst the barely green grass. In fact the only bulb of colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ to bloom for me is this one planted in the lawn.
The colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ planted in the official colchicum bed don’t bother blooming. This one in the lawn seems marginally more happy and is even gracing us with the sprouting of a second flower bud.
The (I think ) ‘Lilac Wonder’ planted in the lawn is possibly my favorite colchicum. It blooms long, large, and heavily and makes quite the pool of color. I’m thinking next summer might see a lot of these moving around, since they’ve multiplied like rabbits and are ready for dividing, but it’s not something I want to tackle this fall.
Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ growing happily in the (now mowed) meadow.
You might be wondering why I’m even talking about moving flowering bulbs in the fall. According to what I’ve read and heard (and done) colchicums are ok to move while in bloom. It’s probably better to wait till the foliage dies in the summer and the bulbs are dormant, but I’m more of a do it while you remember kind of guy, and it’s much easier (and more fun) to move them while in bloom. You can’t always be a slave to your plants you know, and every now and then they have to just suck it up and deal with things at a less than perfect time.
This unknown clump of colchicums which I call “not the giant” comes from a single stray bulb left behind from the last digging. It’s in full bloom and the roots have just begun to sprout from the base of the corm…. even in soil so dry I could have used a dust mask while digging.
Obviously you want to take a little care with the roots while planting, but to be honest I was more concerned about snapping off the blooms. Instant gardening is what I call this, and the bulbs were planted individually right under the turf without any soil prep.
Two days later the blooms look as fresh as the day I dug them. After being planted into more bone dry soil… and not even watered while transplanting… this will be a true test of how well colchicum handle autumn transplanting. We’ll revisit next fall!
Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening is a truly addicted colchicum lover (I’m just a dabbler), and her recent post on how colchicums know when to bloom asks a lot of the same questions I have. They’re growing in soil so hard and dry I don’t even know how the roots penetrate the soil, yet they do, and cyclamen perform a similar trick. Somehow these bulbs seem to have an odd internal clock that just goes off one day and they start growing. Maybe it’s better I just ignore this heavy thinking and stick to enjoying the blooms, so here’s one last flower to end the post. Not hardy, it’s one of those odd things that find their way into your online cart and then surprise you when you’ve forgotten all about that weak moment with a gift certificate.
A fascinating flower shape, bessera elegans also comes in a rare deep purple. Mine are just blooming and I love it. Keep in mind though that the foliage is a floppy mess of green. Imagine thin dark green daffodil leaves so spineless they can’t lift themselves up off the ground and you have an accurate picture.
So fall flowers are off to a strong start. I wish I had an autumn snowdrop to go with them, but I fear I’ve killed off my one bulb. Obviously I don’t want to talk about it