Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diary September 2011 - Mini-blog

Somehow all that heat and humidity of summer has faded and autumn is here! Now having said that, half of that statement is a lie. It was 27 degrees today and HOT in the sun! But that's typical fall in Ontario - hot, summer-type days mixed in with very cool ones. Ahhh....I love the seasons. Well 3 of them anyway.
I thought I would do a short entry about some really interesting flowers my friend Lynn from Hort Society told me about years ago and then gave me. They are called Autumn Crocus.

Here they are in a sea of periwinkle (which I need to drastically eradicate this fall or next spring. I mean, call in the bobcat and dig that ground cover OUT!)
Here's some information from Wikipedia:
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady, is a flower which resembles the true crocuses, but flowering in autumn. (This is not a reliable distinction, however, since there are many true crocuses that flower in autumn.) The name "naked lady" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back.
And that's true.
In the spring I get all these long tulip-like leaves that come up. I often forget I have them so I see the leaves and wonder what they are? Oh yea! These are the great flowers that will appear out of nowhere again in the fall!

Colchicums are not related to the crocus family at all, but are members of the lily family (Liliaceae). Another common name for colchicum is meadow saffron. This too is a misnomer. Colchicums are in fact poisonous and are not edible like the crocus that produces saffron, which we use in cooking.
I have light mauve coloured ones but they also come in light pink, magenta and even white.

Here are the planting instructions:
Plant colchicum corms as soon as possible after you purchase them. If they are left in a warm location for any length of time, they will bloom without being planted. Set the corms 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) deep and about 15 cm (6 inches) apart. In the spring their 15- to 20-cm long strap-like leaves emerge. By early summer the leaves turn yellow and die back. At this point, the plant can look a bit messy. If you plant colchicums among low growing perennials or in front of a group of deciduous shrubs, the unsightly foliage can be nicely disguised. In September or October the plant starts to bloom. Once established, colchicums multiply annually.
Colchicums prefer a sunny but sheltered location. Although they do tolerate some shade. They are hardy from zones 4 to 9.
When the plants begin to look crowded, divide the clumps by carefully lifting them and separating the individual corms. Do this just after they have flowered to avoid damaging the corms. Replant immediately about 15 cm (6 inches) apart.

Here are some tips about Autumn Crocus as well as some specific recommended varieties:

In the fall avoid raking the leaves where colchicums are planted. The fallen leaves provide a lovely backdrop for the flowers and help to support the flower stems. (OR keep a small patch of periwinkle just to surround the colchicums. Hmmm...may be dangerous considering how periwinkle spreads!)

Colchicums are poisonous and rodents and deer leave them alone.

Recommended Varieties:

•Autumnale 'Album' has white flowers and is smaller than most. They bloom in mid-fall growing 13 cm (4 to 6 inches) high.

•Autumnale 'Alboplenum' has large, white, double flowers with several blooms to each bulb. They bloom mid-fall growing to13 cm (4 to 6 inches) high.

•Autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ ('Roseum Plenum') is a rosy, double flowered, late blooming variety that grows 13+ cm (4 to 6 inches) high.

•Bornmuelleri has large rosy purple, fragrant flowers with a white heart and purple anthers. It grows 20+ cm (8 inches) high.

•Byzantinum produces up to 6 pale pink flowers and is one of the earliest types to bloom. The leaves don't appear until spring and are broader and more ribbed than most. They grow 24+ cm (10 inches) or taller.

•Giant has bright rose/lilac flowers with a white centre and base. It is one of the tallest and largest, growing over 24 cm (10 inches) and is very free flowering from early to mid fall.

(Just thought I'd throw in a great autumn colour picture where the Autumn Crocus barely shows but trust me - it's there!!)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Diary September 2011 - Still some beauty left!

Climbing Rose "New Dawn'.....

I can't believe it's September and the summer months of July and August are already over!!! Today was the first day of school for many. Unbelievable how time flies.
This has been a rotten year for my garden. Partly my fault, partly the weather. I'm still working full time and all our weekends were booked this summer! I mean it - every single one! We were away more than we were home. I know that's a poor excuse for not caring for the garden and not watering but being too busy and having a summer that was dry as a bone = a sad, dried out backyard and front.
I realized that I had missed writing an August diary so I made sure I have a September entry.
As usual, as I walked around, some thing were still blooming despite the heat and drought. (Good old Mother Nature!)
Here are some of my garden's better moments at the present time:

I planted 3 of my small pots with Sedum and even if I forgot to water, they always look plump, juicy and healthy.

For my birthday, my Dad gave me a Bouganvillia. The instructions said that after blooming, I should cut all the branches back, place outside and it would come back. Hah! Leaf after leaf fell off until it was just a skeleton. In frustration I put it in a shady spot on the deck and literally forgot about it.
Look: the instructions didn't lie!! It DID come back! I'll take it back inside later this fall, fertilize it and see what happens.

The ever-faithful Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is beginning to turn pink, and then later - burgundy. The bees love it!

Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) are a late summer staple. They even look OK when all the petals fall off and just their little black heads remain!

One little Explorer rose is still blooming!

The shrub roses have developed hips. They bloom in June as a single pink-white blossom but only once. Then in September (now) the hips are all in their glory. I have never tried making rose hip tea, but I might.....

Years ago I grew Sweet Peas - that old-fashioned, fragrant climber. I never took care to collect the seeds but one set of them comes back year after year on the fence between us and the neighbours. It's lovely. I never disturb it knowing that way, it will come back again and again.

Even though they are not big and fluffy this year, annuals like impatiens at least provide colour right through til frost.

The Oak Leaf Hydrangea - in spring, big green leaves  - in summer, even bigger green leaves and beautiful white conical flowers - in autumn, the white first turns pink, then bronze. Later the leaves will go shades of red, yellow and orange. The perfect all-season plant!

 The small shrub rose beside the deck is coming back for its last hurrah! So so pretty.
Next weekend the plan is to buy new bulbs for spring. Connon's and Terra - here I come!