September blooms and garden chores

– Posted in: Colchicums, Garden chores, Pests, Plagues, and Varmints
1 comment

It has remembered it can rain. We have had rain and snow on the fires enough to get them contained, clear the air, and make some plants bloom out of season. Oriental poppies & rosemary both must be thinking, wow, that was awful, it must be spring now that it is better. The inch, inch & a half we got is long dry now and I am back to watering, carefully adjusting sprinkle heads not to knock down the fall crocus & colchicums. (You could write the colchicum article for us as a sneak peek, Kathy, we’d appreciate it!).

The white fall crocus are spectacular at the foot of the Kwanzan cherry, setting off its already red leaves and the last pink strawberry blossoms. One day they were not there, the next, poof! I had crocus. The colchicums are powering on, blooming since the end of August and still looking good. I have a collection of several varieties, two of which I can’t name; one from the late lamented Mrs. Ikeda’s garden, renowned ancient local masseuse and gardener: they are tall & large & fading to white in the center; the other are from a friend’s garden and were at her house before she was. These are smaller, all mauve, starry/twisty and tessellated with tiny checker marks. Their foliage has the same twisty effect. The white colchicums look remarkably like the white crocus but have thicker flower necks and less showy anthers. More flower punch from the white crocus (C. zonatus albus) but sadly edible and so less easily strewn about here. They need to go in lined beds and even that is not always reliable–the beds must have a collar.
(Very similar to the deer cages we use here. Every new fruit tree must have one, or be in a fenced orchard, until big enough to sustain deer pruning & elk & moose browsing.) The pruning line from these folks is far higher than the pasture & woods pruning done by cows or even horses. Deer stand up on their hind legs to reach, and elk & moose are just tall. We use Ropel spray on woodies over the winter as it tastes nasty to browsers and really cuts down on damage, but is not poisonous.

I am excited that I can finally be back digging (something other than an electrical trench). I finished filling the first refurbished bed last night with new topsoil, really sweet dark soil, a treat to work with. The humus content is high and the water holding ability far & away greater than my glacial sand. Today I will add some peat and ammendments like rock phosphate. (I am leery still of using the kelp meal which the bear found so tasty it dug up my Eremurus.) Then I get to settle in lining out plants, many of which have been moved up several times over the summer as I waited to get to this point. The kittens in the greenhouse will be agog over my invading their territory to move the plants out. Some things in there have become very very flat lately as they are on the sunny side of the house…

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Kathy October 3, 2003, 5:37 pm

Any chance you would like to swap colchicums next year? I am especially interested in those unnamed ones you mention, but I wonder what other ones you have. By the time I am done with my colchicum posts, you will know about all my varieties.