I know a lot more about colchicums than I once did, thanks to the internet. And now I’m growing colchicums I never would have known about, if it weren’t for the internet and the people I’ve been able to “meet” through the internet.
A man with extensive connections in the Dutch bulb trade–I’ll call him Mr. C–sent me some colchicums from his family’s collection. To be more accurate, he sent me a spreadsheet listing all the bulbous plants in this collection, and I limited myself to colchicums that I didn’t already have and had never seen for sale in the U.S. They were shipped across the Atlantic and some were starting to bloom when I got them, so they may not look like their best selves. But I didn’t want to wait for another year to pass before I showed them to you.I already had a different C. bivonae, ‘Giona,’ which I purchased from Odyssey Bulbs. According to Odyssey Bulbs, ‘Giona’ is hardy to Zone 6, and I’m a cold zone 5. I planted ‘Apollo’ in the Herb Garden–right next to ‘Giona’. The Herb Garden is where I put all my “iffy” plants because it has the best drainage and the warmest microclimate, and I suspected that ‘Apollo’ would have the same hardiness as ‘Giona’.
However, ‘Giona’ has been thriving there, and I’m feeling brave enough (meaning I have a corm to spare) to try it in the rest of the garden. ‘Apollo’ has nice deep coloring and the tessellation (checkering) which is typical of C. bivonae. Since it was planted rather late, it’s not surprising that ‘Apollo’ bloomed later than ‘Giona’. I think ‘Apollo’ was darker. Maybe next year they will bloom at the same time so I can compare them.Of the five corms I was sent, only one bloomed, and because of the rain and lack of sunshine, the one bloom was rather underwhelming. Click here to see what I might expect next year. ‘Princess (or Prinses) Astrid’ also had intense color, but the flowers came up so rumpled I can’t really tell you more. It was one of the hybrids developed by Walter Blom, an American nurseryman who was better known for his daffodil breeding. (Walter Blom and Mr. C’s father were friends.) Before Mr. C named it, ‘September Sun’ was merely labeled 803-5. The tessellation and vivid color of this species are intriguing. I have it planted in the Herb Garden because I fear it won’t be hardy here. Even if the cold doesn’t kill it, this perpetual rain just might. I’ll let you know come spring if the leaves make an appearance.
I saved my favorite for last. It was described on the spreadsheet as a “mutant” of Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’. This was another one from Walter Blom. I thought when it bloomed I would see a pure white flower with a strange shape, perhaps like ‘Harlekijn’. But no.In English I think we’d be more likely to call ‘Special Delivery’ a sport of C. speciosum ‘Album’ rather than a mutant. A sport of a plant is a mutation, but “mutant” has the expectation that it will be ugly (I think) whereas sports are often desirable plants in their own right, as ‘Special Delivery’ certainly is.
One more Walter Blom hybrid, 403-2, was a complete no-show. That sometimes happens with newly-planted colchicums shipped from far away. I hope I get to see it bloom next year.
I have learned from my membership in the Crocus and Colchicum Facebook group that there are many colchicums available in other parts of the world that aren’t available here. I’d love to have the chance to grow ‘Ungarnrot’, ‘Jenny Robinson’, ‘Flamenco Dance’, ‘Teufelskralle’ and ‘Herbstkugel’–and those are just the ones I remembered to write down.