For those of you just joining in, I am something of a colchicum aficionado. I collect colchicums the way some people collect fiestaware or baseball cards. I want to have one of each, and I want to make sure each one is authentic.
What are colchicums, anyway?
Colchicums are plants that grow from corms. Most of the ones that can be grown in North America bloom in the fall without any leaves. The leaves emerge in the spring–sometimes with seedpods, sometimes not–but no sign of flowers. The leaves gradually turn yellow and die back in early summer, leaving the dormant corm in the ground. It looks like nothing’s growing there until some time in the fall, the flowers pop up once again. So let’s take a look at the colchicums that bloom early in the season.
All of these are done blooming now.
‘Lysimachus’ won the prize for first bloom this year.
‘Lysimachus’ is a hybrid of C. autumnale
‘Drama Bunch’ with the other parent presumed to be C. haynaldii
. It has always impressed me with how many flowers come from just one corm.
C. autumnale ‘Karin Persson’
Karin Persson is a Swedish colchicum expert. This colchicum bloomed early as expected, but doesn’t look like the flower of the same name here.
This is its first year blooming for me, and sometimes the first year bloom is atypical, so I am withholding judgment at this point.
I don’t know who ‘Jochem Hof’ is, but he has a mighty fine colchicum named after him.
Spring of 2014, Jochem’s foliage didn’t look right, and that fall the flowers emerged tattered and unhappy. So after the foliage died down this year, I moved Jochem to new quarters and he seems much happier.
C. byzantinum, early and floriferous.
These were my introduction to the genus, growing among the peonies at our first house.
C. byzantinum ‘Innocence’
You don’t always see the slight pink flush of this white form, but it always has pink styles to reassure you that it is indeed C. byzantinum
C. autumnale ‘Nancy Lindsay’ playing peek-a-boo with Salvia forskaohlei
‘Nancy Lindsay’ is earlier and more vigorous than the straight species, and has an attractive purple perianth tube (not technically a stem, but it holds the flower up).
‘Beaconsfield/Disraeli’ consorting with ‘Hot Stuff’ Sedum spectabile
I bought C
. ‘Disraeli’ in 2012 from one source and C
. ‘Beaconsfield’ in 2010 from another source. I planted them in different locations. But after a while, I noticed they looked very similar–identical, in fact. This year I dug both of them up, mixed them together, and planted them around ‘Hot Stuff’ sedum. (Lord Disraeli’s estate was called Beaconsfield, so possibly they are synonyms. Or one of them is an impostor.)
Can you see the tessellation on Colchicum agrippinum?
is a bit fussier than some of the others, but I wanted it for its distinctly tessellated flowers. Tessella
means “small square” in Latin, and since colchicums were first described by people writing in Latin, that was the easiest way to say they were checkered.
C. speciosum ‘Ordu’ in happier times.
Missing from this lineup is ‘Ordu’, who only managed to send up a few tattered blossoms. I will have to relocate her next spring as I did ‘Jochem Hof’.
That wraps up the early season. I’ll post about the middle season next.
More about colchicums in the archives.