Colchicum season is long over, and I can’t even remember all the reasons why I didn’t write this post in a timely manner. I do remember finally getting all the photos processed, and promising myself I would upload them after dinner. And before I could do so, the DSL line was ripped off our house by a too-tall truck (we presume, since we didn’t see it) driving by, and that derailed me for another several days. (Details here.) Better late than never, right? On with the show!
As you can see, colchicums come in a range of sizes, shapes, and intensity of color. (The ‘Poseidon’ in this picture had the tube broken off and is typically taller than #8 but not as tall as #12.) These were all blooming in the middle of colchicum season–what I think of as the peak–since you still have a few of the early bloomers hanging on and a few late bloomers joining in early. Peak bloom varies from year to year, but I’d say the third week in September was the peak this year.More on ‘Lilac Wonder’ here. At the base of the same stone wall where ‘Lilac Wonder’ blooms at the top, ‘Giant’ steals the show. It’s not the most intensely colored flower, but because of its size, it’s easily visible from a distance. ‘Giant’ multiplies quickly, so if you buy one, you’ll soon have enough to front a wall as I have done. (I have concluded that the impostor discussed here is actually ‘Giant’.)Click to see Matt Mattus’ visit to my garden, featuring ‘Giant’ and other colchicums.
Will the real colchicum please stand up?My original ‘Poseidon’ came from Odyssey Bulbs. This year I received one from Daffodils and More. Both the old and the new flowers have the same markings inside, however, and I’m wondering if the flowers of a more mature corm grow larger than a relatively young offset. Either that, or one of these plants is not the genuine ‘Poseidon’! On the other hand, the first year my original ‘Poseidon’ bloomed, it looked an awful lot like the newcomer. And this year I ordered a new ‘Zephyr’ to compare it with the original. But as with the two ‘Poseidons’, the markings inside are the same. For comparison, here’s my original ‘Zephyr’. I think I will wait a year or two before deciding if one of them is an impostor. Just for fun, here’s a test of your observational skills. (Answer at the end if you’re having trouble.) Yes, colchicums are often mixed up in the trade. That’s why David Burdick of Daffodils and More sells this one as ‘TBD’–he doesn’t know its true identity. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that it’s the true Colchicum speciosum.Click to see ‘Spartacus’ in 2013, its first year.C. giganteum is not nearly as tall as ‘Giant’ and has a distinctive Y-shaped blossom. ‘Disraeli/Beaconsfield’ used to be the most intensely colored, tessellated colchicum in my collection. No more! They have been unseated by ‘Glory of Heemstede’. Va-va-va-voom! (Since this is new in my garden, it will probably bloom at a different time next year.)
Colchicums in the garden
Head shots of flowers let you see the details, but not how they look in a garden setting. This bed in front of the house has both some early bloomers and some mid-season flowers.Seen from afar, some of them look pretty similar. The differences are in the details.
How to find Poseidon amongst the Zephyrs: ‘Zephyr’ has a white throat–almost like someone filled it about a third of the way up with white paint. ‘Poseidon’ is solidly colored with lilac-pink, except for a line of white on each petal radiating out from the center. The one ‘Poseidon’ corm is located at bottom center with multiple flowers blooming from it. At the old house, these two cultivars were planted next to each other, and that one ‘Poseidon’ jumped into the wrong bag when I brought them over to the new garden. But I never noticed it until this year!