Sunday, March 08, 2009
A long wait for a florum
Autumn as well and truly with us now, with cold nights and dewier mornings predominating, along with a good dollop of rain for most of us. The garden centres are responding to the autumn surge – they seem to all be stocked up with fresh spring flowering bulbs. This weekend I went down to my favourite nursery to pick up some annuals for winter colour and found myself tempted by some of the small flowering reticulate irises I always fall for.
But autumn is not only a time for buying bulbs, it is also a time to enjoy those bulbs whose dormant time is over summer and who bounce into growth at this time.
I have had a surprise appear in a pot in the glasshouse. About ten years ago I sowed some seeds from an overseas supplier, which included a lot of seeds of bulbous plants. One in particular I was interested in seeing – one of the so called autumn crocuses, the Colchicums. The seed I bought was from C. longiflorum, one of the smaller species of this widespread northern hemisphere genus.
A few years later a number of leaves appeared in the pot and I anxiously awaited the first flowering of my new plant. There must have been a mix up as the flower that finally appeared in the bright blue pot (in spring I must add) was most assuredly not a Colchicum – rather it was a lovely form of the white Narcissus triandrus, one of my favourite bulbs. I was slightly disappointed, as I am a bit of a fan of Colchicums, but the treat of the lovely icy-white flowers took the edge off my disappointment.
Imagine my surprise then, when I went out to sow some Pacific Coast Iris seeds recently. There in the little blue pot that housed my white miniature daffodil is the most perfect little pale pink Colchicum flower– my long-awaited, and to be completely honest, nearly forgotten C. longiflorum. And what a little pet of a thing it is. It is about 100 mm high with a spreading set of six petals, more open than most other Colchicums I have seen, and with the most delicate baby pink colourings. I am entranced with my newest seedling – as I should be after ten years waiting for a flower.