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Posts Tagged ‘Orange flowers’

The muted colors of the autumn season will soon be upon us, the plants are beginning to look tired from the long hot summer. The end of the season brings on a slow decline. It is harvest time, the moon is big and the crops are high and full of ripeness. Certain plants remind me of this season because I would only see them now when I was growing up in the north. Dahlias are the flowers I remember being huge and have brilliant and interesting petals and color combinations.

A sumptuously colored Dahlia with a 'Ball' classification of flower.

A sumptuously colored Dahlia with a 'Ball' classification of flower.

There are about 35 species of Dahlias which all originated from central America, from Mexico through Guatemala, Hondurans Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other areas. The first Dahlias which was documented were encountered by Francisco Hernández de Toledo(1514-87, who was a naturalist and physician to the King of Spain. He was sent on the first scientific exploration of the new world in 1571 and spent 7 years gathering and classifying specimens he collected and interviewing the local people on their use. His works were published in 1615.

The first species Dahlia recorded would have been single flowered and look something like this.

The first species Dahlia recorded would have been single flowered and look something like this.

Later another botanist, French Nicolas-Joseph Thiéry de Menonville was sent to Mexico in 1776 to steal cochineal insects (the source of red dye at the time). He went unofficially succeeded in bring back the insects. In the notes of his adventure he notes Dahlias were unusually attractive flowers. Dahlias where first grown in Europe at the Madrid in the botanical gardens there in 1789. The seed had been sent from the botanical gardens of Mexico. The first plants were named  Dahlia coccinea in 1791.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'(1924) is one of the most famous culitvars of the past and is now widely available.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'(1924) is one of the most famous culitvars of the past and is now widely available.

Other seeds of different species where later germinated in England and roots were sent to Netherlands to grow. Crossbreeding began from these original collections of plants is where all our fancy Dahlias come from today. During the 19th century thousands of new cultivars where grown and the best were selected for their brilliant colors and unusual flower and petal forms. The name Dahlia honors Anders Dahl who was a Swedish botanist.

This brilliant bi-color Dahlia is classified as a ' Semi-Cactus' flower form.

This brilliant bi-color Dahlia is classified as a ' Semi-Cactus' flower form.

Since 1900 flower forms have been classified into groups. Dahlias are now bred for competition which is very popular here, at this time there are test gardens and competitions which are judged. Kids love the flowers which can range in size from the small cm(2in) to 30cm(1ft) or more in diameter. The overall size of the plant also have an extraordinary range from less than 60cm(2ft) to 3.5m(10ft). The range of color and petal forms and heights is due to the fact that they are homologous and have 8 sets of chromosomes compared to the normal 2 which most other plant have.

This Dahlia cultivar exhibits not only very unual petals, but, also streaks of colors in them.

This Dahlia cultivar exhibits not only very unual petals, but, also streaks of colors in them.

The popularity of Dahlias is partly do to the ease of growing them and their availability in such a range of colors and forms. You can buy them anywhere that plants are sold as roots, seeds or in packs of small plants.  Like all good plants they like rich, deep, well-drained soil with plenty of nutrients. They need full sun and plenty of water during their growing and blooming stages, this will help them avoid getting unsightly mildew(greyish powdery fungus on their leaves). The larger flowered types should be in a shelter  from strong winds.

The vivid colors of Dahlia flowers are hard to overlook in the garden at this time of the year.

The vivid colors of Dahlia flowers are hard to overlook in the garden at this time of the year.

Although Dahlias are considered hardy annuals and can take a touch of frost and survive If you want to save the tubers it is best to harvest them before this happens.  Dig them up carefully as the skin is thin and can be damaged easily.Remove the leafy tops and let them dry slightly, After they have dried a bit place them in a layer of dry peat moss. Place them in a cool dark place for over winter storage.  Check them periodically for any signs of rot or decay and cut it off or throw it out. You can have flowers for many years this way. In a few months you will notice small bud which show which to plant them. Plant them when all chances of frost is over or start them in a sunny location in your house a few weeks before you plan to plant them.

There are many classes of Dahlia flower forms, this is a beautiful Semi-Double form.

There are many classes of Dahlia flower forms, this is a beautiful Semi-Double form.

Dahlias are important to Mexico. The Aztecs grew and harvest the plants for food, medicinal and decorative  purposes. The strong woody flower stems were also used for water tubes and pipes. In 1963 the Dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico.

Deconstructing Dahlias:

Classification of Dahlia flower forms: http://www.dahliaworld.co.uk/dahlia.htm

Dahlias according to WIKI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia

Storing Dahlia tubers: http://www.dahlias.net/dahwebpg/TuberStor/TuberStor1.htm

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When I was small we would go for walks with our mother in the neighborhood and stop and look at the gardens, some were interesting others where more playful and some just a plain messy. You could tell the ones who liked kids by the plants they often chose, fun ones like squashes, scarlet runner beans, and bright flowers like Cosmos, Marigolds and who could not resist Nasturtiums!  Nasturtiums(Tropaeolum majus) are a fond memory of many of us who had them in our garden when we where young.

The bright array of colors found in Tropaeolum majus always appeals to children of any age.

The bright array of colors found in Tropaeolum majus always appeals to children of any age.

Tropaeolum majus orginally is from South America, growing in an area from Bolivia and Columbia and is said to be found in areas such as central Chile as well.  Nasturtiums were first brought to Europe by Spanish around 1500, it is likely seeds where carried back. In South America the plant was used for medicinal purposes such as treating coughs, colds, flu by creating at tea. Topically it was used in poultice for for cuts and burns. Nasturtiums are high in vitamin c and have natural antiboitics in them. It was in Europe that the plant was first used for culinary purposes.

Here the trailing variety of Nasturtium is used as a simple but charming ground cover that is a riot of color during summer and autumn.

Here the trailing variety of Nasturtium is used as a simple but charming ground cover that is a riot of color during summer and autumn.

As a culinary plant Nasturtiums have a lot to offer: the leaves, flowers, stems and buds can all be used and impart a spicy sweet flavor reminiscent of Garden Cress (Lepidium savaticum) or Water Cress(Tropaeolum officinale). The flowers and leaves are used in many ways from salads to sandwiches, in dressings and spreads. The flower buds are pickled and used as a substitute for capers. I like to use the stems as they are especially spicy and add them into salads, my dad who loved extra spicy things was surprised with the intensity of heat in them.

Nasturtium leaves are unusual as the stem is attached to the very middle of the leaf giving it a curious round shape which is part of this plants charm.

Nasturtium leaves are unusual as the stem is attached to the very middle of the leaf giving it a curious round shape which is part of this plants charm.

The unusual shape of the leaves and flowers lead Linnaeus to choose a an interesting botanical Latin name for Tropaeolum majus. ‘Trope’ is from the Greek tropaion or trophy which refers to how the round shields(leaves) and helmets(flowers) where hung on a pillar which was said to be a sign of victory on a battlefield.  The common name Nasturium comes from the latin ‘nastos’ (nose) and ‘turtum’ (torment) and this refers to the spicy taste of the plant. Majus just means big which refers to the size of the leaves.

The stained glass coloring of the Nasturtium flowers and the curious rounded leaves have inspired for many famous artists and writers.

The stained glass coloring of the Nasturtium flowers and the curious rounded leaves have inspired for many famous artists and writers.

Nasturtiums have long been known but during the Victorian era, into the early 20th century seemed most charmed by these plants. From Monet, William Morris, Moorcroft(pottery) to Tiffany’s famous glass, the plants where used everywhere as a charming and attractive subject. Nasturtiums of course are a famous subject for botanical prints. Who does not love a bouquet of the fragrant brightly colored Nasturtiums on a table or windowsill to cheer one up.

This bunny hides in the Nasturtiums in the Childrens Garden at Glendale Gardens.

This bunny hides in the Nasturtiums in the Childrens Garden at Glendale Gardens.

Tropaeolum majus is an easy plant to grow for the new or junior gardener. The seeds are big and easily handled and once planted germinate and grow quickly. They are not fussy and like sandy light, poorer soils, but will do equally well in richer soils although it will produce more leaves and less flowers. Full sun is most important to get the best showing of flowers unless you are in a very hot climate where a little shade in the afternoon will be appreciated. although they are somewhat drought tolerant regular watering will insure your plants continue to bloom for a long time. dead-heading the spent blossoms will help the plant to continue to bloom for months. Nasturtiums are considered to be hardy annuals and can tolerate a light frost, a hard one will kill them outright.

The Nasturtiums here are a cheery welcome to this garden.

The Nasturtiums here are a cheery welcome to this garden.

There are 2 main forms of Nasturtiums, the compact(or dwarf) and the trailing. The dwarf are at the most 45cm(18in) wide and tall with the trailing form being able to cover a 1m(3ft) space per plant. The beguiling flowers come in a vast tapestry of single-colors, bi-colors and blends ranging from the blackish-red ‘Mahogany’ to a pale buttery yellow and all ranges from red through scarlet, orange and yellows. Many named color varieties, singles, doubles and variegated(‘Alaska’)  and dark leaved(‘Empress of India’)  forms can be found in seed strains and are cheap to buy. Seed is easily saved for next year and often will reseed and grow in the same spot for many years.

Nasturtium 'Mahogany' has the darkest flowers that i have seen here in Victoria.

Nasturtium 'Mahogany' has the darkest flowers that i have seen here in Victoria.

Tropaeolum majus can be used in the garden in so many ways: edging, colorful filler for early bulbs and bloomers, childrens’ first garden, ground-cover, edible garden, fragrant garden, self seeding garden, old fashioned gardens, window boxes and containers, formal and informal settings and as artists subjects and fairy gardens.

Trailing and Twinning with Tropaeolums:

What is the reationship with the Cresses:  http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Lepi_sat.html

Nasturtiums as garden vegetables: http://www.veraveg.org/Veg%20History/Veg%20History%20Nasturtium.html

Look at all the art from these plants: http://www.google.ca/images?hl=en&q=Nasturtiums%20in%20art&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1309&bih=741

Will you be following on this path?

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When I was a small child bright and vibrant colors excited and fascinated me.  There was the clear yellows of the Daffodils out at the lake, the brilliant blue of the Siberian Irises at home. Near the end of the school year i would see the crimson-red of some Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale) in a yard as I passed by. The silky smooth red petals with their black basal blotches always made me want to pick them for my mother…but I knew I would get in trouble so I did not.

This amazing Oriental Poppy is most likely called 'Harlem'

This amazing Oriental Poppy is most likely called 'Harlem'

Oriental Poppies are not one species but are bred from several species which are very similar and found in the same general area. The first species was Papaver orientale which we know came to us in the early 18th century, it was sent to  European gardens by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort(1656-1708) who was a French botanist. He is important for first defining the concept of genus and species in plants. The next poppy species was Papaver pseudo-orientale which was introduced in 1788. The final species was Papaver bracteum which was introduced in 1817.

The Poppy of my childhood is most likely called Papaver orientale x 'Allegro' and has the common coloring of the species.

The Poppy of my childhood is most likely called Papaver orientale 'Allegro' and has the common coloring of the species.

All these species are found in the same general area ranging from northern Turkey and the southern Caucasus through into north-west Iran where they grow in isolation from each other. No one knows where they were first crossed or if  it was on purpose. The red-orange Poppies were grown in gardens through the Victorian times but  they were not really favorite types of flowers. Collectively in trade these crossed species are called Oriental Poppies and sold as Papver orientale.

I am always a sucker for white flowers and the same hold true for this pure Papaver orientale x 'Royal Wedding' flower.

I am always a sucker for white flowers and the same hold true for this Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding' flower.

Interest in Oriental Poppies did not pick up until 1906 when Amos Perry(1841-1914) found a salmon colored flower blooming in a crop of the common orange-red type. He carefully saved it and named it Papaver orientale ‘Mrs. Perry’. Soon he had a plant everyone wanted to buy. From finding this one plant his nursery embarked on a careful breeding program to select new flower colors to sell.  The next named color also came by accident in 1913, people complained that their salmon ‘Mrs Perry’ Poppies were blooming white. the Nursery quickly apologized and replaced the plants for the white ones and named the newly found form ‘Perry’s White”.  From this time into the 1930s many new colors from deep maroons to   some forms with unusual leaves and buds were named, many have not survived through until now.

A big, fat bud of Papaver orientale x 'Harlem' is going to bloom in a few days.

A big, fat bud of Papaver orientale 'Harlem' is going to bloom in a few days.

More recent program of breeding Oriental Poppies has been successful in Germany. A nursery of Helene Countess von Stein- Zeppelin has breed  some glorious named forms which include ‘Aglaja’(‘Alglaya’), ‘Karine’, Derwisch’and ‘John III’ to name some of the better known ones.

Papaver orientale x ''Turkish Delight' does not have a dark basal blotch at the base of each petal.

Papaver orientale 'Turkish Delight' does not have a dark basal blotch at the base of each petal.

In the last few years the dark mauve purple Papaver orientale  ‘Patty’s Plum’ has created a sensation in the Poppy world. it was discovered  by   in Somerset, England in the compost dump at Kingsdon Somerton Nursery which is owned by Patricia Marrow. it has been known since the 1990s and sold to the public since 1999.

The color of Papver orientale x 'Patty's Plum' varies somewhat with the weather conditions.

The color of Papaver orientale 'Patty's Plum' varies somewhat with the weather conditions.

We are so fortunate that so many colors of Oriental Poppies are now available and  are easy to grow. Papaver orientale can take the cold and survive nicely at temperatures of -40c(-40f) zones3-9 which why I saw them in my childhood in chilly Prince George. They like poor soil which is well-drained to produce less foliage. For the best flowering full sun is a must. they like a weak feeding of fertilizer or mulching in the spring as well as ample watering when they are in full growth mode. Remove spent flowers and water less later in the season. Their size ranges from .75 to 1.2m (28-48in) and spread is similar as they often are floppy if not staked up.

Papaver orientale 'Picotee' is one of the more interesting flower forms  which is commonly seen.

Papaver orientale 'Picotee' is one of the more interesting flower forms which is commonly seen.

Many color forms are readily available at local nurseries or you can grow them yourself from seed, they are easy to germinate and will bloom in the following year from seed. There are several fine seed forms in reds, salmon, pink and white available. Division of clumps is only done in the fall as they do not like having their roots disturbed.

Peruse Poppy information here:

The back story of Oriental Poppies: http://overplanted.com/profiles/oriental-poppies.php

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Pitton_de_Tournefort

The book I recommend if you are interested in anything related to the Poppy family: http://books.google.ca/books?id=f4Bv56KX_mMC&pg=PA9&dq=papaver+orientale&hl=en&ei=b9H4S-37GpXqNZKksYQI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=papaver%20orientale&f=false

Until we meet again here deep in the plants….

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This week I was planning to do a group of three related species. There was so much information on one species and not enough on another and I have changed my mind, some plants deserve an article all their own. The plant I have chosen is not very common here, but when you see it you will want it. Just yesterday in my research I stumbled across a entry about how this plant has been stolen from a well known public garden here in B.C. and the effect that can have on other people including students. The plant I am referring to is the ‘Crown Imperial‘ (Fritillaria imperialis).

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

The Crown Imperial comes to us by the route so many plants have followed, through Constantinople, in 1576  a plant was collected in Persia. From there a sample was taken by Clusius to the Imperial Collection in Vienna. In Vienna it is said to be given it’s common name by Alphonsus Pancus because it was grown in the Imperial Gardens there. Another version says it was named because it has ‘the true shape of the Imperial Crown’.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

Fritillaria imperialis are mainly native to south east Turkey but is found through western Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally resting in Kashmir. It is now found at 1000-3000 m(3300-9000ft) growing on rocky slopes and in the scrub.  In earlier times the orange-red blossoms where used as a source of dye coloring for the rugs which were made in the area.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Many historians feel that the Fritillaria imperialis was the plant refered to in the Greek myth of Hyacinthus.  Hyacinthus  was a beautiful young man, (possibly a Spartan Prince) who the god Apollo admired.  It was said that Apollo accidentally killed Hyacinthus when they were taking turns throwing a discus. Hyacinthus wanted to impress Apollo by running and catching the discus and instead was struck by it and died. Another form of the myth says that Zephyr, god of the west wind was feuding with Apollo over Hyacinthus,  when Apollo threw the discus Zephyr blew it off course which caused the accident.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

As Crown Imperials have been in cultivation such a long time, several varieties have been found and are now available to grow. Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ is yellow and is the oldest and dates back to 1665. Other forms are ‘Aurora’ which is orange-red, Rubra is the red form, ‘Premier’ is noted to be pale tangerine with purple tinged veins, ‘Argenteo Variegata’ has leaves which are edged in white and somber orange flowers and  ‘Orange Brilliant’ is said to be a rusty orange. All Fritillaria  have an unpleasant scent which people have said ranges from raw meat to wet fur to musty smelling, this helps to repel rodents who commonly decimate bulbs by eating them.  I have read several sources who say the scent really does work as rodents do not touch these bulbs.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

Fritillaria imperialis have bulbs which are noticeably bowl-shaped and because of this should be planted on their side so water will not sit in and rot them.  the bulbs should be planted  at least 10cm(4 in) deep and the spacing should be 22cm to 30cm(9 to 12 in). These bulbs do not like being moved except when the clumps become big enough to split up. If you live in a cold climate it might be a good idea to plant them in a container and then lift it for storage over the cold months.

Many Fritillaria have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

Many Fritillaria flowers have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

To get the best bloom give Fritillaria imperialis full sun during their growing season. Like many other bulbs they need lots of water when they are growing and very little when they are dormant. They like well-drained, rich soil with plenty of grit to assist drainage during wetter seasons. These impressive plants are quite hardy and rate between zones 5 through 9, -23 c(-10 f).

More about Crown Imperials:

The Wiki page is a good place to start:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritillaria_imperialis

Naming and history of plant: http://books.google.com/books?id=2AknHP_NRBgC&pg=PA74&sig=sdRm87XtnjBYNRRPGrhIvpGgzlI&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

The story of the stolen bulb and how it can effect us: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/03/fritillaria_imperialis_rubra_1.php

See you soon in a garden….

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When I was doing my Horticulture practicum in North Vancouver I saw many plants which were new to me. Some other plants were different, they grew more vigorously in the mild climate. I was introduced to some commonly grown plants which I was first seeing in a more wild form. One day when we taking a turn about the garden I spied a strange form of Tulip and asked what it was; I was told it was a species Tulip…much more delicate then the robust forms that are common at this time. I have been enamored of the dainty species Tulips ever since.

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Johann Strauss'

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Johann Strauss'

Many bulbs we are familiar with originate in the mountains of Central Asia and travel through Iran and Turkey and end up in eastern and southern Europe. Tulips fall exactly into this pattern. The species Tulips I am showing you today come mainly come from an area of Central Asia which is called the Tian Shan (Sky Mountains). It is part of the Himalayan orogenic belt which was formed when the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates collided and creates the highest mountain ranges in the world. It is also through this area that the Silk Roads of ancient commerce travelled.

 This group of Tulipa praetans are found high up in the Terrace Gardens at Government House.

This group of Tulipa praetans are found high up in the Terrace Gardens at Government House.

Tulips have come to us from those same commerce exchanges, this time from the Turkish court of Suleiman the Magnificent to the court of the Holy Roman Empire. They were brought by Ambassador Ogier Ghiselin de Bubecq. He had seen the flowers in his travels to Constantinople in 1554. We know the flowers grew in Augsburg in 1559 as they were described by Conrad Gessner. After that there was no turning back with the popularity of the flowers and they were soon in cultivation in the Nederlands. They became a symbol of luxury and were much  coveted by the wealthy.

Tulipa turkestanica has small starry flowers and a lax habit.

Tulipa turkestanica has small starry flowers and a lax habit.

Many Tulip species have been crossed with others, in some cases this happens in the wild where species ranges of growth overlap. In most cases crosses are done to produce larger flowers with strong stems and create new color ranges. Tulips cover a rainbow of colors from nearly blue through reds, oranges and yellows to creamy white and back into plums and violets. Every shade and variation within these colors is seen.

Tulipa clusiana var. 'Chrysantha', a form of the delicate Lady Tulip.

Tulipa clusiana var. 'Chrysantha', a form of the delicate Lady Tulip.

The orginal name for Tulip is leleh which is Persian. The French Tulipe is from the Turkish ‘tulbend’ which means turban.Turkish tulbend is corrupted form of Persian dulband also meaning turban. Tulipa is the Latinate form of this Turkish word. In English the word first appeared as Tuliphant and later changed to Tulip. Are you confused now?

Tulipa greigii 'Chopin', all greigii's have beautifully marked leaves.

Tulipa greigii 'Chopin', all greigii's have beautifully marked leaves.

These speices Tulips come from mountainous areas or the vast Steppes of Central Asia. many grow on rocky slopes or in scrub, others by streams which run early in the year and later dry up. Other species come from woodlands and are slightly more lush in their growth. they dot the slopes and grssy lands like jewels blooming briefly in the cool spring sunshine.

Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is also known as saxitilis and comes from the island of Crete. This is a light color form.

Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is also known as saxitilis and comes from the island of Crete. This is a light color form.

We are very fortunate that  many species Tulips are easy to find and as equally adaptable to grow in our gardens. Always buy your bulbs from a reputable dealer who does not get them from wild collected supplies. It is very important we protect all species of plants growing in the wild.

Tulipa kolpakowskiana  has a beautifully colored bud.

Tulipa kolpakowskiana has a beautifully colored bud.

It is best to grow all Tulips in rich, sandy well draining soil. The best flowers and foliage are produced by having a site which is in full sun. They need most watering during the spring when they are vigorously growing. Tulips do not like excess wetness when they are dormant over the summer into the winter. after flowering they should be left while their leaves die down and wither, after this the bulbs can be lifted and stored for later replanting. In warmer climates bulbs can be planted in the fall. Tulips generally are rated at zone 4-5  -25c(-20f).

Tulipa bakeri, a darker form.

Tulipa bakeri, a darker form.

Tulips make excellent container plants. For most impact plant bulbs in close groups. Species Tulips are generally small in overall height and should be placed near the front of a border. the are perfect in an alpine or rock garden.

Interesting Links For You:

Pacific Bulb Society has an excellent site for searching out new bulbs:http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Tulipa

Tulip history and the madness which happened:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

Central Asia, where so many of our treasured species come from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

Until we meet again along the flowering path…

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Growing up in the North, my experience with bulbs was limited. We could not grow many of the showy plants that came from bulbs or if we did we would have to dig them up and store them over the winter in the garage if we had one which did not freeze. This stopped many people from growing things like Gladiolas and other more showy and multicolored flowers. it is a pity. When I moved south to go to school I saw this incredible red orange type of tall sword leaved plant which looked like the for-mentioned Gladiolas. It was not that, but a fiery Crocosmia blooming during the hottest days of summer. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the most robust and showy of the bunch.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia(often called Montbretia) are a species of bulbs which are found in South Africa which has an extraordinary array of species, said to be the most in any area in the world. This genus is very small with only 12 species being named. it was named in 1851 by Jules Émile Planchon, who was a well known botanist who spent most of his career at the University of Montpelier as well as as the Royal Botanical Gardens in London.  Crocosmia are from the Iris(Iridaceae) family and this is particularly reflected in the upright spiky foliage. Crocosmia are grown from corms just like their close cousins Crocus and Gladiolas.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

There have now been an amazing 400 cultivars created with the best of them now fairly common throughout the world. They are easily reproduced from the corms which form chains of smaller ones which can be separated and grown into new chains or clumps. Crocosmias also set large amounts of fertile seed which is easy to germinate and grow into attractive new plants which will have bright red oranges to chrome yellows and every shade in between. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a selection which comes from Alan Bloom (1906-2005) who has named several other well known forms. Alan Bloom is a very important plantsman and over his career he introduced more than 200 new perennial cultivars into the gardens of the world from his nursery at Bressingham Hall  which later became the world famous Bressingham Gardens.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

‘Lucifer’ is said to be hybrid of Crocosmia and Curtonus which are often lumped together. It is unclear if it is a true hybrid between two closely allied plant genera or just a cross between 2 or more species in the Crocosmia genus only.  One thing is clear though, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is well named with it being the most brilliant of all colors. It also seems to be most vigorous  of the named Crocosmias I have seen; with the plants I photographed this week being as tall as me!

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is an easy chioce to add to your garden.  Crocosmia require average soil with medium moisture retention especially during their growing and blooming season which extends into later summer. To get an impressive show plant your corms in groups of 3 or more, about 3in( 7cm) deep, right side up.  They enjoy full sun to make their stems rigorous and strong. If they are happy new corms with form and clumps will expand and can easily be divided. When moving the plants it is important to make sure you get all the tiny corms which will reappear if not removed completely.  To keep them tidy, remove the spent flowers and cut off any browning foliage if it bothers you. Spider Mites are one pest which can be a problem here and can damage the foliage and flowers. They are hardy to -10c( 20f) and sailed through the winter here and look more spectacular than usual.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmias are stiff upright plants which work well in the back of boarders as well as used in mass plantings as you have seen. They often are used as specimens because they are so showy and standout from other plants at this time of the year. They look great with many other foliage plants and you can play with the flower colors. I like seeing white Shasta Daisies with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ because the whites are whiter and the red looks even more potent.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

More on Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and others.

Species Crocosmia and what thier is to know about them.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocosmia

Growing Crocosmias.  http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=H680

Bressingham gardens and the Blooms family http://www.bressinghamgardens.com/familyhistory.php

Alan Bloom who all plant lovers should know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bloom_(plantsman)

Until We Meet Again Later in the Week…..

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When I moved to Vancouver Island I noticed right away the change in the native plants. On the southern tip of the island it is drier than the mainland and you find species not found elsewhere. The tree lupines are one of the plants which grow here, so is Oceanspray(Holodisus discolor) which is like a tree-form Astilbe. I also noticed some plants in gardens which I had not seen anywhere else. These where not uncommon plants, just forms which seemed almost endemic here. These where likely brought long ago by people who moved to the area and then passed about as plants were. My mother was given pieces of Daylily and Iris from her mother and then the clumps are split when someone enthuses about how beautiful they are…. and the cycle repeats. This must  be what happened here to see so many places with Hemerocallis fulva ‘Kwanso’.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Here near Sidney I found little seaside cottages with gardens brimming with great big clumps of this unusual form of  the Tawny ‘Kwanso’ Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

It’s parent Hemeocallis fulva is not know in the wild, although it first appeared in China and Japan. It is a triploid and is self-sterile and has be reproduced by division of it’s rhizomes. It was brought here from Europe in the 17th century and it was so successful at this that it has become naturalized in parts of North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Another form of the Tawny Daylily is seen commonly as well. It is Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea which is native to Japan where is grows in the grass near the oceans on Western Honshu and Kyushu islands. It blooms in late October there.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea is said to be smaller in stature and the leaves appear to be a darker green. Here it is best seen in a planting in Brentwood Bay where it is used as a mass planting in the middle of the roundabout and is repeated at intervals in a perennial planting which runs along West Saanich Rd through the community. It has been interesting to see how this planting design has fared since it’s installation several years ago.

The 'roundabout' in Brentwood Bay palnted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

The 'Roundabout' in Brentwood Bay mass planted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

Anyone who loves Daylilies can understand the importance of this species in breeding of new varieties which there are now hundreds. All other known Hemerocallis are yellow toned to yellowy orange and pinkish. Breeding new colors only really began in the 1920’s with Dr. A.B. Stout who started a program to expand the color range. Since that time over 45,000 new hybrids have been introduced which range from nearly white through blood red to blackish purple.  The flowers themselves have changed to having broader petals to show off their extravagant colors. Many new plants have been breed to be shorter in  overall stature  and to have longer bloom periods.  More recently a new addition to the Hemerocallis fulva family has been seen; a variegated form of ‘Kwanso’ (H.f. var. Variegata) with white stripes running through it’s leaves.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

Growing Daylilies is easy which is why they are such successful plants.  Tawny Daylilies need a bright sunny site with well drained, rich soil. They need a fairly large area as they can grow  into a 1m(3ft) by 1m(3ft) clump quickly. Daylilies make excellent subjects for mass planting and can make an attractive informal edging as the foliage is attractive, durable and does not get ratty looking during the late summer. Keep Daylilies tidy by removing the spent flowers stems when they are finished. Most forms are quite hardy and will easily withstand zone4 (-20c or -15f). Propagation of Hemerocallis fulva forms as well as all Daylilies is by division which is very easily done in the spring.

The broad foliage is an attravtive foil to the facinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossom.

The broad foliage is an attractive foil to the fascinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossoms.

Further information on Tawny Daylillies:

Paghat’s experience with the Tawny Daylily: http://www.paghat.com/daylily.html

Growing Daylilies; how to do it best: http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/daylily2.html

A more technical description of Hemerocallis fulva: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200027676

Visit Brentwood Bay: http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=30

Until We Meet Again Later This Week…..

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