Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Colchicum 'Glory of Heemstede'

Colchicum 'Glory of Heemstede'

Colchicums can be frustratingly difficult to identify, and that's as true of the wild forms as it is of the garden forms. Among the garden forms, some stand out for certain characteristics or combinations of characteristics. Things to look for are the width of the tepals, the presence or absence of tessellation, the size of the flower, the shape of the flower, the blooming season, the presence or absence of a white throat, the presence or absence of color on the outside of the tube (the structure which looks like the stem of the flower but is not). Some are fragrant (in the good sense), some have an odor (i.e. something not particularly pleasant).

And they vary in the intensity of their color. The one shown here, now over a century old, is 'Glory of Heemstede', and it has the most intense color of any of the colchicums I know. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Colchicums, an Esther Bartning homage

Esther Bartning's plate from Gartensch√∂nheit, October 1938

The ones in the top row, left to right, are identified as 'The Giant', 'Lilac Wonder', speciosum 'Album' and cilicicum
The ones in the second row are identified as 'Violet Queen', 'Waterlily' and 'General Grant'.
The ones in the third row are identified as 'Agrippinum', autumnale 'Alboplenum' and speciosum.
The ones in the fourth row are identified as Crocus speciosus albus (but see comments below) and 'Danton'.

An approximation done with flowers from today's garden

The ones in the first row are 'The Giant', 'Lilac Wonder', a substitute for speciosum 'Album', and cilicicum.
The ones in the second row (my row slants more than Bartning's) are 'Violet Queen', 'Waterlily' and a substitute for 'General Grant', Leonid Bondarenko's 'World Champion Cup'.
The ones in the third row are 'Agrippinum', autumnale 'Alboplenum' and speciosum.
The ones in the fourth row are autumale 'Album' and a substitute for 'Danton', the otherwise  handsome 'Disraeli' looking a bit tired after a week or so in the refrigerator.

Colchicum speciosum 'Album' has not bloomed here yet - the buds are visible, but they are not moving. If I can keep the rest of the blooms in good condition until it blooms, I might re-do the image later.

If 'Danton' still exists, I'm not aware of a source. In the text which accompanied the Gartensch√∂nheit  plate, Karl Foerster  describes 'Danton' as "the most magnificent of the deep violet colored giants".

'General Grant' is another hybrid I have never grown or seen offered.

In Bartning's plate the small white flowers in the lower left hand corner are identified as Crocus speciosus albus  - the name is now formatted as  Crocus speciosus  'Albus'. At first glance, they do look like that plant. But count the stamens: crocuses have only three, the plants depicted show more than that. I've substituted Colchicum autumnale 'Album'; perhaps that was the original intention.

For more about Esther Bartning, see here:


Try a right click to get the prompt to translate.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ipomoea lindheimeri

Ipomoea lindheimeri

Here's a morning glory from Texas which is probably hardy enough to survive local winter conditions with a bit of help; I'll try it first in a cold frame. It's sometimes grown more for its thickened roots (it's caudiciform) than for its flowers. But the flowers are nothing to dismiss without due consideration. For one thing, they are relatively big: three inches across. Young plants which have only produced two feet of vine will produce full-sized, proportionally large flowers. And the flowers are fragrant.
Several other North American species of Ipomoea are worth growing for this combination of caudex and large flowers: I. macrorhiza, I. pandurata and I. leptophylla, for instance.
While in the Army I spent a full year in central Texas; during that time most of my free time was spent in the field studying the local flora and fauna. It was during this time that I became very familiar indeed with the name Lindheimer. The Wikipedia entry for Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer states that one genus and over twenty species are named for him; the Lady Bird Johnson Center claims that 48 species and subspecies are named for him.