Saturday, September 23, 2017

Colchicum tessellation

Tessellation in Colchicum 'Beaconsfield'

Colchicum 'Rosy Dawn' a massive but untessellated cultivar.
The two images here show the difference between tessellated and untessellated flowers in colchicums. In the image of 'Beaconsfield' you can easily see the checkerboard pattern of the color. The intensity and clarity of this pattern varies with the age of the blossom and the light conditions. In addition to 'Beaconsfield', other cultivars which show this pattern well are 'Disraeli' 'The Giant' and 'Glory of Heemstede'. In 'Glory of Heemstede' the pattern is somewhat smudged but the overall color is very good. In 'The Giant',  overall the color is pale and so the tessellation is not distinct unless the blossom is examined closely.

For contrast, the lower image shows 'Rosy Dawn', an untessellated variety. Note the lack of the checkerboard color pattern. Grow this cultivar for its massive blooms: the outer tepals are more than an inch wide in well grown examples. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Colchicum : Six large-flowered hybrids

Six large-flowered hybrid colchicums
I suspect that only those with a high tolerance for nomenclatural instability will persist long in an enthusiasm for the wild forms of the genus Colchicum. This uncertainty extends to the garden hybrids, too. Above you see six of these hybrids, six very well worth having. Some of the names date back to the pre-WWI hybridizing work of the Zocher firm. Whatever they are, they are wonderful. The enthusiasm for these plants when they were introduced  and the  sometimes hyperbolic naming  might seem excessive to us, but keep in mind that a century ago, the only colchicums likely to be seen in European gardens were forms of the diminutive European wildflower Colchicum autumnale and the ancient Colchicum byzantinum, aka Colchicum autumnale major . In comparison to those pale little ones, these big, richly colored and sometimes tessellated  hybrids are glorious, wondrous giants indeed.
In the image above you see, left to right, 'Rosy Dawn', 'Glory of Heemstede;  'Beaconsfield', 'Jochem Hof', 'The Giant' and 'Disraeli'. 'Glory of Heemstede', 'Beaconsfield', 'The Giant' and 'Disraeli' are all characterized by conspicuous tessellation.  'Jochem Hof' is notable for its intense, dark coloration. 'Rosy Dawn' is remarkable for the width of the tepals: some are over an inch wide!  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The interconnectedness of things: a bite of pizza takes me back to WWII intrigues

 PizzaCS's Margherita pizza

Jim's favorite part 

Last night Wayne and I went for pizza. There are several top-notch pizza places within a five or ten minute drive from here, and last night we tried PizzaCS  again. CS in this case stands for the Italian come sempre meaning “as always”, an allusion to their membership in the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani.  If there are such  people as pizza geeks, this is probably where they dine. There’s nothing fancy about this place, but you can get a pizza made with mozzarella di bufala and the crusts are wonderful. 

My choice was pizza Margherita, and as I munched it I absentmindedly made one of those connections that I should have made long ago. Have you ever wondered who the eponymous Margherita was? She was none other than Margherita Di Savoia, Queen of Italy at the end of the nineteenth century.

About forty years ago, with little more with me than a Eurail Pass, a camera, some cash and seemingly unlimited optimism and enthusiasm,  I spent six weeks  in England and western Europe.  While in England, the “vegetarian hostel” in which I stayed (it had an opium poppy growing in the cracks of the front steps – I’ve got a photo to keep the memory keen) had a beat-up old upright piano in the basement. Out of curiosity,  I opened the piano bench and there I struck gold: volume I of Parisotti’s 1885 Arie Antiche. My offer to purchase it was declined: "You can have it" was the proprietor/manager's response. Two pages from this are shown here, including the page dedicating the work to Margherita Di Savoia, Regina D’Italia. 

Dedication page

Title page of Parisotti's  1885 Arie Antiche

For more about Parisotti, check out this link:

For more about Queen Margherita,  check out this link:

This book might carry even more history:  written inside the cover is this: “June Forbes-Sempill, M√ľnchen 1939”. Is this the Hon.  June Mary Forbes-Sempill, daughter of William Francis Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill? Was she one of the many  aristocratic young English women sent by pro-German families to Germany in the 1930s for finishing? If so, her death in 1941 at age 18, "killed by enemy action", was ironic (from Her father, Lord Sempill, was a notorious British spy employed by the Japanese. He was so well connected that he never faced charges for his traitorous activities. 

Hemerocallis in mid-September

Mid-September daylilies with companion plants
Here are some late blooming Hemerocallis combined with others plants also blooming now. The smaller yellow daylilies are 'Autumn Prince', the larger orange ones are 'Autumn King'. Mixed with them are some hardy ageratum, Tatarian aster, a lone bellflower, common bindweed, Salvia guaranitica and several sedums. 

Colchicums 2017

Colchicums with companion plants. 
Colchicums have been blooming for about two weeks now: some of the earliest ones are already over for this year. I gathered these early this morning and quickly put together this grouping. Now I'll be able to enjoy them throughout the year.