colchicum time

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest news from our garden, and some other stuff, too. You may remember me from such posts as “The Cow-Pen Daisies”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.It’s been extremely hot. The sun has been out, which is weird, with the humidity lower than fifteen percent for days now. The guy I live with left me alone (not for very long) every day for a week, I think, though he’s stayed home the last couple of days. He said he was waiting for something to come in the mail.

When he’s been at home he was one the phone so much that he had to change the plan on his cell phone to add more minutes. I wondered why he didn’t talk on the land line instead, but he didn’t.

All of this has to do with him losing his mom, of course.

One thing that he said which I guess I understand, since I haven’t seen my mom in a very long time, was how a lot of links to the past have been broken now; his life in Los Angeles in the 1950s seems like an illusion. There is no one to talk to about that period in his life. I guess this is the way things go.

Here he is, with his mom behind him, maybe about 1954, in Los Angeles. Sort of gardening.He said this picture of the tree made it look less full than he imagined it. This is the front of his grandparents’ house in Los Angeles. The house is gone now, but a lot of the houses in the neighborhood are still there. His grandfather was in the Army and liked to fly this huge flag. The back yard.What really surprised him was how little he wanted from his mom’s house. He did take two watercolors his grandfather did; they’re copies of paintings by other artists which he did in 1933. The guy I live with said he has remembered these two watercolors ever since he was conscious. You can see one of the Fu dogs there, too. He’s had those for a while now.Since I’m talking about the past, I might as well mention the lamp you can see. That was at his paternal grandmother’s house in east Denver, and when there was an infestation of miller moths a lot of them would get caught in that bowl thing and cook. The guy I live with said the smell was something else. We don’t have that many miller moths here. (It’s funny because his grandmother’s maiden name was Miller and as a kid he thought the moths were named after her, and though he later knew that wasn’t true, it was only in the last few years that he realized they were called “millers” because they look like they’re covered with flour, like a miller would be.)

Now back to gardening. You can see here that we had sun yesterday. This was on my walk.Today they said “sun”, but this was what we got instead. It rained. The guy I live with said not to laugh. We had some actual rain about a week ago, maybe half an inch over two days, and now the sternbergias are flowering. The last time they flowered was October of 2000. There must be some relationship between getting rain at just the right time and the flowering.  You can also see bindweed; no one has been weeding here lately. The bigger leaves are from Lonicera olgae, from Central Asia. A miniature honeysuckle.There are cyclamen flowering. This is Cyclamen purpurascens ‘Extra Fancy’, which is almost finished flowering.Cyclamen ciliciumA nice form of Cyclamen hederifolium in the middle of the picture. The point-and-shoot adds too much blue to pinks, and the guy I live with doesn’t know how to fix that. (Except by using the “big camera”.) And there are colchicums. The guy I live with said he didn’t know which one this was because a Certain Partly, “who shall be nameless”, stole all the labels when he was a puppy. I don’t remember doing anything like that, but he did look right at me when he said that.

This one is Colchicum cilicicum. He gets “cilicium” and “cilicicum” confused sometimes. Both names refer to ancient Cilicia, an area in southern Turkey. He got some new colchicums, from Daffodils and More, last weekend. They were starting to flower, which is okay. When he planted them he didn’t cover over the flowering stalks, like they were in a sort of depression, so that when the stalks wither he can cover them and the corms will be a bit deeper that way. He said you do the same thing with crocosmias, which we don’t grow here, but his friend does, in her garden.

That cage you see is for a little oak, to keep bunnies from nibbling on it.

There are some cow-pen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) in the “way back” too. They needed to be watered a little.More in the lawn, with Aster oblongifolius. None of these were planted here; they all seeded themselves.I guess that’s it for today.

Until next time, then.


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22 Responses to colchicum time

  1. Barb K says:

    I have some Cyclamen purpurascens Christmas Tree type and they are very pretty. One time they stopped a sophisticated gardener in his tracks. But I don’t know, yours may be prettier. I always want to smell them, but they are very far away from my nose and I am reluctant to lay down to sniff them. Not a problem of yours, right Mani? Funny (well not really) just today I was cleaning the back room that is full of old stuff including one 18-year old cat and saw photos and old things of my mother’s and realized no one cares about that stuff but me, and I really don’t like to look at it. Sadness. I grew up in Los Angeles too, off of Olympic Blvd. and your pictures reminded me of my pictures. Well, and in case you think it’s mean to keep the cat back there, she gets to come out at 8:00 when the dogs go to bed and she has the run of the house. Asters and Cyclamen. I like this time of year.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with likes this time of year, too, but September is full of memories. Some not good. The guy I live with’s wedding anniversary is a good memory; that’s on the twenty-fifth. He also said it would be nice if the air around here moved once in a while. It’s been very, very still here, except for the storms, which hopefully are over. There was a purpurascens Christmas Tree here, from Edelweiss, but a squirrel dug it up and carried it off. The guy I live with said that “Olympic Blvd” means a lot to him. You may remember my post called “You Never Know” and the story of the three brothers. Those were his mom’s first cousins. But she also had other first cousins, from an older aunt and uncle. One of the cousins, whom the guy I live with remembers quite well, was twenty years older than his mom, was the first female vice president of the L.A. school system, and lived in an apartment on Olympic Blvd. (She also rented a cottage at Balboa Beach which the guy I live with went to several times when he was little, to go swimming in the ocean. Or at least wade in it.) It was a ground-floor apartment and very nice.

      • Barb K says:

        Oh, I used to visit my great aunt’s apartment just off Sunset Blvd. It was very classy and so was she. The building was tall and pink and had little turrets at the corners. She kind of scared me, actually.

      • paridevita says:

        Sunset Boulevard. The guy I live with said something about “77 Sunset Strip” and the famous awning or whatever. That’s something that the guy I live with realized was gone when his mom died. He would call her up (being a dutiful son) and read things to her, like this passage from The High Window, by Raymond Chandler: “I was earlier than four-thirty getting over there, but not much. I parked at the end of the street, where the funicular railway comes struggling up the yellow clay bank from Hill Street, and walked along Court Street to the Florence Apartments…” and his mom would say “Angel’s Flight!”, and the guy I lived with would say “Uh huh”, and then she would start talking about his his grandmother (in the picture of the couch) who grew up in Los Angeles, always wanted to take him up Angel’s Flight, but never did.

  2. Bruno Baudino says:

    Many greetings from the Maritime Alps (Italy) to you Mani and to the man you live with!

  3. Cyclamen purpurascens is supposed to be the cold-hardiest cyclamen. I had a very nice clump that I had gotten from Seneca Hill perennials but it was too close to the hydrangea that needed to be dug up. I replanted it but it apparently expired. I got some new C. purpurascens from Odyssey Perennials but they don’t seem to be doing too well, either. I’m somewhat saddened as the original corm had gotten quite big. Do you remember where you got the ‘Extra Fancy’ from?

    • paridevita says:

      The ‘Extra Fancy’ came from Seneca Hill, too. Cyclamen purpurascens needs more summer water than the others, which may be why most of them don’t do so well here. Aside from being dug up by squirrels.

  4. Nell says:

    I love those watercolors. And all those flashy fall-blooming corms! Sternbergia flowering here, too, but they do every year. You’ve sent me out to appreciate them.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with sent a message to the Pacific Bulb Society mailing list talking about the sternbergias and why they have been here for a quarter of a century and rarely flower. He got some advice. Like digging up bulbs and replanting them, which he did with one bulb. And then, of course, the ones he left alone started to flower. It must be because of the rain here week before last.

      • Nell says:

        Just struck me that the Sternbergias here (western foothills of the Virginia Blue Ridge) have been in place for almost 20 years. Where do the years go?

        The corms were a gift from a busmate at a historic iris convention in upstate New York, who advised planting them in a spot that would stay somewhat dry. Given our clay soil and any-season rainfall, the only such place available was under the south-facing eaves of an old shed, which seems to suit them perfectly. As a bonus, they’re visible as you go out the back door; nothing else in the vicinity is in bloom then, so they’re always a surprise and a lift.

        Eaves notwithstanding, they got a pretty good soaking from the retreating Florence. Looking forward very much to tomorrow, when they’ll enjoy the first sun in a week and the first dry air in a month… It hasn’t looked or felt like September yet, and it seems to start later every year. But the Sternbergias seem to be on a day-length clock, because they flower with the calendar.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with said it doesn’t feel like September here at all. And it certainly doesn’t seem “sunny” like the forecast said. Ninety degrees, completely overcast with thick clouds, totally dry, not a breath of air moving, day after day. You should hear the complaining. At least the humidity has been low. Normally September is cooler than the other summer months, with sun. Or sometimes even rain. The guy I live with said that time passes both quickly and slowly, depending on perspective. It often passes very slowly here, until the guy I live with realizes he’s supposed to be somewhere.

  5. tonytomeo says:

    If the guy you live with happens to ask, you can tell him that I did not laugh at the picture of the rain. It is a whole lot more than what we got so far. If he happens to ask about my reaction to the pathetic honeysuckle, you can tell him I said nothing.

  6. in re:“cilicium” and “cilicicum”: I am alphabetizing a wildly out-of-order plant index – fun! – and finding similar spellings one by the other, which I highlight. My thinking is plant spelling became more consistent between 1909 and 1939. Cyclamen, colchicum, all so pretty, and the aster too. I a moment ago came across an old herbal with a receipt for Cowslip Water. Hard sugar is heavily involved and two handfuls of cowslip. No clue given as to what the water cures. I loved the sunshine lighting your walkway, but the path looks better with you in it.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I try to be an ornament wherever I am. The guy I live with said there were cowslips here, long ago. He was never sure if they were cow slips or cows lips, but he dealt with it anyway. And, oh, guess what? There’s a species of cyclamen called Cyclamen colchicum. Really. So named because it comes from Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece and stuff.

  7. MrNele99 says:

    Ah Mani, this makes me miss the crocosmias my garden in Virginia had. Though they would always flop and look horrible by the end of the hot, muggy summers…I loved their spray-y habit and brilliant red color. Hmm….if the guy you live with’s friend grows them here in CO, perhaps I should try planting a few. Just for memory’s sake 🙂 Like we need more memory goosings in the Fall…

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says that ‘Lucifer’ and ‘George Davidson’ seem to be perfectly hardy here, with lots of summer water, though they’re usually sold in pots which means the corms aren’t planted deeply enough. So you dig a hole deeper than the pot, plant everything, then backfill after the foliage withers, so the corms will be at a reasonable depth (say six inches deep) in winter.

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