Earliest Colchicums

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Colchicum season has started! In general, colchicums seem to be emerging earlier than usual–but why? Because it was cooler than usual? Because it was rainier than usual? Or both combined? I don’t know.

Pushing the zone

But I do know that I have deliberately sought out some colchicums that bloom earlier so that the season of bloom in my garden is extended. And to do that, I had to go a little bit out of my comfort zone–I mean, my hardiness zone. Yes, I have dared to plant some corms only rated as hardy to USDA Zone 6, and I am a cold Zone 5.

I planted them in the Herb Garden, which has the best drainage of any garden bed, and also is a warm microclimate. Shall we begin?

Colchicum graecum

Colchicum graecum AH.9141 first emerged on August 18th this year. This photo was taken August 24th, close to peak bloom. This one is supposedly only hardy to USDA Zone 6.

Colchicum autumnale Karin Persson

Colchicum autumnale ‘Karin Persson’ was the next one to bloom, on August 23rd.

Karin Persson is a retired botanist who specialized in colchicums. This colchicum was named after her when she identified it as a form of C. autumnale. It blooms earlier than any of the other variants of that species.

Colchicum TBD close up

By September 2nd, this colchicum, which was sold to me as TBD (identity To Be Determined) was blooming.

According to members of the Crocus and Colchicum Facebook group, this is a form of Colchicum speciosum. The earliest it’s ever bloomed for me before was September 8th, but often it’s later than that. Indeed, several corms of this same plant, just to the left of these flowers, are just starting to emerge.

Colchicum TBD

It looks lovely with an underplanting of purple-leaved heucheras.

Colchicum Disraeli Beaconsfield

I have this under two names, ‘Disraeli’ and ‘Beaconsfield’. September 6th.

Colchicum Disraeli Beaconsfield close up

I really like the intensity of the color and the checkered pattern (tessellation) on them.

Beaconsfield or Disraeli

One of these is ‘Disraeli’ and one is ‘Beaconsfield’. It turns out Benjamin Disraeli was the first Earl of Beaconsfield, so I think these are the same plant.

Or perhaps one is mis-named. Colchicums often seem to be mis-identified. It’s frustrating.

Colchicum Jochem Hof

‘Jochem Hof’ made an appearance on September 6th. Jochem Hof is the name of a botanical garden in the Netherlands.

This is another favorite of mine. The color is not quite as intense as Disraeli/Beaconsfield, but it attains its full color quickly and is strong and vigorous.

Colchicum Jochem Hof close up

Just pure saturated color, easily visible from a distance, and a lovely almond shape.

Come see my colchicums!

So that’s what’s been blooming for the first couple of weeks of Colchicum Season. If you’d like to see dozens of colchicum varieties blooming in one place, I’m opening my garden to the public on September 30th. Details here. ‘Karin Persson’ and Colchicum graecum are done blooming, but many more kinds will emerge by the end of September, and some of the others pictured here may still be blooming. After all, I had 19 different kinds of colchicums blooming on October 7th last year. A week earlier, even more were blooming.



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