Monday 5 September 2011

Some early colchicums

Colchicum agrippinum has been in flower since mid-August. It is a ancient sterile hybrid between Colchicum autumnale and C. variegatum and is immediately recognizable among hardy colchicums through its strong tessellation, narrow segments and purple styles.  A superb garden plant.

Colchicum variegatum at Wisley: the most beautifully tessellated of all, but it requires alpine house or bulb frame cultivation in this country.

Colchicum autumnale is a native of much of Europe and in most forms not a particularly special plant for the garden. This is a very pallid clone known as 'Oxford Pale' among enthusiasts, having come from the Oxford Botanic Garden many years ago. C. autumnale is distinguished by having white styles.

Colchicum autumnale 'Nancy Lindsay' has the pale styles of the species it's attributed to, but the rich pink flowers and coloured floral tube make it very dissimilar to most forms.

'Nancy Lindsay' is an excellent plant for planting in grass as here at Colesbourne Park: vigorous and showy but not too large.
Colchicum guadarremense is one of the darker -flowered Spanish members of the C. autumnale alliance, a small and pretty plant.

Colchicum tenorei is reputedly an Italian plant, clearly allied to C. autumnale, but with slight tessellation and purple-tipped styles. This stock has persisted at Colesbourne Park since the time of H.J. Elwes, who supplied the material for its description in J.G. Baker's Synopsis of Colchicaceae (1879).

Colchicum byzantinum is another ancient hybrid, probably between C. autumnale and C. cilicicum: it was sent from Constantinople to Vienna in 1588 and has been a feature of gardens ever since, producing masses of soft pink flowers with broad segments. It has a crooked, purple stigma and the faintest hint of tessellation.

A white-flowered mutation of C. byzantinum, 'Innocence' (sen here at Wisley) was first offered for sale in the early 1980s. It is a splendid plant, being the most floriferous of all white colchicums. It retains the purple-tipped stigma.

1 comment:

  1. Your 'Nancy Lindsay' looks quite a bit more vigorous than mine. It makes me wonder if my plant is properly named, or if the vastly different climate I have causes it to be less vigorous.


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