Tag Archives: Colchicum

Early October Notes

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

On this sunny Sunday afternoon I am safe and dry while many parts of North Carolina and other southern states are reeling from wind and rain brought by Hurricane Matthew. There is vast flooding that is expected to increase as rivers swell. While many are saying this storm could have been a lot worse, it is heartbreaking to see images of streets and homes underwater, including in my hometown of St. Pauls.

For all of my life I have heard reverential tales of the force of Hurricane Hazel which in October 1954 hit North Carolina, the only category 4 hurricane to do so. (Matthew approached as Category 3 but was Category 1 when the eye passed the Cape Fear region around Wilmington). Yesterday around 4:30 pm Hurricane Matthew surpassed a record set by Hurricane Hazel when the tide gauge in downtown Wilmington rose to 8.21 feet. Hazel’s record of 8.15 feet which had held for 62 years was toppled.

We probably had 4 or 5 inches of rain here yesterday. The meditation circle was largely underwater during the day but the water has soaked in now. Zinnias were knocked down as were the native swamp sunflowers. I had watched the sunflowers swaying all afternoon, surprised to see them standing. They tend to fall over each autumn with or without a storm. Here is how they looked a few days ago.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Last Thursday my husband and I stopped by the Botanical Garden to see what was in bloom. Though I know many of you enjoy asters, I am not really a big fan; however, it was easy to appreciate this large planting in its prime.

Aster at NC Botanical Garden

Aster at NC Botanical Garden

 

Symphyotrichum puniceum (Purple-stem American-aster) -Canada & eastern United States

Symphyotrichum puniceum (Purple-stem American-aster) -Canada & eastern United States

Nearby golden flower heads danced in the gentle breeze.

Solidago spp. (Goldenrod)

Solidago spp. (Goldenrod)

Solidago spp. (Goldenrod)

Solidago spp. (Goldenrod)

And the pink muhly grass was looking splendid.

Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingos' (Hybrid Hair Grass) at NCBG

Muhlenbergia ‘Pink Flamingos’ (Hybrid Hair Grass) at NCBG

Since discovering the beauty of colchicum several years ago I have yet to plant my own, so it is lucky to live close to public gardens where someone thought to grow them.

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colchicum autumnale (Autumn-crocus)

Colonial Gardens

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

We spent a few days in colonial Williamsburg (restored 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia) this week and of course, I wanted to see the many gardens that sit nestled behind and beside the homes and shops in the historic district.

At one such spot a gardener was tidying and cutting back some of the spent flowers. She remarked a bit apologetically the gardens were not at their best, but rather were transitioning, caught at an in-between stage. Nonetheless, I felt the plantings offered plenty to enjoy. In that very garden was this red spectacle of a flower, which I think is Celosia cristata (Cockscomb), underplanted with white Gomphrena.

Colonial Garden In Late September

Colonial Garden In Late September

I was particularly delighted when we happened upon this next little garden at mid-morning.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Last year I planted 5 or 6 Lycoris radiata (spider lily) bulbs, but in early fall the foliage emerged without the plants having flowered. This year not even the foliage returned. My grandmother grew spider lilies and I always associate them fondly with her.

So to be able to lift the latch on the gate from the street and step into this sea of calm green and lively red was sheer indulgence.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

My husband and I were alone in the small, quiet garden. Summer finally letting go, the air was cool and crisp, the sunlight soft and warm. Being here was a lovely, private morning meditation.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Further down the street at the Colonial Nursery’s eighteen century display garden and sales shop, these flowers were tucked into a back corner behind a small hedge. Colchicum, I believe.

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Planted in an out-of-the-way place, they were an unexpected and charming discovery for wandering visitors.

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Note: To learn more this Gardens Brochure is a good starting place. Colonial Williamsburg has information about the history and design of the gardens (use the menu on the left for viewing more garden topics).  In the Related Info section on the right-hand side there are more articles and slideshows.