Waiting for colchicums

Beckie Fox

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Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall. (Garden Making photo)

The pale buds of colchicum flowers will soon be pushing their way through the detritus of fallen leaves. These hardy bulbs play hide and seek as their strappy leaves emerge in spring and then disappear and lie low until early fall when their large cupped pink, white or purple flowers burst forth. Even though I’ve grown a large clump of purple colchicums beside the front walk for years, I’m always surprised when I see their cheerful greeting in late September. They’re something fresh to look forward to when other plants in the garden are looking rather ragged..

Late summer or early fall is the time to plant these beauties. For more information on how to grow and popular cultivars, see “Fall-blooming colchicums.”

Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall. (Garden Making photo)
Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall.

Gardens Ottawa launches self-guided garden tour

If you’re in Ottawa anytime soon, leave time for a self-guided tour of the Garden Promenade, a route with 75 garden experiences that range from artistic installations and themed events to historical landmarks and attractions, all with a garden theme.

Stops on the route include the Canadian War Museum rooftop garden, Central Experimental Farm, Rideau Hall Gardens, the Japanese Zen garden at the Canadian Museum of History and a selection of community gardens.

“Gardens Ottawa is pleased to invite everyone to take a Garden Promenade self-guided tour and discover the Capital’s tremendous garden experiences,” says Michel Gauthier, president of Gardens Ottawa. “Remember, a garden is a friend, especially in times of COVID-19.”

For garden descriptions, maps and short videos, go to the Garden Promenade website.

Fall anemones to consider

Perennial Japanese anemones are beginning to hit their stride. They’re a delicate counterpoint to the bulky ornamental grasses and husky hydrangeas that make up fall borders. Read about ‘Honorine Jobert’ and ‘September Charm’, two popular favourites, and other fall anemone cultivars here.

Don’t shoot the messenger

As much as it pains me to say this, it’s almost time to begin acclimating your houseplants that have summered outdoors to indoor living conditions. For me, a fancy-leaved begonia, a couple of myrtle topiaries, a rosemary and a large flame of the woods (Ixora coccinea) that I’ve had for almost 10 years will need to be re-introduced to life indoors a few hours at a time over the next few weeks.

This gradual process is a bit of a hassle, and needs to be completed before nighttime temperatures drop. However, gradually easing the plants into managing with less light and usually drier air means they suffer less shock. The Laidback Gardener has more complete advice on when and how to help your plants make the transition.

Making the most of a lockdown

I’ll let the headline and deck speak for this fascinating story. “A photographer turned his Mumbai window into a butterfly garden: He spent $5 on a few water jugs and two succulents.”

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