A Wet Day with Beautiful Flowers.

The good weather of earlier in the week has gone. That bright crispness and that sharp coolness in the air have given way to dullness, mistiness, clamminess and a general feeling of misery and no opportunity to garden. Were it tomorrow, November 1st, I could make a timelier quotation of Thomas Hood’s poem, “November” but, even today, a little is not entirely misplaced:

No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —

And, of course, I could add “no gardening.”

Farm walk (1)
The lane to our neighbour’s, all but obscured by morning fog and mist

Two grandchildren visited – a Hallowe’en visit – one dressed as Fireman Sam and the other, not yet three weeks old, as a most convincing cat – kitten? We were tricked and they were treated though the kitten slept through it all in a most disinterested manner. Clever girl!

To pass the rest of the day there was a little reading, writing and look back over photographs – a search for brighter days and cheering flowers. It is the colchicums which have most appealed to me this autumn. They certainly blossom when most else is finishing and going to decay. They flower without foliage and, so, one of their common name, Naked Ladies! – the foliage grows in spring and many gardeners complain that it is both large and coarse but I forgive it that small fault as I enjoy the flowers so much at this time of the year.

I hope my photographs will show the beauty of these plants and that you enjoy them!

Colchicum parlatoris
This very small species colchicum – Colchicum parlatoris – was grown from seed, part of the annual seed offer from the Alpine Garden Society. It has been growing on a raised bed for 15+ years and is always a great pleasure to see when it comes into flower. The slugs and snails do love it so it is a great pleasure to see it come through and flower well.
Colchicum parlatoris (1)
Colchicum parlatoris
Colchicum autumnale (2)
This colchicum has been in the garden for many years, certainly 25+, and always gives a wonderful display. Its failing is that the flowers collapse and lie on the ground after only a day or two – and earlier if the weather is inclement – but, even on the ground they continue to give a wonderful splash of colour. It is, I believe, a cultivar of Colchicum autumnale but I cannot recall its name – ‘Rosy Dawn’ comes to mind but I couldn’t be sure of that. Post Scriptum: ‘Lilac Wonder’ seems more likely – see Kathy’s comment below. I certainly recall having ‘Lilac Wonder’ so this fits better! 
Colchicum autumnale (6)
The following images will, I hope, show that despite its fault this is a exquisite flower which adds colour and beauty to the autumn garden.

Colchicum autumnale (4)

Colchicum autumnale (2)

Colchicum under Aesculus mutabilis induta (3)


Colchicum 'Waterlily' (3)
Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, a cultivar with double flowers – with many more petals than the usual six found on the usual plant – is an excellent garden plant. The stem is short and, so, it stands up better to the weather. Here, I have it planted among Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Niger’ which gives support to the flowering stems. Our native Meadow Saffron grows in rich riverside meadows where the flower stems are supported by the lush grass.


Colchicum 'Waterlily' (2)
Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ grew very successfully in this position for many years but had started to dwindle in vigour in the past few years so I decided to lift the bulbs and plant them elsewhere. I quickly understood what had happened as they were completely entangled in the roots of a large hornbeam tree planted nearby. When both were planted the tree was young and small but it has spread over the hyears.
Colchicum 'Waterlily' (1)
Not all of the bulbs which were transferred during the summer – its dormant period – have flowered but some have and I’m sure the others will recover within a year or two.
Colchicum 'Nancy Lindsay'
Colchicum ‘Nancy Lindsay’ has been in the garden for only a few years but it promised to be an excellent garden plant as it has already built up in numbers and has the very welcome habit of holding the flowers upright and shows no inclination to collapsing.
Colchicum 'Nancy Lindsay' (1)
Colchicum ‘Nancy Lindsay’ responding to good sunshine.
Colchicum speciosum 'Album' (2)
Colchicum speciosum ‘Album’ – how I wish this one would increase more quickly. White is always a colour I enjoy. I must wait patiently!
Colchicum 'Dick Trotter' (4)
Colchicum ‘Dick Trotter’ has only been with me for two years but looks very attractive and promising.
Colchicum 'Dick Trotter'
Colchicum ‘Dick Trotter’ – what an attractive and rich colour!
Colchicum 'Benton End'
Colchicum ‘Benton End’ – named for the garden of artist Cedric Morris who was an enthusiastic gardener. An exquisite flower!


Colchicum 'Benton End' on raised bed (1)
Colchicum ‘Benton End
Colchicum 'Harlekijin' (2)
A first flowering this year from Colchicum ‘Harlekijn’, a miserable flower because of rain and slug damage but it will be better in coming years.
Colchicum 'Harlekijn' (1)
Colchicum ‘Harlekijn. 


Colchicum 'Old Bones' (3)
Colchicum ‘Old Bones’ is a beautiful clear clean white and is multiplying well so promises to be an excellent garden plant.
Colchicum speciosum 'Rubrum'
Last to flower this year – though there are a few which haven’t appeared as of yet – is Colchicum speciosum ‘Rubrum’ which has a wonderfully rich colour which I like very much.
Colchicum speciosum 'Rubrum' (3)
Colchicum speciosum ‘Rubrum’

9 thoughts on “A Wet Day with Beautiful Flowers.

    1. Oooh, many thanks, Kathy. I have been racking my old brain in an attempt to remember the name. It is many years since we got this one and, despite the flopping, it has built up very well with three good patches in the garden. ‘Lilac Wonder’ it is then – I do recall having it but wasn’t sure it this on was it. Many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. ‘Rosy Dawn’ looks like C. speciosum with an exceptionally large white throat, so it clearly wasn’t that, and ‘Lilac Wonder’ has a reputation for floppiness. The RHS’ magazine “The Garden” has an article on colchicums in its October issue. There is a photograph on the article’s title page of a dozen or so labeled colchicums, sort of a miniature field guide.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It is a magazine I used enjoy and kept my membership active so as to be able to attend the Chelsea Flower Show on members’s day but in latter years the magazine has come to carry far more advertisements than I like – some are financially necessary for the success of any magazine but it had gone to the stage of being a impediment to reading the magazine – and I have allowed my membership to lapse.


      3. Many thanks for your informative comments, by the way. Much appreciated – and I will go and label the colchicums accurately now!


  1. Paddy,

    I have noticed how you have planted some of these bulbs, with small delicate flowers, in gravel. I have planted these autumn bulbs in beds, which are always soggy & heavy this time of year (I am on rather heavy clay) which does not help the look of these small species as they tend to get bogged down with heavy rain. The gravel background certainly provides an excellent foil & although I am not a particular fan of beds topped with gravel, I am going to experiment with bulbs in a small area of hardcore. Your examples are, as ever, tip-top & so well choreographed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This situation seems to have suited Colchicum parlatoris, mainly because it is such a small plant. It would be lost in the open garden. I have planted some of the larger colchicums in a similar raised bed but simply to give them a year or two to bulk up. Not all need the wet conditions we associate with C. autumnale which grows in riverside meadows here. Others seem to prefer drier conditions.


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