Colchicum speciosum

Autumn Crocus (UK) This distinctive hardy corm-beanng plant from Asia Minor displays 30cm (1ft] long. 10cm (4in] wide leaves In spring and early summer In autumn, when the leaves have died back, its 15cm (6in) high stems bear flowers in a wide range of colours, from white lo pinkish-lilac

Chionodoxa luciliae is superb lor planting under the golden-yellow flowers of the Chinese Witch Hazel [Hamamelis mollis) It also blends perfectly with Narcissus cyclamineus 'February Gold'

Colchicum autumnale the Autumn Crocus or Meadow

Saffron, has nothing to do with crocuses or with saffron, which comes from Crocus sativus. However, its dried corms are a valuable ingredient of medicines.

Righi Colchicum aulumnale

Another conn-bearing plant it produces leaves in spring and early summer that die back afterwards. In autumn, it bears crocus-like flowers that provide welcome colour and reddish-purple. Ii has been crossed with other species to create many superb hybrids Height: 30-38cm (12-15in) Spread: ;75-30cm (!CM2in) Cultivation: Well-drained soil in full sun or light shade suits it. During autumn, plant the corms 7-5-1 Ocm (3-4in) deep in small clumps Propagation: It can be raised trom seed, but the productions flowenng-sized corms takes upto seven years II is easier to lift congested clumps when the leaves have died down and remove the offsets planting them out in a nursery bed for a couple Of years until ready tor their final positions Replant the large, parent corms. too

Colchicum speciosum :■ useful tor planling under shrubs and trees, where its spring and early summer leaves cannot swamp nearby plants It is superb tor planting under species roses

(Convolvulus mauritamcus)

Shrubs Flowering

Convolvulus sabatius

(Convolvulus mauritamcus)

This handsome North American trailing and mat-forming perennial is not fully hardy, so it is ideal for warm, sunny rock gardens or even in hanging-baskets. The 2 5-4cm [1-ltiln) long, almost round, mid-green leaves are surmounted by 2 5cm (¡in) wide, purple-blue, trum pet-shaped flowers with small white throats borne singly from mid to late summer Heighl: 5-7 5cm (2-3in) Spread: 45-60cm (1l2-2ft) Cultivation: Light, well-drained, sandy soil in a warm area and a sheltered position suit it best. It is only really successful in warmer areas. Propagation: During mid-summer take 5cm [2in] long cuttings, inserting them in pots of equal parte peat and sharp sand placing these in a cold frame When the cultmgs are rooted, pot them up singly into small pots of foam-based compost and over-winier them in a frost-proof greenhouse. Wait until late spnng before planting them out into the garden or in containers

Below Convolvulus sabatius

This delightful member of the bindweed family is often belter known as Convolvulus mauritamcus ll is not fully hardy, but well worth growing for its beautiful blue flowers from mid-summer onwards

Crocus tomasinianus

An attractive late-winter flowering bulb this crocus displays narrow dark green leaves wilh pronounced white midribs The flowers range in colour from pale lavender to reddish-purple and are borne during late winter and into early spring Good varieties include Barr s Purple and Whitewell Purple , both purple

Above Crocus tomasinianus

This is one of the earliest crocuses to flower m late winter It needs protection from cold winds but. once established, it wilt thrive in most gardens.

Convolvulus sabatius can be used in a rock garden to Crocus tomasinianus mixes well with many other cover large, bare areas or to trail over rocks where late-winter flowering plants, such as Cyclamen coum

  • t helps to fuse the various elements ot the rock and the Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) or with garden together early-flowering shrubs like Mahonia japonica
  • Crocus neapolitanus) Dutch Crocus (UK and USA)

Height: 7 5-1 Ocm (3-4m) Spread: 5-6 5cm (2-2'jin Cultivation: Ordinary well-drained soil and a sunny, sheltered placelree from cold winds are suitable. It is often recommended for naturalizing m short grass, but it does not always do well in such a position and is best planted in the bare soil of rock gardens or under deciduous trees and shrubs. Set the corms 6 5-7 5cm (2!i-3in) deep. Propagation: It win seed and naturalize itseif quite readily. especially in bare soil. Alternatively, remove cormiets from around the corms. When replanted, these take two or three years to produce good plants

Crocus vernus

(Crocus neapolitanus) Dutch Crocus (UK and USA)

The species is I he parent of the many varieties ol Dutch Crocus with large goblei-shaped flowers in a range of colours including lilac, purple and white often with striking veinmg Fiowermg is during early spring. There are many varieties to choose tram and blue or purple ones include "Queen of the Blues' (lavender-blue). Sinped Beauty (dark purple blue stripes on a silver-white background and with a violet-purple base to the petals) and Purpureas Grandiflorus (purple-blue). Height: 7-5-13cm (3-5m) Spread: 4-5cm (l>2in) Cultivation: Well-drained soil and a sheltered and sunny position suit it II can be grown in rock gardens or naturalized in Ihe short, fine grass ol an alpme meadow Propagation: Lift and divide the corms when the foliage has died down after flowering Remove the small cormiets and replant them.

Qelow Crocus vernus Striped Beauty

This Dutch crocus has delicate veinmg on its large, goblet-shaped flowers. The bulbs increase naturally until large dnfts are formed if given tree-draining soil and a positon where it gets plenty of sun.

Crocus vernus is 3 perfect match for Narcssus cydamineus February Gold' with brighi yellow spring Mowers and Crocus aureus Dutch Gold which has deep yellow blooms

Cultivation: Well-drained deep soil and a sunny position suit it best. Propagation: During late winter, sow seeds in small pots of loam-based seed compost and place them in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into bigger pots when they are large enough to handle Alternatively, in late summer, take 5cm (21 n) long cuttings and insert them in pots of equal parts peat and sharp sand, placing them in a cold frame. When they are rooted, pot up the cuttings. Plant them in ihe garden in spring

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