HELEN LANG: Flowering plant likes to take over

Unsual flower, crocosmia, could be called an invasive species if it wasn't so beautiful

As you read this I may be in Cedar visiting my brother, Herb, who got me started growing allium.

He had such a beautiful one in his garden and I was jealous. “I want one too,” I exclaimed. Now I have several; two entirely different varieties which have amazing flowers.

I have five large, dried blooms in a big vase in a place of honour in the living room, where they may be admired for their interesting shapes. Not quite the same as a bowl of flowers, but unusual and, I think, attractive.

A flower you don’t often see any more (I’m surprised that they aren’t more popular) is called crocosmia. It was formerly named montbretia – I wonder why they keep changing the name? Anyway, a friend has an area that has been full of bloom other years, but is pretty barren this year. She wonders why?

A guess on my part is that they are starving, having depleted all the nourishment in that particular spot. They are great multipliers. I once had them in a bed which they decided was ‘their’ home, and everyone else better move along. If they weren’t so attractive I’d call them an invasive species.

Give yours a generous dose of 15-30-15 this fall and another in early spring and I think you’ll be rewarded with masses of flowers.

You also might consider digging up the corms and re-planting only some of them, giving the rest to someone who has lots of room with very little in it. They won’t have to feel unloved after a year or two.

One of my cousins has sent me a magazine clipping showing pictures and talking about gardening in raised beds on the roof of a condominium. I love the idea, but feel it would be a dangerous practice here. I live on the top floor of my building and the idea of a ton of soil just above my head somehow doesn’t appeal to me, especially as we live in an earthquake zone, and this place isn’t exactly new.

Thanks, but  no thanks. I think I better stick with my pots, and cut down on my farming.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s gardening columnist for more than 30 years.


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