Tag Archives: planting bulbs

A Place for Crocosmia

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Many members of the garden club weren’t surprised that I’d planted Crocosmia.  It’s a pretty, summer flowering corm that hummingbirds flock to.

But those same folks seem absolutely aghast that I’d planted so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It all started with an empty garden, and a ‘free‘ load of soil.

We built large berms & planted shrubs in hopes of one day having lush borders.  Before much else even had a chance to grow, Crocosmia was popping up everywhere.

crocosmia Lucifer garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What a delight!  The novice gardener in me was thrilled with the free plants.  I recognized the strappy leaves, and the cascading flowers from other gardens.  I admired them.

I thought the plants were wonderfully tenacious to recover from being buried 2-3 feet down.  They valiantly sent sprouts up toward the light, then as they grew leaves, they developed a new corm just under the soil.   Clever, eh?

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I was told that Crocosmia was a ‘persistent’ grower, but I figured I could handle it.  For several years the waves of Crocosmia  crowded out weeds & gave me time to concentrate on other parts of the yard.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’m still pleased with growing so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It’s disappointing that deer eat the blooms, but a good deer repellent takes care of that.
  • It’s disappointing that Crocosmia isn’t as drought tolerant as hoped, but I’ve found that Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) replaces it well (after strenuous digging &  meticulous removal).

Although I’ve swapped out some patches, many remain.  I like that their leaves start to show in March… and hold out through  most of December

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’ve even welcomed another variety into the yard.

Crocosmia Lucifer is an architectural statement.  It’s easy to see how the flaming red flowers inspired the dramatic name.

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The smaller, old fashioned Crocosmia, aka Montbretia, might not be as popular as it was a few decades ago, but I’d bet most members of the garden club keep a place for ‘Lucifer”.

It’s unlikely there’s room for more than a patch or two of these beasts in our yard.  Even one patch makes an impact.  I reckon it won’t be swapped out for anything else any time soon.

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Meadow Blooms 2 – Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa - Glory of Snow near Dunlop House
photo by SVSeekins

In March a couple of years ago I started noticing patches of tiny blue flowers along the roads of older neighborhoods.  Here were flowers flourishing in areas that hadn’t been manicured for a very long time.

I soon realized these blooming meadows are the naturalized dreams of gardeners past. I’m charmed by that romance.

It turns out these hardy bloomers are Glory of Snow, or, if you like unpronounceable names: Chionodoxa,      Try to say that easily the first time around! 🙂

Glory of Snow originated in Turkey & Greece – along the Mediterranean.  I’ve heard southern Vancouver Island compared to a Mediterranean rain forest, so it makes sense these plants survive well here.  What surprises me more is that they’re hardy to zone 4!  They can withstand a whole lot more cold. Do these grow in your neck of the woods??

Chionodoxa - Glory of Snow in rock crevice
photo by SVSeekins

Aside from naturalizing well, these plants are also valuable to me because they’re:

  • winter blooming
  • drought tolerant 
  • low maintenance

Once planted, just leave them to their own devices.  How great is that?  I’ve even seen them surviving in shallow crevices of rocky outcroppings.

Chionodoxa - Glory of Snow meadow behind Dunlop House
photo by SVSeekins

They seem perfectly happy in lawns, too, although I’ll bet they do better if the grass isn’t cut until late April when they’re done for the season.  That would mean it’s more of a meadow than a lawn.  C wouldn’t go for that.  He likes lush, but trim.  That’s why I’ve added Glory of Snow as under-story plantings in our shrub border instead.

The best patch I’ve ever come across is around Dunlop House Restaurant, a heritage building on the grounds of Camosun College, and the facility of their Hospitality Management Program.  C’s mum took us there for supper the other night.  The meal was lovely, and the meadow: spectacular!

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

P.S.  Here’s some other meadow faves:

Meadow Blooms 1 – Crocus

Crocus happily mingled throughout the grass!! That’s my happy place.  🙂

Crocus in lawn 2013
photo by SVSeekins
planting crocus in lawn
phot by SVSeekins
the crocus meadow in 2012
photo by SVSeekins

We started with a Dandelion Dilemma in the fall of 2011.  The chosen solution was digging out the weeds & dropping crocus bulbs in the subsequent holes.

After all that digging, the lawn looked pretty rough through the winter.

Then there was some tentative success with crocus blooms in the spring of 2012.  Perhaps the bulbs hadn’t had time to root well before winter came?

And the lawn still looked like it had been attacked by gophers.  I had hoped it would recover more quickly.

12 mnths after dandelion digging
photo by SVSeekins

It probably would’ve been better to have given that whole area a good layer of top-dressing.  But that would’ve cost more money & taken more effort, too…  So I didn’t.

Over the summer, the grass recovered on its own.  Isn’t patience a beautiful thing?

Only a few of the dandelions came back.  I’ve tried to jump on those as soon as they show up.  Perseverance is a good ambition in these circumstances.

Crocus in lawn 2013
photo by SVSeekins

Now I’m reassured that spring is on its way because the crocuses are here & doing their happy dance.  As sunshine beams down, they open up.  They quickly close when a cloud passes over.  When the sun caresses them again, they open back up.  They’re so whimsical & busy!

What a lovely reward for all that digging 18 months ago.  🙂

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

P.S.  Here’s a post from another writer who did a very

snow crocus, woodland crocus, early crocus, summit park, crocus, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

a similar project, only without all the dandelion to contend with:

… and one from an established local meadow

PP.S. Here are some other meadow faves: