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A trip to Cold Climate Gardening

September 28, 2008

…and a cache of colchicums! and iris and rue and narcissus…

early morning when it didn't freeze.

early morning when it didn

I had the pleasure of driving over to see Kathy Purdy a few weeks ago, to take her up on the offer of some surplus colchicum bulbs. If you don’t know, she’s pretty much the colchicum maven in these parts, and I was giddy to get to share in her boon and her wisdom.

We took a tour of her gardens in the Sunday drizzle, accompanied by two of her charming daughters. Cadie’s morning glories are even lovelier up close, and I’m dying to plant some Glacier Stars and other varieties all along Buddy’s fence next year for some of that color. May the Beagle not find them as tasty as chickens do.

Their whole garden is a living history of the Purdy family and ones who were there before–Kathy showed me her “birthday garden,” the first she dug and planted on the property, along with special things like the secret garden and the children’s garden, where the kids had planted sweet colorful flowers (and monster sunflowers!).

After admiring a luscious clump of Siberian iris for its lanky foliage, Kathy dug me some, along with a patch of rue and a feverfew seedling from among some she’s planting. We visited Bub, her neighbor with the cool labyrinth, who offered me Narcissus poeticus and another variety. Why yes! Thank you! Their generosity reminds me of Lucille, our old family friend, and the many bearded iris bulbs she gave Mom over the years, and our wonder as they would bloom into huge otherworldly creatures. It reminds me of Jenny growing tomatoes, even though she doesn’t even like them, to expand the small crop you get in the West Texas desert for my folks. Gardeners are generous, and I look forward to having plants in the ground long enough to grow up and become share-worthy.

As she’s written, Kathy discovered colchicums because they were already growing around the house. Here’s what she says about ones she gave me (from her blog):

These colchicums were growing here when we moved in, and have multiplied freely. They are very adaptable, as you might expect from a bulb that has been in cultivation for over 300 years. The botanist who named them got his from two Viennese ladies who got them from someone in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire. They are almost always my earliest blooming colchicum.

From Byzantium to Slaterville Springs. Here are mine.

early morning when it didn't freeze.

the early morning after it didn

with the cranesbill. they make a pretty pair.

with the cranesbill. they make a pretty pair.

the morning after it didn't freeze

in early morning sun

close up, early morning

close up, early morning

evening light

evening light

with the one heuchera

in the evening, with the one heuchera

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2008 9:12 pm

    Gorgeous pics. I love these flowers but they don’t do too well in our Mediterranean style climate. Nice to view even from a distance.

  2. September 29, 2008 3:17 pm

    What a lovely write-up! Your colchicums certainly do photograph well.

  3. ms. fox permalink
    September 30, 2008 2:56 pm

    beauties, every one! something about that fuchsia color in autumn is exquisite! i wonder if they survive in texas?!

  4. October 5, 2008 2:54 pm

    You know, I wonder if they would grow here, or would it be too hot. I’m glad you got to visit Kathy. She’s a dear friend and gardener.~~Dee

  5. October 6, 2008 10:56 am

    Followed Kathy’s link to your blog. Lovely write-up and we are neighbors too!

  6. October 7, 2008 11:27 am

    Colchicums are wonderful. Ours are growing in a crowded spot, but even there, the way they catch the morning light is spectacular. I do promise to move them next summer so more people can enjoy them.

  7. October 9, 2008 8:54 am

    I like the image of two ladies receiving their Colchicums while traveling on a train through Constantinople. It’s all rather Mrs Marple-ish! They are lovely blooms!

  8. September 27, 2010 5:15 pm

    Lynn, thanks for the link to this post. I envy you your visit to CC Kathy. One of these days I hope to meet her and see her garden.
    I’m so happy to know that we have Kathy’s Colchicums blooming in Kylie’s garden here on the farm…thanks to you passing them along. I can’t wait until they multiply and Kylie, in turn, will hopefully pass some along to me.
    Aren’t they a beautiful color?
    Yes, gardeners are wonderfully generous people. Thanks for your generosity! :)
    I’m chuckling about Gail’s comment. The Colchicum story does sound rather Miss Marple-ish :)

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