Some gardeners are unaware of the other season for some bulbs. Yes, there are summer blooming bulbs, like lilies and gladiolus, but the fall is another great time for bulbs. Fall favorites include Colchicum, saffron crocus and the Nerine.
The Colchicum, which is an old fashioned bulb, is usually found in old homesteads. It is a fall blooming crocus that has large bright lilac blooms. The leaves come out in the spring and create energy for the bulb underground. In the fall the leaves die down and the blooms come out. Very cool and light under a tree.
Another fall blooming crocus is the saffron crocus, crocus sativus. This is a beautiful more traditional crocus in size but has the added benefit of saffron threads. If you have ever cooked with saffron you know how expensive it is. Here is a really good way to grow your own! Luminous purple with red orange long stigma (saffron) and yellow pistils, they are stunning! These are available at nurseries and on-line (I can’t say it enough, buy local!). They can be planted now and you should see results in the late fall (in my Zone 7 garden).
One of the holy grails of bulbs and little known in cultivation in the Pacific Northwest is the Nerine. This is a beautiful mystic flower. I found one in the cut flower section of my local florist this month and was again reminded of their loveliness. They are mostly from South Africa and are not hardy here. The Nerine Bowdenii is hardy in our area. More cultivars using the Nerine Bowdenii have been developed and new color changes have been created. Many gardeners grow nerines in their greenhouse. The Pacific Bulb Society has good information on growing and displaying nerines. They put me in touch with a website that have nerines for sale at a reasonable price. Nerine undulata is on its way to me even as we speak. It is not hardy here but I should be able to keep it in my greenhouse. This nerine blooms in the summer and is beautiful and spider like.
Here are a few Nerines on order from www.telosrarebulbs.com.
6450 Nerine masoniorum Zone 7-10
6460 Nerine sarniensis var. corusca major zone 8 – 10
6471 Nerine hybrid ‘Venus’
The Nerine hybrid ‘venus’ has nerine bowdenii as a parent so it is hardy to zone 7.
In case you were wondering how to plant these lovely bulbs take a look at the video below.