The Naked Lady Lily
The Rarely Available
FALL BLOOMING Bulbs
We welcome nearly 1000 new subscribers to our newsletter. If you are receiving this newsletter for the first time, you provided Harvesting History with your email address in exchange for a free seed packet at one of the early 2019 flower shows or outdoor garden festivals. At this time of year, we publish our newsletter once every 2 weeks with the exception of July 1, July 2, July 3, and July 4. During those 4 days each year we publish a little known but remarkable, true story about the creation of this country and therole that horticulture may have played. We hope you enjoy and learn something from these historically based newsletters, and that as a result you will all become even more successful gardeners.
Each year in June we introduce/re-introduce our readers to an extraordinary family of flowers known as the FALL BLOOMING bulbs. These bulbs are very rarely available at garden centers because of their extremely short shelf life (less than 3 weeks), but they are the most stunning part of a late summer and or fall garden, and they should be a part of every gardener’s collection. The FALL BLOOMING bulbs include: Colchicums, Lycoris/Amaryllis Bella Donna (Naked Lady) and Hardy Cyclamen.
Besides being beautiful and a fresh addition to the garden landscape that in late summer and early autumn is weary, the FALL BLOOMING bulbs aredeer resistant.
Colchicum and Crocus are often confused because they closely resemble each other, but they are not related. Colchicum belong to their own family of plants, Colchicaceae, while the spring blooming Crocus belong to the Iris Family, Iridaceae. The name, Colchicum, was derived from the name of an ancient kingdom which legend describes as the home of all sorcery. The mythical kingdom was located in an area between the Caucasus and Armenia. The first Colchicum were said to have sprung from drops of a potion brewed bythe enchantress, Medea, daughter of the king of Colchis, who brewed thepotion to restore youth.
Colchicum are actually quite potent plants. All parts of the plant possess the drug, colchicine, which is an effective cure for gout. The blossoms develop in the fall and the foliage appears in the spring. The foliage is much larger than the blossoms. One interesting fact about Colchicum is that they can by grown indoors by simply placing the bulbs in a dish with no water or soil. They will flower easily and then produce roots. They will do this because they are used to hot, dry summers and will only produce roots when the rains come in late fall. If you decide to try this you must plant your bulbs outside as soon as they finish blooming and it may take two years for them to produce blooms again.
Naked Ladies, Surprise Lilies, Resurrection Lilies, Magic Lilies are all names which apply to two plants: the Amaryllis Bella Donna and the Lycoris squamigera. Both plants produce amaryllis-like, strapping leaves in the spring which die back completely by early summer. Then in late summer the plants produce 1-3 flower stems which reach a height of 18-24 inches. At the top of the flower stems 2-4, pink, trumpet-shaped blossoms form. The Amaryllis Bella Donna are less hardy than the Lycoris squamigera. The former is hardy from Hardiness Zones 6-9 and the latter is hardy from Hardiness Zones 4-9. Both bulbs are available in the fall and in the spring.
Amaryllis Bella Donna is native to the rocky hillsides of South Africa and was introduced into cultivation in Europe in 1712. Lycoris squamigera belongs to a group of plants that are members of the Amaryllis family. The name Lycoris comes from the name of the Roman actress who was the mistress of Marc Anthony. All of the Lycoris are native to China and Japan and were introduced into Europe and the British Isles in 1888.
Cyclamen are native to the lands bordering the Adriatic and the Eastern Mediterranean. In some of these areas they are more prolific than the dandelions of North America. They are rarely grown in gardens of the region because they are so plentiful on the roadsides. Unlike the hothouse cyclamen that most of us know from the holiday season and mid-winter, the hardy cyclamen are small, delightfully delicate plants with leaves that are spotted and almost as ornamental as the blossoms. The name ‘cyclamen’ comes from the Greek, kyklos, meaning circular and referring to the unusual twisting of the spent flower stalk in some of the cultivars.
Saffron is considered the most expensive spice on the planet. The use of saffron dates back to the very beginnings of civilization when, even then, it was regarded as a rare and luxurious item. It is grown for the bright yellow pollen that covers the stamens at the center of each blossom. This bright yellow dust is an extraordinary coloring agent for food and material. The Greeks and Chinese died fabric only worn by their royalty with saffron. The spice also has a very mild, pleasant flavor, but it is mostly coveted for its coloring ability.
You are not going to get a lot of saffron from a package of bulbs. Each bulb will produce 2-5 stamen (stigmata). When dried the stigmata are called threads.
It takes at least 2-3 threads to color a pan of rice. It takes 35,000 bulbs to produce a pound of saffron. It would take 1100 bulbs to produce a half ounce of saffron – the amount one cook would probably use in a year if they cooked with saffron frequently.
This crocus WILL NOT grow in Hardiness Zones 1-3, but it flourishes in Hardiness Zones 5-10. It is somewhat temperamental in Zone 4, but often grows there as well. It produces more stamen than the Wild Saffron Crocus and that is why it is preferred over the wild type.
Saffron has always been a key spice in bouillabaisse, paella, cookies, breads, cakes and the cooking of the East Indian, Middle Eastern and North African cultures. The spice enhances the flavors of mild cheeses, eggs, lamb, rice, fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, duck, cream, corn, sweet peppers, onions, shallots, garlic and oranges.
If you want to try to grow your own saffron, you need to order soon. We always have a limited supply of these bulbs.
However, we will not ship until late August or early September when we receive our shipment of these bulbs. You must plant them as soon as possible, and they will bloom this fall. Let me repeat: THE BULBS WILL BLOOM THIS FALL AND YOU CAN HARVEST THE STAMEN THIS FALL.
The bulbs offered in the fall under the name Bella Donna Lily by Harvesting History are Lycoris squamigera. This plant is the hardiest of the Lycoris. No leaves accompany the solitary stems, but the visual impact is stunning, especially in the tired autumn garden.
Bella Donna Lilies should be planted in late summer to early fall for a mid to late fall bloom. Plant each bulb at least 6 in. deep and 8-10 in. apart.
The White Autumn Crocus is a legendary plant developed in the late 1800s by a nursery in Yorkshire, England. Its large, pure white blooms are considered by many to be the finest of all fall blooming crocus.
E.A. Bowles, a famous Edwardian gardener stated, “Cannot be equaled for beauty in the late fall.” When it was first offered for sale in the late 19th century, it sold for the outrageous price of $7 a bulb
This plant is smaller than giganteum, but still produces a huge presence in the fall garden with its glistening white blossoms. Plant 4 in. deep and about 6 in. apart. White Autumn Crocus do best in full sun, but can tolerate light shade.
One of the finest of the autumn-flowering species, the Autumn Crocus, Crocus kotschyanus, has a lovely pale lilac blossom with striking orange stamen. Plant 4 in. deep and about 6 in. apart.
This cultivar was introduced into Europe and the British Isles before 1854. It is native to Lebanon.
The Waterlily Crocus was introduced in 1905 by the English nurseryman, J. J. Kerbeert of Zocher & Co., Haarlem, England. It was the result of an intensive breeding program managed by Kerbeert.
Of all the bulbs which bloom in the autumn garden this is undeniably the most opulent. The huge, 4-6 in. wide rose pink blooms are a welcome surprise in the dreary fall. A single corm can produce as many as 8 blossoms.
This plant is definitely a “MUST HAVE” for any garden. Plant the corms 6 in. deep and 6-8 in. apart.
All of the bulbs discussed in this newsletter can be grown in containers. A 10-12 inch diameter pot is ideal, but larger and smaller containers can also be used. The 10-12 inch pot will accommodate 20 saffron crocus bulbs, 8 gigantic or autumnal colchicum or 6 Waterlily crocus. The same size pot will accommodate 4 Naked Ladies or 6-8 hardy cyclamen. Remember to use generous amountsof bone meal when planting (1 cup per pot). In zones 4-5, the pots should be protected during the winter months.
FALL BLOOMING bulbs are a delightful way to begin the academic year with children and teenagers. Bulbs planted within the first week of school will produce beautiful blossoms and stimulate and inspire the minds of students within 6 weeks.
The ideal choice is the Waterlily crocus. It begins to grow within a few days and produces amazingly opulent blossoms.
If you don’t plant a single thing this summer, you should plant one of the fall blooming crocus bulbs. They are one of the nicest surprises of the fall. They can be planted in full sun or partial shade, and they can be planted in containers. Many of our customers have never seen the FALL BLOOMING bulbs and do not realize what they are and how exquisite they are. FALL BLOOMING bulbs are very rare, but they are also very sturdy plants and incredibly easy to start and maintain. Many of them are deer and critter resistant.
FALL BLOOMING bulbs bloom in August, September, October and November. They DO NOT BLOOM IN THE SPRING. They are hardy and they are perennials so they will bloom every fall and they will bloom this fall.
They are some of the greatest gifts our gardens offer because at a time when our gardens are weary and tired looking these bulbs burst forth from the soil and give us color and dimension like we rarely see in the fall. They are simply stunning.
YES, they do come back each year, and YES they will spread – doubling about every 12 months.
Here is the ‘hitch’. Most garden centers and nurseries do not offer Fall BLOOMING Bulbs for sale because the bulbs have a very short shelf life and customers are away on vacations, not frequenting their favorite plant store. Unlike the bulbs you plant in the fall or the bulbs you plant in the spring, fall blooming crocus have to be ordered in June or July. We receive the bulbs in August and ship them to you immediately.
You, then, need to plant the bulbs in late August or early September and they will begin blooming for you in September or early October, about 6 weeks after they are planted.
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