Friday, August 03, 2007

Montbretia, My Crocosmia

Friday, August 3, 2007

Just in from turning on the hoses as the hot, hot weather is drying out the potted plants faster than we can water. Gail and Winnie watered until dark last night until hunger for supper became more important that drooping plants. This morning it's 76 degrees out and an immediate reminder of yesterday's heat. The Fairbanks Museum reported that yesterday in 1975 New England heat records of 100 in Cornwall,Vermont and 107 in Boston, Massachusetts were set. We won't get close to that today but there is a stuffiness in the air that guarantees an afternoon thunderstorm. Lots of rain in a short amount of time calms the dust on the road but does almost nothing for the gardens.

Wednesday night Gail invited Jerome Bolkum, his friend Barb and our mutual friend Julie to come see the flowers and have a little dinner. If you live around here you know Jerome as Jerome the Florist from Barre. He is one of the finest florists in the business and his arrangements, regardless of the intended event, have a speciality to them that always elicit fine comments. It's always fun to walk the gardens with people who like flowers because you can learn a different perspective about colors and combinations and those little pieces of info that have a place in later work.

The crocosmia was in bloom in the display gardens and Jerome commented on how beautiful it looks. He knows it as Montbretia as that's the way the flower industry refers to it. This is a member of the iris family although the leaf and corm would make you think you are dealing with some type of gladiola. The plant is actually from the grasslands of South Africa although I somehow have it in my head that it grows in South America. I have a habit of missing things by thousands of miles so this error is not uncommon with me.

Montbretia is listed as zone 5 but the brilliant red named 'Lucifer' is certainly very hardy here in zone 4 and perhaps into zone 3 if properly sited. There are white, pink and yellow montbretias on the market but these do not make it here and must be considered an annual. Some have told me that they haven't been successful with 'Lucifer' but after a little discussion we usually arrive at poor siting in wet areas. South African grasslands and under the eaves of a house in Vermont are just not the same.

Gail wanted everyone to come see the daylilies and any time after 6 PM as the sun begins to fade, the daylilies have a special beauty that is never better. Around and around we walked, down through the lower hosta garden, out into the field past the peony nursery and then back up around the house to the main gardens. There was plenty to see and the smiles supported the variety available.

Here are four daylilies I snapped quick pictures of as we walked along. Real Wind, Orange Vols, Chicago Peach and Sea Gold are not expensive daylilies but they are popular with gardeners who visit here. Sea Gold is sold out and I am kicking myself for selling more than I should have. That's how it is with me and begging, badgering, "oh-just-one-please" gardeners.

Well, the sun is coming up fast and I have to get going. Mark is coming for the next three days to help me finish the deer fence at the new property. Gail has her bare root daylily sale going on this weekend so she is already busy getting things set up. Elizabeth will be here to help with sales as Michelle is off to Newport RI to a concert. I'll probably fill in between both places as we get closer and closer to beginning planting at our new property.

If you get a chance over the next three days, stop by and consider some exceptional bare root daylilies. If you can't make it, Gail might (?) be coerced to mail you some if you don't mind some extra shipping and handling and a half bushel of roots. I think she has about 9 varieties prepared for sale and you can't beat the root size for $3 each. Give it some thought.

On a final note I'd like to thank everyone who has made donations to Gail's raffle. She is sponsoring the raffle to support a fall conference on transitioning young adults on the autism spectrum to adulthood and the world of work. Interest has been exceptional and Gail is really pleased to be able to promote information about autism and help with something very dear to both of us. If you want to particiapte but can't make it here, send a donation and Gail will get your raffle tickets into the drawing.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where folks from the pond are speeding up the hill faster than they should so they can get to work and talk about how hot it is.

Best gardening wishes,

Come visit!

George Africa


Bob said...

Some wonderful pictures. Very colourful. Great things for cutting.

Happy gardening, BOB

George Africa said...

Hi Bob;

Yes, they are great cut flowers and the color of 'Lucifer' certainly draws people's attention. Yesterday I was working on our new nursery site and came home to find that Gail had been digging the crocosmia clumps from the gardens and selling them. Seems she was having a problem saying "no" after all the pots sold out. If we weren't moving this year I would probably go crazy but the place will look like swiss cheese in a couple months so a few more holes makes little difference.

One of my sons lives in Seattle and I have to say that you are lucky to be able to grow such a diversity of plants there. If there was just a little more sunlight I might consider a move.

Good gardening!