Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fire Power; Plants That Wait until Now to Shine Are a Welcome Sight, Especially If, like Crocosmia, They Are Gracious and Happily Mix and Mingle

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fire Power; Plants That Wait until Now to Shine Are a Welcome Sight, Especially If, like Crocosmia, They Are Gracious and Happily Mix and Mingle

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

LL through our hot borders in great clouds, crocosmia are in full flight.

ASwathes of their flowers in hot oranges and searing reds warm up the place and bring an exotic touch.

Not everyone is as keen as me. Many see these plants as a nuisance to be ousted as soon as they appear. They've acquired this reputation because one of their ilk, Crocosmia crocosmiiflora otherwise known as montbretia, can spread like wildfire.

If you are travelling in the countryside, especially in the South West or in Ireland, you are almost bound to come face to face with this orange flower, somewhat incongruous but pleasantly pretty. As an outcast from gardens, Crocosmia crocosmiiflora has made its way to cliffs, hedgerows and road verges. The familiar or perhaps over-familiar, montbretia was introduced as a novelty from France, from the Lemoine nursery in the 1880s and was hailed as a wonderful new ornament for gardens.

When gardeners began to realise just how far and wide it could spread, it soon fell out of favour. But nursery people realised there was something about the genus and they started to introduce hybrids.

|Recently, they have had something of a renaissance. Fitting in with modern styles of planting, old varieties have been resuscitated and new cultivars created.

As the summer progresses they supply an injection of hot colour that gets the garden pulse racing.

Plants that wait till now to do their thing are always welcome, especially if they are tough and enduring. If they are gracious and match the mood of the moment they are especially treasured.

Many crocosmia have drooping flowers, recalling the nodding flowers of one of their parents, Crocosmia aurea, a delightful plant with pale amber flowers and long stamens. It is a tender plant and some of its offspring inherit this delicacy.

The other main species used in the breeding of many modern cultivars is Crocosmia pottsii, an upright species with vivid red flowers.

One of the earliest hybrids is Crocosmia 'Solfatare'. Bronze leaves complement its glorious amber flowers. …

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