Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 4
August 2008
Late-Blooming Perennials
  Bulbs That Provide Fall Color  
Spring jumps to mind with the words bulb and corm, but some hardy fall bloomers are also available. One of these is the lovely Colchicum autumnale, whose common names are autumn crocus (though it is not a crocus) and naked ladies, since the pink, lavender or white flowers emerge without foliage, which comes the following spring.

Some true crocuses do flower in the fall, such as saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), the source of the spice saffron, Kotschy's crocus (C. kotschyanus) and showy crocus (C. speciosus). Fall crocuses look like their spring-blooming kin but are not nearly as tough. Most are reliably hardy only in American zone 5/Canadian zone 6 and warmer.

Depending on your climate, you may also have many additional fall-flowering perennial and bulb choices. An autumn visit to local display gardens and nurseries will give you some ideas for alternatives to potted mums that will carry your perennial garden through to the frost with freshness, structure and color.

Lorri MacKay

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