This tropical-looking flower belongs to one of my newest orchids, a cattleya I won in a raffle at a meeting of my orchid club. It was donated to the club by a member who was moving out west. He was an accomplished greenhouse grower who specialized in cattleyas, (he gave away his entire collection when he moved) but this plant was unnamed. There are four of these blooms on the plant. My orchids are the only flowering plants in my life at this time of year, and they are greatly appreciated for their color. Also, it’s just really cool when you get a new orchid to bloom without having a greenhouse. This plant sits on a humidity tray on a sunny window sill.
Outside, now, to the garden, where the tips of the more than 640 bulbs I planted last fall are beginning to push up through the soil. Since the garden at our new home is a blank slate, I am trying to show restraint and take my time with plantings. I do have a thing for bulbs, though, and not just spring-flowering species. I also love the autumn-flowering colchicums, or autumn crocus, so I’ll plan some of those this year.
And I really love crocosmia, a mid summer-blooming bulb pictured above. The flowers of my favorite cultivar, “Lucifer” are as red as they come. Here’s a photo of some growing at the edge of the perennial border at our former home. (Please excuse the mediocre quality of this photo.) They add small pops of red wherever they are planted.
Crocosmia require well-drained soil and full to partial sun. They are hardy in zones 5 to 9, and can be invasive in some parts of the country, although not here in Rhode Island. They’re inexpensive, they spread when they’re happy, hummingbirds go nuts for those tubular, red flowers, and their tall, skinny foliage adds some vertical interest to the border.