Colchicum- Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron

Autumn-flowering bulbous plant; the flowers resemble a giant crocus. The entire plant is extremely poisonous, also to cattle.


Worth growing in an autumn garden; its colour goes well with dropping leaves. Likes sun or partial shade; they will often multiply naturally.


Requires rich, moist soil.


The common species from seed; hybrids from offsets.

Colchicum autmnale: common autumn crocus: Height 15-20 cm, flowering season late summer to mid autumn; lilac-pink or lilac-red flowers. The foliage appears in spring. ‘Albiflorum’ has white flowers; ‘Purpureum’, deep purple.

Colchicum hybrids: A group with very large flowers, eg ‘The Giant’, deep lilac; ‘Violet Queen’, purple violet; and ‘Waterlily’, lilac double-flowered, which resembles a waterlily. compost – anything that is humus rich. Culture On a smooth wall the plants cannot get a hold; they must therefore be trained and tied in. All species and hybrids flowering after early summer may be cut down in spring to 70-100 cm from the ground. Other climbers must only be thinned out a little after flowering.


The herbaceous plants may be increased from seed or by division. Layering is the simplest method to propagate climbers.

Herbaceous plants

Clematis X durandii. Height to 150 cm; large deep-violet flowers on limp stems in early summer to early autumn; requires support.

Clematis recta: Height to 150 cm; creamy-white flowers early to mid summer. Excellent border plant.

Climbing shrubs

Clematis hybrids: Extensive group of large-flowered climbers, and definitely the most important members of the genus. They can reach as height of 5 m, flower from late spring to late summer, depending on the strain. We distinguish five types:

Lanuginosa ‘Mrs Le Coultre’, white; ‘Nelly Moser’, mauve with darker coloured veins; ‘Prince Hendrik’, lavender blue, veined; ‘The President’, deep violet-blue.

Patens ‘Lasurstern’, large-flowered, deep blue; ‘Vyvyan PennelP, deep violet-blue, usually double.

Florida ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’? white, double.

Jackmanii ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’, a soft satiny pink; ‘Jackmanii Superba’, deep purple-blue, the best known form.

Viticella ‘Ernest Markham’, red; ‘Ville de Lyon’, crimson.

Clematis montana: Height to 12 cm; small white or pink flowers in late spring and early summer. Very strong and vigorous.

Clematis vitalba: old man’s beard, traveller’s joy: Height to 10 m; small white flowers in summer months, followed by attractive berries and feathery filaments. Clematis viticella: Height to 3 m, pink-violet flowers in mid to late summer. Various cultivars, some with double flowers.

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