An explosion of lilac and white has brightened summer-burnt patches in the garden. Colchicum byzantinum is the tallest species with showy goblets erupting from dry soil, about a week after Colchicum cilicium began (see last post). These bulbs were planted a decade ago or more and reliably each autumn they give me joy. I’d love to plant cranesbills above them – low, gorgeous groundcovers – but this is an area far from the hose – even one connected to dam water tanks. I’ve been resistant to planting tough groundcovers here (common ones, anyway), where the mulch is pretty unimpressive most of the year beneath old tree paeonies. Reliably good drainage, at least, means I can plan drought-tolerant plants that won’t wilt in the wet years and the ones that spring first to mind are some of the different thymes: silver, lemon, common – but not, I think, the flat carpeting ones, which – for me – are too great a contrast to the large leaves of the Colchicum which will come up after those flamboyant flowers.
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, (www.jillweatherhead.com.au)