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Crocosmia - There is life beyond 'Lucifer'

Who knew there was more than 'Lucifer' when it came to these familiar plants? Or are they familiar at all? It turns out that like so many things, once you start digging in to them, it seems like you have barely scratched the surface. The RHS Plant Finder currently lists over 300 cultivars available in the UK and here we felt like we were doing pretty good with over 100!

For whatever reason, Crocosmia has captured our fancy and we are going to spread the love. For an African genus of just 8 species and from a breeding pool of about half that, this genus has spawned some amazing hybrids over the last 100+ years. Most of the work has come from England and Ireland with significant early work from France but lately some nice US selections are making their presence known. We've been doing some breeding ourselves and this summer saw our first double but those chickens won't be counted until it remains double for a few more years.

Naysayers might say what do you need other than than the yellow one, the orange one and the red one? Look no further than the onslaught of Hosta cultivars going for crazy sums for our answer as there are significant differences in flower shape, time of flowering, foliage and vigor. Our trial beds were ablaze this August and September and visiting them was at your own peril as the Hummingbird turf wars put the historical differences of opinion between the Crips and Bloods to shame. Picking our favorite changed daily with the angle of the sun, how much time we had to devote to unfettered admiration and to what degree each insinuated and elevated our mood.

Having a bad day? Forget the pills and do what we do and take a walk through dozens of clumps of Crocosmia in flower and when your are done you know you have witnessed something spectacular that nobody you know has done not to mention spectating a psychedelic Lilliputian Avian Royal Joust. Lord and Lady of Hummers and Keepers of Something Pretty Cool. To be able to rule for two months on the floriade of Crocosmias is pretty cool. Fortunately the other 10 months have Corydalis, Trilliums, Polygonatum, Lilium and catalogs.

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Crocosmia 'Castle Ward Late' Crocosmia 'Castle Ward Late'

One of the truly elegant cultivars and one that will be the toast of the garden.  Tall stems with fingers of flowers heldout like a ladies hand extended to be kissed.  Refined petals nicely spaced reeks of breeding and affluence yet is always up to knocking back a cold brew ot two.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Debutante' Crocosmia 'Debutante'

As neither of us were lucky enough to be debutantes ourselves, growing this 'Debutante' is ample solace. The flowers are small but tend to face upwards opening orange but fading rapidly to a soft pink in the interior which is accented by a yellow eye while the exterior retains a deeper orange-red coloring. To 30" of tidy habit with conservative values until it blooms

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Dixter Flame' Crocosmia 'Dixter Flame'

A nice smaller selection from Great Dixter which distinguishes itself from the pack by a shorter habit and flower stems held rather laterally so the blaze of red-orange flowers are displayed on the horizontal making it perfect for viewing from above.  Plus it carries that Dixter mystique.

Price: $20.00
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Crocosmia 'Golden Ballerina' Crocosmia 'Golden Ballerina'

Plant breeder Ken Ridgely did us all a solid when he introduced this incredibly graceful and aptly named Crocosmia.  Tall lithesome stems to 4' hold golden orange flowers with poise and aplomb and whose long narrow petals show the great line extension inherent to ballet with the pointing of toes implied.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Golden Fleece' Crocosmia 'Golden Fleece'

This has yellow flowers as clean and pure as butter churned by hand by a virtuous and chaste milkmaid on a farm set in the Alps where the cows while away the summer days grazing in meadows alight with wildflowers and the unhurried soft clank of an unseen cowbell becomes music impossible to improve upon.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Goldfinch' Crocosmia 'Goldfinch'

This is not commonly grown and only a handful of nurseries in the UK offer this 1918 George Henley introduction and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the US. Small flowers touched red on the outside of the tepals and fusing into yellow on the inside presenting a very pleasing two-toned effect.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Hellfire' Crocosmia 'Hellfire'

If this is what you get for sinning then I can hardly wait!  New selection from the UK that has to be Lucifer's love child.  This is much better than that old devil with dark sooty stems holding deeper blood red flowers with a wider flared corolla. So bad it's good.  Burn, baby burn!

Price: $20.00
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Crocosmia 'Highlight' Crocosmia 'Highlight'

A 1998 introduction from the UK with handsome pale orange flowers lit up by some yellow in the centers.  This is by no means available in the US except from maybe one nursery, now give me a minute and I'll come up with the name……wait - it's us of course!  I've got to quit multi-tasking.  All of the studies show this is exactly what happens.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'His Majesty' Crocosmia 'His Majesty'

Aptly named, a Crocosmia of truly majestic proportions and grandeur of flower.  Arguably the finest large-flowered cultivar in the world, this indeed has the largest flowers among the 150 or so varieties we grow,  Wide open rich orange yellow faces with dark red-orange backs on 40" stems.  It rules.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Irish Flame' Crocosmia 'Irish Flame'

One of our favorites (in the top 50!) for a couple of reasons.  We like the visual heft of the foliage as it nicely broad and stout.  We also like that it is not an aggressive spreader although it means we don't offer it often.  Mostly we like the substantial and dense sprays of flame red open flowers.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Jackanapes' Crocosmia 'Jackanapes'

The enigmatic iconoclast Pete Ray of Puget Garden Resources, brought this perky selection back from the UK.  Smaller than most varieties both in height and flower size, this has that cheeky something that the others would give their right anther for.  Flowers are a perfect bicolored symmetry of red and yellow on stems to 2 feet or so.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Jenny Bloom' Crocosmia 'Jenny Bloom'

We got tired of folks asking for Jenny after seeing her in our border so being saavy entrepeneurs we potted some up.  This is a dandy Crocosmia of smaller habit with tasty flowers of butterscotch infused yellow.  Not a piercing yellow but of a gentle hue.  Jenny has class after all.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Kiatschou' Crocosmia 'Kiatschou'

One of the better of the clear yellow hybrids with nicely presented flowers that while of good size are not so overly large that they bow down the stems.  We've come to like the clean yellows as they bring something refreshingly uncomplicated to the garden bed and the fewer issues in bed, the better.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Krakatoa' Crocosmia 'Krakatoa'

Unlike the cataclysmic explosion, this provides a sustained display of fiery color . It has made a very satisfying clump in our full afternoon sun display beds outside our shade garden and we have been promising to pot some of this up for 3 years now and Voila! - we finally did this winter. Of medium height with arching stems seeming perfectly distributed in the clump.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Lana de Savary' Crocosmia 'Lana de Savary'

A refined selection with rich bright red flowers and named in 1993 by Cornwall gardener John Hogan for Lana de Savary.  We can't fault the name as a cursory google search reveals that the socialite Lana de Savary is not only red-haired but apparently both bright and ungodly rich.  We have more cool plants than her though.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Miss Scarlet' Crocosmia 'Miss Scarlet' PPAF

We believe Rhett, this Crocosmia is no lady.  Really, are you looking for some refined creature when you buy a Crocosmia?  I think not - it's hussies, hotties, tramps and trollops that get's it done in the garden.  This has big heads of bright red flowers more flared than Lucifer.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Nimbus' Crocosmia 'Nimbus'

One of our favorites - and we know you have seen this on other Crocosmia descriptions here - but it is even more true with this one!  Not to say the others are less favored, mind you.  Large, wide open orange-yellow flowers with a vivid dark orange ring in the center surrounding a slightly paler throat.  Well-displayed to nearly 3' tall.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Okavango' Crocosmia 'Okavango'

From the breeding work of Bob Brown comes this crazy good plant. On very stout stems, the big flowers with broad rounded tepals are bunched together in nice fat heads and the flowers are a melange of peachy apricoty pink hues. One of the very best of the recent introductions.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Paul's Best Yellow' Crocosmia 'Paul's Best Yellow'

This is an awesome plant with very large flowers of excellent substance clustered in dense heads which compounds the visual impact. Tall stems to 40" just to make sure you won't miss seeing this in bloom. A good even rich yellow that is not brightly strident but very capable of mingling with other colors or carrying the display load on its own.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Phillipa Browne' Crocosmia 'Phillipa Browne'

Nice red-orange flowers really puts on a show later in August which comes at a time when some of the other reddish varieties have finished flowering.  Named for Phillipa Browne who is a Crocosmia hybridizer in the UK.  We want to think she didn't name this after herself and that a fellow nurseryman chose to honor her work in this way.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia 'Severn Sunrise' Crocosmia 'Severn Sunrise'

Award of Garden Merit recipient in the UK where gardening is just not a pleasant diversion but a way of life.  A flower color of soft tomato with infusions of orange and red on a good mid-sized flower.  This is not a shy bloomer and not a runner so blooms heavy in dense clumps.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Solfatare' Crocosmia 'Solfatare'

A top-flight cultivar. compact in stature with apricot-tinged yellow flowers which are far from strident and olive-green foliage.  These are divisions from plants brought from England many years ago and are not tissue-cultured and so don't have the little deviations from what is near perfection.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Spitfire' Crocosmia 'Spitfire'

This is an Alan Bloom selection from Bressingham Gardens which he introduced in 1970.  'Spitfire' is a feisty little plant making a dense clump of thin leaves with flared open fiery red-orange flowers held closely together in which the many presents as one to great effect.  A smaller mounding plant than some of its kin.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Star of the East' Crocosmia 'Star of the East'

This exceptionally large flowered selection is going to be a star in any sunny garden where it's unrivaled flower size leaves most other Crocosmias wishing they hadn't been mired in ethical dilemmas and just gone ahead and done the testosterone injections.

Price: $15.00
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Crocosmia 'Voyager' Crocosmia 'Voyager'

Big cheerful yellow flowers which open widely on stems to nearly 30" tall are the reason for growing this selection.  This can help make some of the late season fiery colors seem even more intense by comparison or if asked to carry the floral load on its own, it is more than up to the task,.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Vulcan' Crocosmia 'Vulcan'

This UK selection has good ripe tomato red flowers arrayed nicely on the stem and held out horizonatally to optimize viewing. Very accommodating those Brits. The flowers are nicely ranked with some overlap which creates a showy floral synergistic effect. This is a compact grower to just a couple feet tall.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia 'Walberton Yellow' ('Walcroy') Crocosmia 'Walberton Yellow' ('Walcroy') COPF

Everything good about this yellow hybrid from David Tristan in the UK.  Densely clumping and quite respectful of it's space without the imperialistic proclivities of some it's Borg-like relatives.  Flowers a rich clear yellow with a good open flared aspect and rounded petals of distinct substance.

Price: $12.00
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Crocosmia 'Zambesi' Crocosmia 'Zambesi'

A very fine cultivar with large flowers held appealingly over an especially long period. The wide open mid-orange flowers have a darker orange central stripe running down each petal which tends to grab the eye and hold it.  It is always fun to watch folks cruise the Crocosmia at a steady pace only to be brought up short by Zambesi.

Price: $18.00
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Crocosmia aurea Crocosmia aurea

The oldest cultivated species (I think) dating back to the mid-1800's and due to it's very wide distribution as a woodland plant throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa such as the Congo and on down to South Africa.  Crocosmia as woodland shade plants muddles my preconceptions but expands my planting areas.  Nice pendant yellow-orange flowers.

Price: $16.00
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Crocosmia paniculata Crocosmia paniculata

An exceptional plant from Ellen Hornig of Seneca Hills Nursery via South Africa where it is a "Victorian pass-along plant". Apparently this has been shared among gardeners there for many years! Here it is fairly epic getting nearly 4 feet tall with narrow tubular reddish flowers arrayed on the splayed floral hands.

Price: $18.00
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