Burnett: Plant breeders serach for longer blooming plants

Gardening columnist Don Burnett talks about options for fall planting.

Lilac flower in bloom.

Lilacs in September? You bet!

I planted a ‘Bloomerang’ lilac last year and inadvertently pruned it back this spring.

Of course it only bloomed a little bit at the base however it is now showing off quite nicely.

Next year I will leave it alone and enjoy the first blossoms then when they are done I will prune it back by a third and it will give me a great show in the fall.

The plant breeders are working hard developing plants that bloom longer or bloom a second or third time in a season. There are repeat blooming Bearded Iris available for instance, a plant unheard of 20 years ago.

Several new varieties of perennials such as Day Lilies, Salvia, Rudbeckia and Gailardia will reliably bloom again if they are cut back after the first blossoming has finished. Its fun to watch my miniature rose bed bloom again and again through the summer and now with the cooler fall weather these little babies seem to think it is June again.

Too bad it isn’t because most of them are in perfect shape to enter in the flower show held at Guisachan each year in June. Donna loves to use them as cut flowers in her miniature vase arrangements. Fall colour includes plants that traditionally come at this time of year and only this time of year.

Colchicum, often called Fall Crocus, are now beginning to poke through the ground and can put on an awesome show if in masse lasting a month or more. We spotted a single blossom of a double Colchicum during our walkabout with the Master Gardeners students on Saturday; I can’t wait until the cluster becomes larger over the next few years.

Perhaps not as showy but very cool in its own rite is the true fall crocus; Crocus sativus, or Saffron Crocus. This plant looks more like a spring flowering crocus yet it blooms in fall. This special plant has been studied for years and this is still going on as the medical and psychology sectors are finding uses for helping their patients.

The Saffron, which is harvested from the stamen of the flowers, is very costly to buy as it takes many thousands of blossoms to make a very small amount. If you are now pining for some colour in the garden and you have none of the aforementioned, I suggest you check out the local garden shops where you will find some instant colour in the form of Fall Mums, Fall Asters and beautiful flowering Kale and Cabbage.

Many of you are aware of the trip I hosted in May to the Chelsea Flower Show in London England which was a thrilling experience for all involved.

We visited several world renowned show and botanical gardens including Kew, Wisely and Saville; toured key attractions like the Tower of London, Hampton Court and St. Andrews and spent a full day at the Chelsea Flower Show.

We are all still thinking about the wonderful time we had so I am planning on another next May.

We are still tweaking the itinerary however soon I will be hosting some information sessions once we have it put together. If any of you wish to be on the list to be informed when these sessions are, just email me   don@thegardenexpert.com