Lifting Crocosmia is backbreaking stuff

Crocosmia were one of the first plants to grab my attention when I moved to Scotland – I simply hadn’t really encountered them before.  I love their fabulous colours and the shape of the flower that beckons out to you.  So even before I had made a start on creating the back garden, I had planted a clump into the front.

That clump was given to me by a neighbour (I was far too new to gardening to beware of neighbours offering clumps of those things merrily rampaging through their own gardens!). I think it must have been there 8 years and though I have previously engaged in some minor skirmishes with it, it has been invading its way through the garden with unstoppable, but beautiful, vigour.

Crocosmia Lucifer and bee

Crocosmia Lucifer - a beautiful thug with world domination on its mind

But today I snuck off work 40 minutes early and went outside to wage all out war.  It was me or the Crocosmia – only one of us could triumph.

I won – I think – but not without sustaining some battle wounds and general aches.

I was tackling a patch about 1.5 metres long and half a metre wide.  Crocosmia’s are corms and they grow in what TV gardeners describe as threads or chains.  Sounds so delicate. Well mine must be on steroids because they were more like potatoes on kebab sticks.  Rock hard potatoes on very rigid kebab sticks.  Or clumps of fossilized dinosaur droppings from prehistoric times.  But not delicate chains…

Now I watched Carol Klein do this on TV just a few weeks back (I watched closely knowing I needed to divide my own Crocosmia soon). And she just seems to whisk them out of the ground with no trouble at all.  Yet everytime I have tried, I just manage to pull the tops off, or if I’m lucky the tops and a tiny corm or two.

So they’ve been getting denser and denser and the flowering poorer.

But this evening I went outside armed for battle – trowels in three sizes, from tiny, normal sized and normal sized with a big long handle.  I took a little fork.  A big fork. A pruning saw.  And the phone in case any clients rang. Victory would surely be mine.

I made a mess of the first few – just pulling of the fibrous tops as usual.  I namby-pambied around with the little fork and trowel, which would barely go into the ground, so densely were the corms packed.  Then I managed to bend my long handled fork attempting to get that into the ground.  I love that fork, this is not the way to make me happy.

In the end, I had to forget delicacy and the other plants I was trying to protect and get out the big, serious fork.  Even this was back-breaking stuff and more than once I nearly fell on my face in full view of the street.

But I was able to lift up an astonishing amount of corms and nothing I have seen on TV or read prepared me for the size of these things.  One single plant had corm clusters the size of a football, with the biggest of those corms the size of a large plum or medium potato.

No wonder my other plants were suffering with those things eating for Scotland.  I have no idea if other people’s Crocosmia put up such heroic fights, but mine have definitely been drinking their Irn Bru.

So that’s the tiny patch at the front tackled.  Just the other 10 clumps at the back to do now…

4 thoughts on “Lifting Crocosmia is backbreaking stuff

  1. Pingback: Crocosmia strike back | The Wistful Gardener

  2. Pingback: Garden Blogs of the Month: February 2012 « Jean's Garden

  3. I have the NCCPG National Collection of Crocosmia……………. I have around 300 varieties of Crocosmia.. I must say that Lucifer is one of the best behaved plants I have. There really is just one thug and that is crocosmia x crocosmiiflora or as its known ‘that orange one!!!!’
    That one WILL take over the world given the chance……… my advise: NEVER plant it, unless you have LOTS of room.
    Getting back to Lucifer…. I have had a clump in my garden for over 22 years and it doesnt spread anywhere muc, its a damn good clumper!!
    But then, what do i know, I only have the only national collection!!!

    • Thanks for the comment Mark, great to hear your expert view. Its definitely Lucifer rampaging its way down my street. Maybe its the moist, acid, peaty soil here in the Highlands. I know they have mentioned the same problem at BBC Garden over in Aberdeen, I heard presenter Jim Macoll talking about it. I do have a number of lovely tame Crocosmia varieties which are beautiful – a lovely lemon and bronze one and a well behaved apricot one, Emily Mortimer (or is it Mackenzie) also – but right here in these conditions Lucifer is a big pest for me, its probably the most rampant plant I own! Fortunately, I don’t own the orange one, but I have seen it over on the west coast of the Highlands in its swathes – Lucifer is far more attractive I think, it is just the size and density of the corms strings that are overwhelming!

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