Crocosmia strike back

I may have won the first round battle with the Crocosmia in the front garden, but the back garden clumps put up far more of a fight.  My hand fork snapped completely in half and my trowel bent like a spoon.  That is a high tool casualty rate!  Not only that but having to grub the corms out with my bare hands has left an entire ecosystem  of permadirt under my nails.

But – I lifted almost a whole trug of corms, great big monstrous things some of them:

Lifting corms

A broken hand fork and a bent long trowel - I think the Crocosmia won the return fight

The sunnier, moist borders were where the biggest corms and clusters of corms were to be found.  In the drier borders the corms had fragmented into small bublets.  And the damp shady border the corms had gone deep and made chains but had not grown to the fig size of the ones shown above.

If I’d know how rampant the Crocosmia Lucifer would become, I probably would not have sprinkled them around so liberally. (Though for a few weeks in summer they are worth it).  The other varieties have not been so thuggish and so have been allowed to live another day.

Despite my trugful of corms – I fear I may not even have dented the zeal of the monster lifeform that is the Crocosmia.

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…