I love Crocosmias – the big red variety called Lucifer lights up our garden in July, continuing to glow in the gloom when dusk falls and all the blues and greens fade to grey.
Lucifer is an early-flowering Crocosmia and mine is nearing its end now, but there are other varieties still in full bloom throughout August.
These plants have long sword-shaped leaves and arching spikes of funnel shaped flowers that mature from the bottom up so that some have died before the ones at the top of the spike bloom.
These flowers, which grow from corms, come originally from South Africa but are pretty hardy in the UK.
I have a bit of an aversion to calling them Crocosmias and I still like to call the smaller, orange version Montbretia, the name I knew it by as a child, when it grew against our cottage wall.
The Montbretia name honours a person. I guessed it was French entomologist Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret (1753-1825) – although my Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary says it was named after a botanist of the same name who lived only from 1780 to 1801.
I have written elsewhere about flowers named after people.
The Montbretia/Crocosmia has also in the past been classified as a Tritonia.
The “new” name Crocosmia comes from the Greek words krokos, meaning “saffron”, and osme, meaning “smell”.
I read on Wikipedia that in America these flowers are commonly known as coppertips or falling stars.
I have seen the common orange Montbretia growing like a weed in the hedgerows of West Cork, along with wonderful Fuchsia magellanica, another adopted alien.
I think these, along with the small Montbretia in my childhood garden, are probably Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora.
Funnily enough, a few days after I posted this, I visited Pembrokeshire in West Wales, and found there are quite a few Fuchsias and Montbretias growing wild in hedgerows there, too. I didn’t snap any of those, but here are some at a chapel in St David’s…
See some more of my flower pictures here…