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August 13, 2013     Cape Gazette
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August 13, 2013

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Cape Gazette GARDEN & FARM TUESDAY, AUGUST 13- THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2013 19 4 .i II In life, as in gardens, a little controversy can help. Take the Canadian band that was asked to perform for the 1991 New Year's Eve concert outside Toronto City Hall when at the last moment a staffer for then- Mayor June Rowlands felt the band's name objectified women and banned the band. The public was outraged - not at the band's name - but at what was seen as political cor- rectness gone too far. Predict- ably, the band's sales skyrock- eted and the world of music has been richer for the band, Barenaked Ladies. Nothing gets a gardener's. attention like bare naked ladies. Plant them now and this fall you can have "naked ladies" bloom right in your garden. They are called naked ladies because the "naked" vase- shaped blooms of Colchicums spring up unannounced and glow among the drabber colors chicums prefer well-drained, of autumn. The leaves pop up slightly acidic soil with a pH 6.0 in spring and die back like daf- to 6.5. In early spring the corms fodils, will send up big, pleated leaves Colchicum The Giant is a that are beautiful in their own large rose-lilac flower with a right. The leaves die down by white base. The Giant blooms July. Let the leaves die natu- over a long period with eight- rally, as they are storing energy inch-tall, vase-shaped blooms, for fall blooms. Waterlily Colchicum has lav- " After a few years, if your ender-pink double blooms that clumps of flowers get crowded, resemble water lilies floating in you can dig them up and sepa- your lawn. Waterlily grows just rate them. Luckily the corms six inches tall. are very easy to divide. They Colchicum Speciosum is a produce tiny babies or "offsets" five-inch-tall darker rose-violet quickly, so each one will grow flower that is often four inches into a cluster of seven or eight or more across. This species is within a few years. a vigorous grower that spreads The bulbs grow much deeper quickly, than you might expect, so The all-white Colchicum dig deep enough to gently lift Speciosum Album blooms solid the entire clump out. Pull the white for a striking contrast clump apart with your fmgers against green grass or conifer and immediately replant the trees, corms a good six inches deep. Colchicum bulbs are techni- The best time to divide corms is cally corms, because they have early summer when the leaves an underground stem base, but are yellowing. most gardeners call them bulbs Colchicums (Colchicum because that's what they look autumnale) contain colchicine, like. Planted in August or early a poisonous substance that can September, the corms will settle be toxic to grazing livestock. in and burst into bloom within Colchicine is used to treat gout. two months. Luckily, most household pets Plant Colchicums in front of leave them alone. Always wear evergreens or shrubs, tuck them gloves when handling any bulbs among perennials, and even to avoid rashes or allergies. spread some in the grass. Col- You can cut the delicate blossoms for floral bouquets without harming the plants. And you don't even have to plant the corms to bloom. Just place them on a sunny window- sill and they will bloom. Like all forced bulbs, letting them bloom without planting weak- ens the corms, and you may need to toss the windowsill wonders after they bloom. Colchicums are available for a brief time from mall-order nurseries such as I.W. Jung Seed Company, 335 S. High St Randolph, W153956 (800-297- 3123), online at www. iungseed. com; or from White Flower Farm, P.O. Box 50, Route 63, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759 (800-503-9624), online at www. Order now, plant soon, and your garden will enjoy what Canada has enjoyed for years: bare naked ladies. As for the group Barenaked Ladies? They are now best known for singing the theme song to television's "Big Bang Theory." And that is the naked truth. MATERS MATTER AT HISTORIC LEWES FARMERS MARKET HISTORIC LEWES FARMERS MARKET volunteers Pam Sorce, left, and during the market's seventh annual Tomato Festival, Mater Madness. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS Cathy Stube put out tomato samples Aug. 10 Market-goers stop to taste tomatoes during another busy day at the market. Market volunteer Kathy Bagden ex- plains that striped cavern tomatoes are perfect for stuffing. Delaware Secretary of Agriculture cherry tomatoes in a jar. Ed Kee takes a guess at the number of