RSVP Plant Revisit

This time last year we had a great long discussion (possibly the longest in the history of The Gardenist) about companion planting for colchicums (check it out here).  The point was that they can look at bit lonely on their own – all dressed up and no one to go with…


There were some great suggestions, none of which I got around to trying.  But meanwhile, as I plotted and planned, nature was at work, and a nearby Convovulus sabatius silently invaded the home of the colchicums, with a determination that couldn’t be matched by any other plant given the total lack of any supplementary watering.  I admit I’d planted it quite deliberately back in the bare-soil days, (you can see it here, bottom right) but didn’t have any confidence in it being a suitable colour for the colchicum.  I thought it’d be too close in colour to make for the complimentary companion, but not close enough for a colour match.

Given all that, I’ve got to say that I’m enjoying the result.  There were certainly better things offered in last years discussion – some of which I will (eventually) try out – but given the lack of thought and care that went into achieving what’s there now, I’m not at all unhappy.  A little more water would have seen a lot more flower on the Convolvulus, but I simply didn’t have more water.

The combination makes me smile, which is surely the ultimate test, and effectively horticulturalises that famous John Lennon quote to something like “Sometimes the best of what your garden dishes up is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.


  1. Simply, perfectly lovely, Michael.. I could (and well may) gaze at the bottom photo for a very long while.. And I love the cheeky little bloom at the right of the top photo, saying “should we..?Yeah, let’s go..! “

    1. One day I’m going to attempt to count the number of pictures that – like you – I’d just sit and gaze at for a long time, and that therefore (no doubt) framed the way I garden. Funny to think that a pic of mine might – some day – have a similar influence on someone else.

  2. Nice little analagous triad there. The green being the third hue and probably the one holding it together… Lovely.

    1. Better still, I’m thinking, if someone came up with a form of convolvulus with purple-suffused foliage

  3. I really like this and I am always curious about how to use Colchicums in the garden, so thank you!. I bought some Colchicums last year and this year, well, I brought the bulbs from my potting shed to my back verandah to remind me to plant them. Being time poor, I haven’t got around to planting them yet, so they are presenting a lovely display for me on my back verandah in a dry soil-less pot, just like a pot of flowering tulips only with out the care factor. They are amazing aren’t they!

    1. Yeah, they’re tricky to place. I planted some in rough grass in a garden twenty years ago, and was delighted when I visited the other day to see them flowering. They’re also great in gravel gardens, where there’s no such thing as bare soil

  4. Just watch C. sabatius. I’m not saying any more mind you. Just watch it.

    1. Frost does a nice job of keeping mine in check Fiona. But can’t you just hack it back to stumps every time it looks like it’s realising it’s dream of world dominance?

    2. Mmm. Hmm. It’s a furtive plant.

  5. I don’t know if you have had these suggestions but how about a striking contrast with Ophiopogon planicapus ‘Nigrescens’or even the green would give a subtle effect,for a rich warm autumnal look Uncinia rubra if it is not classed as an invasive !!

    1. I love both of those suggestions, Lesley. The black mondo in particular. But how do you reckon they’d go coping with the the competition from the big, floppy, sea-weed-like foliage of the colchicum over late winter?. I guess what we need to sort out is which colchicums have the least dominant, aggressive foliage… For that we need Marcus Harvey in on the discussion.

  6. Who would have thought that a near but not really colour match would look so good. Perhaps it’s because compatibility or similarity of tone/colour intensity is as important or maybe more so than the hue?

    1. I reckon that is exactly what’s going on, Catherine. There’s a near match both in value and saturation – approx same degree of ‘pastelness’ that makes it work. It’s high on comfort, low on challenge. Ideally I’d have a little more of the latter, but I’m happy to sit with this until I get around to something that makes me laugh, or grimace as it teeters on the outer edge of acceptable taste.

    2. Well written article.

  7. I’ve been looking for something other than daffs to put in an area I’m keeping just pure Wallaby Grass which is slender and shallow rooted so the colchicums should compete okay.Thanks you’ve just inspired me with the answer. And they’ll flower in autumn!

  8. I like this flower pic so much and the purple colour is my favorite,thank you

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