October 21, 2011

A Crocus, A Chicken, and Kinnikinnik

The autumn crocuses have emerged from their summer naps.  I have one that is simply called Colchicm speciosum 'Album', or 'White' fall crocus.  It is a pure white, and I love how the tiny blooms pop up from under the deep green mat of kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).

That was something of an inspiration on my part.  I tucked the bulbs in under the woody stems of the groundcover kinnnikinnik and it works to hide the wimpy crocus foliage, especially as it fades. The tangle of woody stems holds the nodding crocus blooms more upright; on their own the weak stemmed crocuses tend to swoon and fall over. 

The contrast of the white crocus bloom and glossy green kinnikinnik foliage is the perfect combination.  Someone will surely ask me how I get my kinnikinnik to flower in the fall, since it looks like it is the groundcover that is blooming.

I need to move some of the crocuses to spread out more in the green mat.  Here a lone crocus chases a fleeing chicken. 

(They are the easiest chickens to care for, but they are afraid of their own shadows most of the time, and bugs and flowers terrorize them.  I move them about the garden frequently to ease their anxiety.)

Here a bee tumbles upside down inside a crocus to get at what he wants.

Colchicums only last a short time.  They are nowhere to be seen all spring or summer, and when they come up in the fall, it's just for a brief show, easy to miss.

But with their pure white faces looking up from their bed of green kinnikinnik I notice them as soon as they open.

Nice.

I just wish the chickens appreciated them.

22 comments:

  1. The Crocus and Kinikinnik do make a fabulous pair. They compliment each other nicely. Very clever of you. Those are some very anxious chickens if they're afraid of their own shadow.

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  2. As Bernie said, very clever of you. But that word kinnikinnik is amusing, is that really a common name for that plant? Hi i am new here.

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  3. You should hope that your chickens don't start eating them. Maybe that is why you think the blooms don't last long. The chickens eat them when you aren't looking. This combination of plants is great.

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  4. Fabulous combination! Is the kinnikinnik a boxwood? And so nice that the bees like the crocuses too -- so little for them at the end of the season. We saw these at Chanticleer Gardens in PA one September -- I hadn't known there was such a thing.

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  5. Bernie, Thanks. They are anxious chickens but very quiet : )

    Andrea, Welcome! I did a post on kinnikinnik that you can read to find out more about this spreading groundcover. I love it.
    http://laurries.blogspot.com/2010/11/kinnikinnik.html

    Lisa, Ha! I never thought about the chickens eating the crocuses : ) but I do know the voles go after the tiny bulbs -- which is why I have so few popping up this year

    Tricia, the kinnikinnik is actually arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Not a boxwood, although the green leaves look similar. It has another common name of bearberry. You can see more of it in my older post here: http://laurries.blogspot.com/2010/11/kinnikinnik.html

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  6. The chickens are cute pecking away in the bed. I lose all my crocus because of the squirrels and they end up looking like yours. Here and there.

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  7. GREAT idea, Laurrie - genius, in fact. Now I'm looking around for a groundcover to do the same sort of thing. And those chickens are fabulous.

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  8. So cute, Laurrie!
    Our days have been sunny and warm, yours must be, too? To have a bee out like that, they are celebrating the warmth!

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  9. I would be one of those people asking you how you got your kinnikinnik to bloom:) This is a clever combination, Laurrie. Your chickens may be not take care of insect pests, but I would imagine they don't take much chicken feed either.

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  10. Donna, The crocus bulbs are a real temptation to digging critters and voles. I hope to keep the few I still have.

    Lyn, It's nice to be called a genius in the garden : )

    Sissy, I wish we had some warmth, but it's been cool and cloudy most days. I'm just happy the rain stopped for a little bit.

    Rose, The chickens take no feeding at all. They live on the porch all winter so they won't rust too much. They're great pets.

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  11. Kinnikinnik? I want to grow that just so I have an excuse to say its name! Excellent idea to combine the two. I combine my daffs with my daylilies to help hide the daff foliage. Those chickens are the only kind allowed in my neighborhood. I bet they're cheap to feed. :o)

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  12. I had no idea kinnikinnik grew on this coast. I thought it was just a west coast plant. Great to hear as it looks like it provides some really nice greenery in your garden. Good thing the chickens are so sketchy, don't want them eating your lovely blooms!

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  13. Tammy, That was my original reason for buying kinnikinnik --- I loved saying the name!

    Marguerite, I was surprised to find kinnikinnik here and it does grow well. This variety is even called 'Massachusetts', obviously bred for our east coast conditions.

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  14. Kudos to you for planning a combination that works ~ I know that can be difficult to accomplish! LOL But then your garden is full of planned combinations that work beautifully. I like your chickens. Low maintenance.

    When we went to the fair last week we looked at the chickens and a tiny little banty rooster crowed practically in my face. It was so funny because it was such a tiny little crow.

    I'm with Casa, kinnikinnik would be worth growing just for the name! Besides having a neat name it looks like a really nice groundcover.

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  15. Sweetbay, You didn't bring any roosters home from the fair? Everyone enjoys the name of the kinnikinnik groundcover --- it's also known as bearberry. Gotta love it.

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  16. NOt only is this a plant combination that works, but it works cleverly, to boot. Great idea.
    I tried kinnikinnik many years back. It didn't thrive but I may have planted it in the wrong spot. Your's looks lovely.

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  17. What a good idea to pair Kinnikinnik with colchicums and what a pretty picture they make. Neither are hardy in my garden unfortunately.

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  18. Oh how I love autumn crocuses and you have used them so well through the woody groundcover. I also love to see them sprinkled through hardy plumbago.
    It's funny I have the same chicken set. I made spikes out of heavy wire to stabilize mine,

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  19. Joene, others have said that kinnikinnik is hard to grow, and wants perfectly dry, infertile conditions, like heather. But mine just spread all over, no fuss.

    Melanie, Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is hardy to zone 3, so you could definitely grow it.

    Patrick, the colchicums would work well under any taller ground cover I think. My chickens are wobbly and could use some stabilizer spikes!

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  20. Laurrie- Thanks for the info. I'm now on a quest to find it.

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  21. You were inspired! I've never planted Colchicum because I hate their wimpy pale stems. So smart to mix them in with a groundcover.

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  22. Laurrie, I have never seen kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)before. What a nice looking groundcover!

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