HELEN LANG: Winter still a long way off

In a couple of weeks I think I’ll put the bulbs I’ve saved from last year in a bowl of water to get them thinking about making new roots

Schizostylis coccinea! You do speak Russian, don’t you? Well, to be honest, neither do I.

This is actually the botanical name for a lovely gladiola-like flower that blooms late in the year (October and November).

The first time I ran across it, it was planted in small clusters around the edges of a bed right in front of the cancer clinic at the Jubilee hospital.

I had never seen it before, but went searching and found the rhizomes available at a nursery the following spring.

It is a heartening feeling when everything seems to be either dying or dead, to see these lovely blooms appear.

Do you recall a song called September? It started off “The leaves of brown, came tumbling down, remember, that September, in the rain.”

That tune is warbling away in my head right now.

My mother used to play it on the piano, and I guess we are in for it all too soon.

But what a summer we have had, haven’t we? And the leaves will turn red or yellow before they turn brown and they are lovely when they do.

So lets enjoy them as they go into fall mode and not worry about the changing season and what may be in store in the not-too-distant future.

The balcony is a pretty sad affair right now. Forlorn lily stalks with shrivelled blossoms still clinging to withering stems — it’s enough to make a fella’ cry.

It will soon be time to buy and plant bulbs.

In a couple of weeks I think I’ll put the bulbs I’ve saved from last year in a bowl of water to get them thinking about making new roots during  the winter.

Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to mention that word for at least another couple of months.

Not to worry, it’s still more than 20 degrees every afternoon, so relax, the wintery months are still a long way off.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.