Crocosmia: the movie

In the spring I bought a couple pots of crocosmia, which I gather is also called montbretia, and what the two words share is that I can’t pronounce or consistently spell either one of them.

I grew this plant years ago and I guess I killed it–it’s been missing for a while–so I decided to try again.

croscosmia in bloom

I like the sharp verticality of the pointy leaves and the way they sort of suggest a pond even though I don’t have a pond.

The variety of this crocosmia is “Orange Lucifer” and let me just add that the Lucifer part has nothing to do with the character of my garden or myself.

crocosmia I’ve read that crocosmia plants are native to South Africa and also that some gardeners find them to be invasive–having already killed it once, I have no fear about this. But the fact remains that I accidentally planted it with that dark red geranium which I impulsively purchased (just one) because I do love the color.

red geraniumWhen I planted the geranium the crocosmia plants were just leaves, and I had this idea that they bloomed late, like maybe the end of August, and that the geranium would be tired or maybe dead by then. But of course that’s not the way it happened.

I know the red and oranges together kind of suggest a need to call the fire department but I am here to confess that I quite like them after all and that just goes to show how our response to color is terribly subjective. But back to the crocosmia.


I’ve heard that it can be likened to gladiolus, which I do not care for, so I reject that comparison. To me it looks exotic and tropical, and I can absolutely testify that hummingbirds love the flowers. I just wish I’d gotten the redder version which I believe is called simply “Lucifer” instead of “Orange Lucifer” but both names have connotations subject to questionable suggestion…

To distract you from this I have made a movie.

I will not go into the details of my excruciating and seemingly endless experimentation with video-editing software. I tried iphone apps including but not limited to Videolicious (vote: no) and Luma (vote: no) and finally imovie for iphone (I used it, so yes–and thank you Colleen for inspiration).

I can say honestly that the first clips I filmed were of a lovely garden experience, early morning, blue sky, and heartfelt, welcoming words from the gardener (me). It felt odd.

Then something happened.

A bird appeared.

I became distracted and eventually a little crazy.  Somehow I stayed with the project. I filmed some more, on a whole different day. The bird came back. This had to be meaningful. Long hours followed–all-night editing sessions, with coffee and cigarettes (not really cigarettes) and dawn to dusk shooting and in the end I created a full-length film: Crocosmia For Lunch, which will be released in theaters in December!

Of course I made certain to provide for you dear reader, with this preview trailer. (No need to thank me now–and after you see it you won’t want to.) It’s only about a minute long so maybe don’t make popcorn although a beer or a shot of something might help quite a lot.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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55 Responses to Crocosmia: the movie

  1. Your movie was FANTASTIC!!!! And I did have a beer but it was before I knew I was going to watch your movie and I’m sure your little film would be entirely wonderful even without the beer! I’ve never made such a fine movie myself and am inspired. I had no idea there was iMovie for iPhone. Really?!

    • linniew says:

      Well that beer was an essential element.
      From what I’ve read, iMovie has much more to offer on an apple computer than in the iPhone app. version. And while my NEXT laptop will be Apple… Still, the phone app can do this fun stuff. But IMO it hardly compares with your chicken video ‘berta.

  2. Lyn says:

    Love the crocosmia, the geranium and the film trailer, especially the music. I have no idea how to do this sort of thing, so I am very very impressed (and I didn’t need alcohol of any sort). Looking forward to the feature film release, and perhaps a sequel – “Guess Who’s Humming for Dinner”?

  3. Tim says:

    Crocosmia is, if you were to compare it with perhaps Celandine, not quite so invasive — more, how shall I put it, a bit of a nuisance. The two have, thoughtfully, combined in my garden! (The thought wasn’t mine by the way.) The upside is however, when I dig out clumps of one, I dig out clumps of the other. The clumps do need to be carefully wrapped in several layers of black plastic and “carefully” disposed of. Looks nice though, the Crocosmia that is! Loved the film by the way. More please…

    • linniew says:

      Not quite so invasive as celandine? This is supposed to comfort me? Now Tim I have read that there are different versions of crocosmia, some more wild and untamed and some sort of domestic and the wild ones are the uncontrollable ones. But you know too there are so many lies… Anyway my understanding of the ‘Lucifer’ types is that they will get bigger but will not for example show up unannounced on the opposite side of the house which as you know that wretched celandine can do with one root tied behind its back so to speak. But I appreciate the warning and I will be vigilant and also I’m so happy you enjoyed my peculiar little movie.

      • Tim says:

        Have you considered that “Disney type” films are now possibly “old hat”. Might I suggest a change of direction for your next presentation. How about a horror/armageddon genre film. Working title …”Celandine: the full horror”. I could send you a “treatment” (I think that is the word used in Hollywood circles).

        • linniew says:

          Oh Tim, I am certain I could benefit from all kinds of “treatment” although I don’t know what might mean in terms of movies. Could it mean you would send me some celandine images to incorporate into the horror movie? A united collaboration against celandine could be quite fun (always essential to whatever I do) and also a kind of noble effort, beneficial to the gardening world, humanity, the planet, possibly the universe!

          • Tim says:

            Believe me … it’s best images of Celandine are kept only for those of a strong constitution. It would certainly mean your film rating an “X certificate” (Do they still rate films that way, I wonder?) Ridding the universe of Celandine … now there’s a thought! Can you get a Nobel prize for gardening? Oh well, back to the “treatment”, it’s much, much too hot to do anything today!!

  4. kininvie says:

    Oh, now that’s clever. Even I can’t find anything to carp about. Except perhaps the lack of hummingbird close-ups…it was a hummingbird, right?
    Crocosmia (stress on 2nd syllable, if you please) doesn’t flower here until August or so, though this year it will be earlier. It escaped from gardens many years ago, and now grows wild in many parts of west Scotland, Wales & Cornwall close to the coast, which is sensible of it because the orange goes rather better with the blue sea than with – say – red geraniums. As you can see here:
    You should get ‘Lucifer’ – the colour is striking.
    BTW, you probably killed the last one through drought….crocosmia does like it damp.

    • linniew says:

      Oh Kininvie, I did try to zoom in on that bird part–as you surely know it was absolutely a hummingbird. Somehow the tools I used never gave me the option of zooming into a movie clip, although I could zoom into still images. Very annoying.

      Crocosmia is grown in gardens in our beach towns, and in planters there by restaurants and in parks. I associate it with the coast and that is one of the reasons I like it. I’m counting on the Lucifers growing larger but not striking out on their own like some of the rampant varieties, but I’ll let you know if this turns out to be poorly placed confidence. That wild looking clump by the sea in your linked image looks awfully like my plants…

      I believe you are correct that drought killed the previous crocosmia. I’ve found that even my bamboo, whose habits are so frightening that it is practically illegal here–even it is slowed to almost no growth without summer water. (This year I am watering it so I will have trellis material again.)

      I noted that remark about the red geranium.

      • kininvie says:

        In exchange for your nearly-hummingbird photograph, here’s one of my laundry line, complete with freshly-washed curtain, just to show that your constant failure to believe what I tell you is misplaced. Since I refuse to contaminate my blog with washing-related posts, I’ve put it on photobucket for you :
        I also added a picture of the fluffy dryas seed heads to my rock garden post (a few back), which I remember you wanted to see…

        • linniew says:

          That was a complete hummingbird movie Kininvie, and should more than suffice.

          I went to your photo albums and I must say I enjoyed the snow images, so nice since it’s rather warm here today, and I loved the chickens too but I couldn’t find the dryas seeds so you might have to send me a direct link to them?

          As to your “laundry” I will concede that you do have some poles and lines. I’m afraid the curtain looks a little like a stage prop and also why is the curtain electric or anyway what is that cord going up to it? Really I can’t quite imagine what happens when one switches on a wet electric curtain… be careful.

          PS: How could clean laundry contaminate anything, especially a nice clean blog?

          • kininvie says:

            It’s a hose, Linnie. A hose to stave off the drought. I knew you’d notice it. I thought, damn I should have rolled up the hose…but too late. The dryas seedheads, being plants, not washing, are on the blog. You’ll have to look there. As for my curtain being a stage prop….I’m flabbergasted. It’s only dry enough outside in Scotland to wash curtains about every five years, and you complain that it’s a stage prop?
            BTW, I think Uncanny Death ( – for new readers) would make a fine movie. Now you have the skills….

            • linniew says:

              You made me really laugh this time, which goes so well with tonight’s beer… Well I will say ‘sure, it’s a hose, and a newly washed curtain’, if you will say ‘sure it was a manufacturer’s tag’ on my laundry drying in my previous post. (Which it was and not a creepy insect.) (I so enjoy cutting deals with you.)

              Oh I see you added the image of the fuzzy seedheads. I love them! I want to spin them into yarn.

              And I agree completely that Uncanny Death would make a superior movie. (I would let you select the music.) But the story, with all it’s lies and turns of plot and passionate romance–it would need quite a lot of resolution, don’t you think? (It was your turn to write as I remember.)

  5. Alberto says:

    Well well well… where do I start? Maybe some pills for headache first, just because the movie was crazy fast moving but hey it was amazing really, please make another one, or better: quit blogging and start a new film maker career, please! That bird was incredibly quick, what was it?
    I love crocosmia too and I’m happy to hear you too can’t spell or pronounce the montbretia name, which seems to be largely diffused in the UK. Indeed I liked very much the combo with that geranium, which is not that pesky red but a deep burgundy.
    I’m keeping a spare place for you at the Biennale di Venezia for the day you’ll be famous…
    You inspired me on making a movie too btw.

    • linniew says:

      So is that ‘please quit blogging’ or ‘please make more headache-provoking movies’? Of course it was a hummingbird Alberto, and if I could have enlarged the image and slowed it down I most certainly would have done that. I tried! The format, provided by iMovie, determined the short length of the clips, to make the movie trailer, building to a crescendo of music and mad motion! It was a bit dizzy toward the end…

      As you probably expected, I looked up Biennale di Venezia, and I will look forward to participating in the film festival portion of the event. Thanks for the kind view of my geranium color and I’m just glad it’s not pesky red– anything burgundy must be good.

      • linniew says:

        Oh and I forgot to say YES Alberto, make a movie! ( I’m so excited!) When I began I just wanted to speak from my garden and then one thing led to another. But I love the idea of a movie sequence simply being part of the post.

        • Alberto says:

          Well I forgot you are such a multi-tasking woman with a multi-tasking phone, so you might obviously make a blast-head movie AND keep blogging at the same time.
          Tomorrow I’m going to start shooting the movie, I’m busy with the castings now, got to go…

          PS: an actual hummingbird? I always thought you were joking but you have real proof instead…

          • linniew says:

            Joking? ME? Really Alberto. Yes that hummingbird was not easy to get. You should meet his agent, a real ogre and made me pay up front with handfulls of nicotiana blooms–highway robbery. (Most birds work for sunflower seeds.) So get some good actors and be tough, it’s a grueling business. I can’t wait to see the outcome!!

  6. Rachelle says:

    Your first toe-dipping into the deep pool of video was enchanting! I hope the Blogosphere doesn’t lose you to Youtubpia! I love crocosmia! Here in central WI it is the cold winters that prevent them from making evil plans for world domination. We have to dig them up and bury them away in sarcophagii for the winter. Speaking of which how is the pretty campanula horribilis ‘Rachelle’?

    I see Kininvie mus have given up on his midge repellant research…

    • linniew says:

      Hi Rachelle
      Movies are tempting, with all the new accessible software. I have only barely peeked at what is available.
      So far the mystery plant ‘Rachelle’ has not bloomed. I will report when she does!

      As for Kininvie he has been researching Martha Stewart instead of doing midge repellent, such a slacker.

  7. Are you kidding me? That was INCREDIBLE!!!! Plus I didn’t get the title until the end which is pure genius in itself. The music, the text, the photos, pure Hollywood-esque. Wait. No. BETTER than Hollywood because Hollywood often isn’t all that fantastic.

    As for the Crocosmia/Geranium combo, I think there is enough green and interesting rocks between them that it works beautifully. I love the whole vignette with the birdbath and tree trunk and other interesting plants. I’m waiting for savvy plant breeders to manufacture a PINK crocosmia. When it happens, (I’m not holding my breath) I will be planting it everywhere because I too love the structure and tropical feel of the plant. And pink!

    • linniew says:

      Honestly I just used the iMovie trailer process, so easy, very fun. But I’m glad you enjoyed it Gracie, and that you find my color scheme tolerable. I will watch for pink crocosmias, they may pop up if it indeed is invasive and we can patent them and retire. You might also consider spray paint over the orange….

  8. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Your film is stunning and someday I’ll be able to say, “I knew her when.” Orange Lucifer and the deep wine red geranium look gorgeous together IMHO but I’m not known for my highly refined taste. It would be fun for you to also have ‘Lucifer’ and I also recommend ‘Hellfire’ about which the Far Reaches Farm tag says, “You don’t have to sell your soul to have this in your garden but once you see it, you would be more than willing. New selection from the UK that has to be Lucifer’s love child. This is so much better than that old devil. Stout dark sooty stems holding deep burning red flowers with a wide flared corolla that lacks only the smell of brimstone and the wail of sinners. We do get involuntary high-pitched keening from people who see our big display plant so maybe we’re just missing the brimstone.”

    • linniew says:

      Wow Peter, that ‘Hellfire’ crocosmia sounds awesome, love child indeed, and no surprise it came from the UK, that den of intrigue and wild parties at country estates. I completely loved the Far Reaches Farm quote. Wouldn’t it be fun to write those descriptions? And we would be so good at it.

  9. I hope you don’t mind, but I had a glass of dry riesling as I watched your trailer. Can’t wait for the full feature. Will it be standard-length or a full-evening feature?

    Oh, and just so you know: You’re not the only one to kill a crocosmia… And mine was from my Mum’s garden! Oh, dear… And according to an Irish friend, over there they grow as weeds along the highways, so I can’t understand what I’ve done wrong – or what anybody can really do wrong…

    • linniew says:

      The full movie, with extra features and bird interviews, is 3 hours long. (Like Hamlet.)

      Maybe your winter was too cold for your croscosmia. See Rachelle’s comment above, how in Wisconsin gardeners must dig up the roots –like dahlias– and keep them inside in winter.

      • I have several different filmatisations of “Hamlet on DVD, so I’m not unaccustomed to long movies… (And when I worked in a hotel in London some 12 years ago, an elderly American lady asked me “Are y’all melancholy over there?” when she realised I was Danish… She was thrilled when I replied with the entire “to be or not to be” soliloquy and ended up giving me a 30$ tip for carrying her bags 10 feet to the lift! Having a Dane quote Hamlet in Shakespeare’s home country was apparently the highlight of her European tour so far…)

        And it was indeed a cold winter that killed my crocosmias, but still… They had survived for 15 years plus in my Mum’s garden and then they died in their first winter here. Such a shame! Though to be fair, the ground here is very moist, so a severe winter will do more damage than in a drier garden. Still, I’d like to get my hands on some more crocosmias, perhaps to grow in a slightly raised bed – or perhaps just the drain we had installed in 2011 might make the ground dry enough for them to overwinter…

  10. Well you have established beyond a doubt and quite dramatically that crocosmia attract hummingbirds. I am not quite sure what else you have done, but I will look for the full length feature in the theatres.

    • linniew says:

      That bird. It truly came by as I was filiming, and I shot a blurry sequence of it, then the next day I returned to the crocosmia and I had the camera and I thought to myself ‘miserable bird won’t come back again’ but he did. So yeah, they like crocosmia.

      You’ll love the full movie. There’s a part in there where the hummingbird perches on the Japanese hydrangea vine and does a W.C. Fields impersonation…

    • kininvie says:

      Ah, come on Carolyn, the choice of music at the very least suggests she has a career with Disney. And it’s not many people who can make a drama out of a crocosmia. In fact, I suspect it may be a world first…

  11. Bravo! Those hummingbirds are really hard to capture, even with video, aren’t they?

    • linniew says:

      Hi Jason
      Yes I had about given up, but it seems we have this one hummer who aspires to a career in film and he just kind of walked onto the set… He wasn’t into close-ups though. Maybe he wears a toupee or something.

  12. Katie says:

    That was delightful! It’s always a treat to read your blog anyway, and now movies! I love the way the bright orange crocosmia lights up your shady garden. Never be afraid of bold colors, you need them to break up all that green.

    • linniew says:

      It was probably a mistake to up the bet with a movie. What can I do next, free lottery tickets?

      But I hugely appreciate your kind words Katie and that you share my love of color. You should see the wallpapers in my house…

  13. Nell Jean says:

    Marvelous movie. Maybe it’s only here in the hot and humid south that Crocosmia is such an invasive nuisance. I figured out how to handle it. Pull it out by the armload or have it mowed down by the square yard. Loved your hummingbird.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Nell Jean!
      Wow sounds like the crocosmia in your neighborhood does well. Oregon is all rain except for about three months in summer at which time it is hot and dry– I guess that can kill the plant here. My plan, if it over-grows, is to dig up roots and give them to people. (I won’t send you any okay?)

  14. Susan says:

    I am in awe of your skills. Really really impressed. Congratulations. Also loved the laundry spat. Very funny.

  15. David says:

    You have a fun blog. This is my first time to visit and here you are making movies! I watched it twice; once with popcorn and once without. Please make more movies, but make them longer. I had extra popcorn leftover and this felt just plain weird. :0)
    We actually have an almost identical sense of humor except I don’t make movies about crocrosmias (sic). BTW: I actually DO know how to spell this plant, but I just wanted to use (sic) since I never get to with most other gardeners.
    I’m also impressed that you used Ludite in a garden post. You have cheered me up and given me hope.
    Tropical Texana

    • linniew says:

      Hi David
      I am seriously impressed with anyone who can spell crocosmia. When I bought the plants last spring I remembered the word in a twisted way and I went around saying “I planted coscrosmia! I planted coscrosmia!” –and if you look closely at THAT spin on it well you will never get it right again or if you do you will hesitate, and experience doubt. (Fair warning.)

      Can’t wait to visit you at Tropical Texana. Save me some of that popcorn.

  16. Alistair says:

    Linnie, I have the common red lucifer, I didn’t even know there was an orange version, I will have to get it as it should be fine in our garden as its only yellow ones which we kill. I loved your mini movie and watched it with what sounded like dolby supersound. How you did it without an actual cigarette I don’t know perhaps you had one of those e cigs. Well anyway I was hoping to hear the accent of an Oregonanian. The last time I watched a movie clip of a blogger from the USA I commented how I enjoyed her American twang, haven’t heard from her since do you think this may mistakenly have been construed as an insult. Looking forward to the epic.

    • linniew says:

      As you look for the Lucifer in orange I will be watching for the red. (I wish we could swap roots.) Sometimes when I’m sleeping and the dream events are stressful I find that I am lighting a cigarette in the dream. It is very strange because I have never smoked tobacco in this life so I guess it was another incarnation I am remembering. But anyway the movie was completely without such although we won’t talk about beer.

      I first posted the movie to a free site called Vimeo. There is also YouTube and surely others. Then I got the web address of the movie there and linked to it from the blog post, so I didn’t use up a huge amount of data at my blog site.

      I would be happy to narrate (with my Oregon accent “ON”) a little garden clip if I could somehow get you Alistair and everyone else (think of all the interesting voices!) to do the same. We might have a garden blog Film Festival, like the bloom days and foliage days and etc that normal I mean other blogs participate in. Alberto has already promised a movie. I bet you have a movie camera function on some digital gizmo. And you could have a laundry-line scene…

  17. This is my first visit to your blog – I’d like to say, loved the movie and for the first time ever I’ve now have in my mind the actual size of a hummingbird, so thank you for that! I do like the combo with the geranium, I love a happy accident in the garden!
    I did grow Crocosmia, an orange variety, I’ve since got rid as it was spreading everywhere. I think it’s one of those plants that given the right conditions it will thrive (invade).
    A neighbour grows red Lucifer and it’s probably the only one of her plants that I would mind showing up somewhere in my garden, unlike some of the others.
    I hope your Crocosmia is very happy with you!

    • linniew says:

      Hi there Angie–
      Welcome, and thanks so much for commenting! I’ve come to appreciate the crocosmia, if only because every time I visit its neighborhood I see a hummingbird zinging around the blooms. I hope to find the red version to add to the bird’s cafe garden!

  18. jane scorer says:

    Lucifer is a lovely clear red, you are right. I love the colour of your geraniums, very rich and gorgeous !

    • linniew says:

      Welcome Jane!
      I think the burgundy red geranium actually improves the color of the orange crocosmia and makes me like it better. But now I am keen for the red Lucifer…

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