Winter’s waning by the time the crocus start to bloom as they usually start to flower as the snow is melting. Don’t laugh but would you believe that I’m choosy these days when it comes to growing them. When I first started to plant the corms I bought a few ‘value packs’ that had a mixture of colours together. Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing! In later years I transplanted them all so that I could keep the similar flower colours together. Though it’s a yearly job as misfits always seem to pop up.
That was also the time when bigger was better in my eyes and I bought many of the larger showier Crocus vernus Dutch spring flowering types. I’m not as big fan of those late flowering crocus as I once was. They certainly have their place in the garden as they extend the flowering period of crocus and are good for the early bees in flight. The birds can peck at those flowers all they want and the squirrels and mice can raid my corm stock … but just as long as they leave my smaller flowers well alone! The little diminutive ones are much more favourable in my eyes.
The flowers are thermonastic just like tulips.
You’ll all have seen the affects of thermonasty but probably didn’t realise the scientific name behind it. It means that a slight increase in temperature will bring about the opening of the flowers. While a decrease will close them though on wet cloudy days the flowers will probably remain shut. A change of temperature of no more than 0.5 °C will start a thermonastic reaction in the corm.
|Winter flowering ‘Cream Beauty’ with roots, corm, stem, linear leaves with a silvery central stripe and flower.|
corm – a swollen underground plant stem
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ has soft creamy ‘naples yellow’ tepals with a purple feathering at the base along with a mild gentle fragrance. The best about the chrysanthus species is that they can produce many flowers per corm. Cream Beauty grows in a drift under my deciduous Silver Weeping Pear Tree and practically hugs the soil as it’s stems are very short. It’s very dry in this spot during the summer months which suits these corms so well in their dormant season. Hopefully the new growth from the Geraniums I planted here last year will camouflage their dying grassy leaves.
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Spring Beauty’ is white with a feathering of purple on the outside of the tetals. Then as the flowers open in the sunlight you’ll see that the inner tepals are a pale violet that contrasts with the bright orange anthers. This one grows in one of my scree beds in the front garden.
When it comes to the yellow ones it’s quite hard to tell them apart as many of them grow in the same part of the garden.
|‘Fuscotinctus’ (left image) | ‘Goldilocks’ (right image)
Crocus chrysanthus var ‘Fuscotinctus’ has fragrant yellow flowers stripped with bronze.
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Goldilocks’ is usually the 2nd one to flower in the garden and it has a light fragrance. It’s a bright cheery buttercup yellow with a darker brown base on the throat of the flower.
Both of these yellow ones seem to liberally increase in number every year.
Crocus tommasinianus is a woodland corm. Deer, rabbits, squirrels or mice don’t like them. It’s also known to many as ‘Tommys’, Tommies’ or Tommasini crocus after the Italian Botanist Muzio G Spirito de Tommansini. It has a very slender pale silvery lilac tepal and it’s always the first to start to flowering. In addition it faces south in the garden in a raised bed next to one of the bark pathways.
|with bright yellow stamens and reddish orange styles|
Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ is new to the garden this year. Well truth be told I can’t remember exactly where I planted them. I’m not holding out much hope of them even coming into flower this year as I planted them far too late in the season. Crocus really need to be planted as soon as possible in the autumn. Mine were planted in December …well I can’t resist a bargain!
Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ has a much bigger darker globlet flower than the other ‘Tommy’ crocus though it’s sterile.
Finally Crocus sieberi
Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma ‘Tricolor’ has a violet, yellow and white flowers with fragrant flowers.
|Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma ‘Tricolor’|
These winter flowering plants naturalise quite easily by self seeding unlike the larger Dutch ones and Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ which are sterile and need to increase via corms. They also require a planting position that receives at least half a day of sunlight. If there are any early pollinators around they’ll only visit those flowers that are open in the sunshine. Eventually mine will become dense swards of late winter colour. Planting crocus corms a bit deeper than the recommended 2-3 inches seems to deter squirrels.
What crocus grow in your garden and are they earlier or later to flower this year for you? I hope it won’t be long for winter to wane in your region too!