Crocus on my Mind


For the last few days I’ve been driving south, from Montreal to South Carolina. I was expecting the days to get warmer and they have, but not by much. Along the Skyline Drive in Virginia, snow was very evident, up close …


Can anyone identify these trees?
I like these trees and the way the branches are twisted by the wind and weather. Can someone identify them for me?


… and in the distance.


The views along The Skyline Drive are spectacular, regardless of the season.
Snow covered the ground on mountain ranges that retreated in ever lighter shades of blue. The day was hazy. Even so, the views along The Skyline Drive were spectacular. I think this is true regardless of the season.


Seeing so much snow was discouraging when I thought I’d left it behind. But at an overnight stop along the way, I saw a sign that the temperatures were rising, and that spring really was on its way.


I spotted this crocus blooming in a garden in Virginia.
I spotted this tiny crocus blooming in a sheltered spot in a garden in Virginia.


Crocus are, to me, the quintessential sign that warmer weather is on its way, even though at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, they don’t begin to bloom until April. And although April is still months away, in anticipation I’m savouring the prospect.

Over the years I’ve planted thousands of crocus. I don’t plant them in the garden itself because I prefer to see them pushing up through ground that looks partly frozen.


These crocus have multiplied since they were planted some years ago. I like the way they are grouped.


Each fall I scatter bulbs across sections of lawn in large groups that I know will catch the eye from a distance. And each year, the groups grow larger.


Blooming under white tree trunks, the colours of the crocus stand out well.
Yellow crocus make a strong contrast to the white trunks of the birch trees. These are blooming on a sunny bank; behind them, white and purple crocus are just beginning to emerge.


I particularly like to look at the flowers up close, whether they are white …


garden 2008-08128
The stamens on this white crocus almost look good enough to eat.


or purple …


I'm not sure of the varietal name ... maybe simply purpurea.
I’m not sure of the varietal name … maybe simply purpurea.


yellow …


These are Yellow Mammoth.
These are Yellow Mammoth.


or striped.


I think these are Striped Beauty.
I think these are Striped Beauty.


Generally I mix the colours and varieties of crocus when I plant them, and I usually plant 350 or more every year.


Yellow mammoth crocus are one of my favourites.
Yellow mammoth crocus are one of my favourites. Mixed with the dark purple, they are particularly eye-catching.


Unlike my friend Kathy Purdy who is an expert on autumn crocus, or colchicums, (Kathy writes at www.coldclimategardening, a blog I recommend for anyone who gardens in a cool or cold zone), I plant only spring blooming crocus. Of these, I prefer the taller varieties that grow 4-6 inches rather than the shorter ones that max out at 3-4 inches. This is because I plant the bulbs in thick grass and I want the flowers to show as much as possible. Which they do, particularly when the sun shines through their petals.


I like the delicate striping on this bloom.
I like the delicate striping on this bloom.


Lit by the spring sun, each blossom shines, as if a fire is burning inside it.


garden 2008-08129
These crocus shine like beacons of warmer times to come.


For some years I resisted planting white crocus. I’d seen enough white snow and I wanted colour. But white bulbs add punch to the other colours so now I mix in a good percentage of white.

Each colour has its charms. The yellow varieties provide a good contrast to grass that only greens up slowly. In contrast to their sturdiness, the delicacy of this lilac crocus is hard to beat.


I wish I knew the varietal name so I could order more of these. Can anyone tell me what it is?


I like all the colours, but the yellow crocus remain my top choice. What’s not to like about a colour so warm and cheerful? And that’s what I need after a long hard winter, a touch of sunshine.

What about you? What flower do you look forward to in the spring?