Northern Shade Gardening

Early Spring Crocus

Sunday, April 18, 2010 Category: Bulbs
Crocus garden bed

Crocus garden bed

The Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus) are fully open now, and making a wonderful display. These petite bulbs show their petals best in the sun, appearing translucent when the light shines through them. They are my current favourites, mostly because they were the first flowers to bloom this spring, and early is crucial when you’ve waited all winter for gardening to begin. I’ve also planted many of the smaller crocus in my grass for a spring lawn.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' with other crocus

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ with other crocus

Here is a shot showing part of the different groupings in the crocus bed, with Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ in the front. The Cream Beauty are a soft yellow colour, with a more delicate appearance. The trees around have not started to develop leaves yet, so the garden is relatively sunny for most of the day here, allowing the spring crocus to show their best.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' with lavender tinged petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’ with lavender tinged petals

The Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’ are mostly white, with  light bluish lavender on the outermost petals. That blue colour shows up best when they are in the bud stage, when the petals are folded, or when surrounded by snow.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' (snow crocus) yellow petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ (snow crocus) yellow petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ is very flashy, with distinctive maroon stripes contrasting against the yellow on the outside of the buds. I’ve never been attracted to striped flowers before, but I have a fondness for these in the spring garden. I’m ready for bold blooms, after not seeing flowers for so long. They are the first flowers blooming in the early spring garden, and they dazzle with their ornate colour scheme.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Snow Bunting' (snow crocus) glistening petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ (snow crocus) glistening

These little bulbs are Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’, with pure white petals. When the sun is bright, these flowers practically glisten while reflecting the light. The dark golden anthers and stigma in the centre are very noticeable.  ‘Snow Bunting’ is a very perky looking plant for having such simple petals.

Crocus chrysanthus ''Fuscotinctus' (snow crocus) with bee

Crocus chrysanthus ”Fuscotinctus’ (snow crocus) with bee

The photo above is another yellow crocus with maroon stripes, called Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’. The stripes are a little smaller than on Gipsy Girl,  if you are looking for a more subtle colour combination. You can see in the centre of the picture that a bee has been lucky to find an early flower.

One of the best things about these crocus in a northern garden, is that they don’t mind the cold, or a late snowfall. After they started blooming, the temperatures went down to – 11º C  (12º F) and the flowers were coated in fresh snow, but they just folded their petals, and opened again when the sun shone. This is a perfect strategy for such an early spring bulb. There is more information about these hardy Crocus chrysanthus in this previous post.

Now, more of the large Dutch crocus flowers are unfurling, and I’m sure when those showy blooms open fully, they will become my new favourites. :)

I liked so many of the snow crocus photos, that I decided to put them in a gallery. You can click on any of the gallery pictures to see a full size enlargement.

19 Responses to “Early Spring Crocus” »

  1. Sheila :
    April 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

    They are so pretty and cheery! Who wold not love them?

  2. Northern Shade :
    April 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Sheila, they perk me up every time I go out into the garden and see their soft petals. The crocus bed is outside my bedroom window, so I also enjoy watching them out the window.,

  3. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    April 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    What a beautiful and impressive collection of crocuses you have! How nice that you can see them from your bedroom window.

  4. Northern Shade :
    April 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Rebecca, the snow crocus are all open in the sun today, and the Crocus vernus are mostly open too, so the bed looks very colourful from the window, as well as the front. As I looked at it, I was wondering why I didn’t plant more crocus on the other side of the path, which now looks very bare in comparison. I’m going to do the same to the bed just across the small path next Autumn.

  5. Anonymous :
    April 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Oh, how lovely. That is very nice eye candy, indeed. I love this time of year when the bulbs sprout with all their lovely flowers!

  6. Northern Shade :
    April 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    # 5, as I wander around the yard, I keep making notes to plant more bulbs next Fall. There are no other flowers out yet, no leaves on the trees, but the bulbs really make the garden sing.

  7. Shady Gardener :
    April 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Wow! Northern Shade, you are enjoying spectacular blossoms! I love crocus – what a wonderful way for Spring to arrive! How are you doing???

  8. Northern Shade :
    April 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Shady Gardener, the spring bulbs bring the garden to life, when most other plants are still suspended, waiting for more warmth. I have to go out and gaze at the flowers frequently, and they catch my eye as I go by a window.

  9. Adrian Thysse :
    April 19, 2010 at 5:08 am

    What a great display! Do you do any kind of divide and replant routine, or do spread naturally?

  10. Northern Shade :
    April 19, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Adrian, some of the Crocus vernus were there before, but the Crocus chrysanthus were planted last Fall. They have multiple flowers, which makes them showy, and I planted a number of bulbs too. They are in between the hardy geraniums, which should cover the foliage as it fades back.

  11. Nell Jean :
    April 19, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Your crocus are lovely and the gallery to display the different views is really great. What a wonderful way to herald spring.

  12. Northern Shade :
    April 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Nell Jean, it is a good thing they bloom so early in spring. Today I just noticed a few tips of green forming on the lilac tree, so in a few weeks the leaves will be out, as well as on the maple, and this area will start to get more shady.

  13. Christine B. :
    April 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    The ‘Cream Beauty’ cultivar is sweet. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for it. Hopefully this isn’t some rare thing you picked up from a specialist nursery so I’ll never find it? Your crocuses are much friendlier than mine, which are quite antisocial: all at least a couple of inches apart. Hopefully they will fill in and look as yours do….

    Christine in Alaska

  14. Northern Shade :
    April 20, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Christine B., I found the Cream Beauty at a local greenhouse that gets in a good assortment in the Fall, and would plant more of them. The Crocus chrysanthus put up multiple stems, which helps for a full look, and I planted them close in groups. I dug holes between the perennials, and put them in clusters.

    I can’t get my Galanthus (snowdrops) to come up in groups, though. I planted more, and they are still widely spaced, so they look sparse.

  15. Birgitta :
    April 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Lovely Crocuses! Here they have finished for this year.
    Crocus tommasinianus is the one I like best but they are all wonderful.

    Birgitta

  16. Northern Shade :
    April 20, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    It’s great that the garden can have crocus blooms spread out for a while, with the bloom time of the different species. My other bulbs are quickly coming in to bloom now, because of our warm and sunny weather this week. There are more discoveries every day.

  17. The Garden Ms. S :
    April 20, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Your gallery is gorgeous. The Snow Bunting really captures the light beautifully. Now that I see how great the crocus look in large swaths, I really think that’s the way to go.

  18. Northern Shade :
    April 20, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    The Garden Ms. S, the little snow crocus really need a large group to make a display, especially without other flowers out yet. The little bulbs tuck easily among the perennial plants.

  19. Sylvana :
    April 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I’m loving all these pictures of crocuses. Even though mine are long gone and the tulips have begun, they are still a lovely sight to see.

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