Crocus vernus (large Dutch crocus) provide lots of pretty blooms early in spring, just when you are starved for new flowers after the long winter. They have large, showy blooms in bright colours, and flower right after the early Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus). I’ve included some pictures of the crocus bulbs I just planted in October, and a few photos of the flowers from last spring.
There is a patch of both Crocus vernus and Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus) just across the path here. You can follow those links to see what they looked like in bloom. They were such a bright cheery sight in earliest spring, that I wanted to spread more colour over to this section of the garden. The Paeonia (peony), Phlox and Campanula (bellflower) perennials in this bed won’t be up until later in spring, so these crocus bulbs will start the colour parade. Then the later rising perennial foliage will hide the decaying bulb leaves.
I enjoyed the purple and gold colour scheme so much last spring, that I wanted to recreate it here. This is a smaller space to plant in, because I can’t plant between the large bearded iris rhizomes or evergreen Dianthus. I debated about either going with the extra early snow crocus for first flowers, or the larger Dutch crocus, and ended up deciding on the large Crocus vernus. Originally, I was going to try out some new types, but I ended up planting the same Crocus corms that I planted last Fall, since I liked the large flowers and bright colours so much.
Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’ have large purple flowers, very bold and showy. In the picture of the packages at the top, their position is mostly hidden behind the Phlox plants. The photo directly above is from last spring, showing how cheery the purple petals are. There are 30 of these in the new section, but I wish I had put more of them at the back to balance the striped ones. If I can find more ‘Remembrance’, I’m going to extend the group.
Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ have purple and white stripes. These ones coordinate beautifully with ‘Remembrance’, as do the similarly coloured ‘Striped Beauty’. Both of these types of striped crocus are planted in front of the solid ‘Remembrance’. When planting in between perennials, I find it easiest to dig a hole for a group of 10 to 20, arrange the crocus bulbs randomly, settle them down in the loose soil at the bottom, and then cover them back up. There are 45 ‘Pickwick’ on one side and 30 ‘Striped Beauty’ planted here.
The Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ bulbs are in between the two stripy versions. ‘Silver Coral’ is white with a purple base, so it is perfect for in the centre of the solid and striped purple ones. The shot above shows them from last April. At the back right of the picture, you can see how their base colour matches the Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’. There are 30 ‘Silver Coral’ in the middle, to add a little rest from all of the purple.
In front of all of the the others are 40 Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’. These vivid crocus are a golden yellow, with a long bloom time. Their colour looks fabulous with the purples, a bright, cheery spring combination. The yellow really pops in front of the darker colours.
I also planted another 40 of the ‘Yellow Mammoth’ next to a separate group of blue Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’. Last year the Iris were in a group by themselves, underneath a Philadelphus (mockorange orange shrub). I think the ‘Yellow Mammoth’, which bloom at the same time, will make another pretty spring pairing. On impulse, I added another 30 ‘Striped Beauty’ next to the Iris and ‘Yellow Mammoth’ group. Now there will be purple and white striped crocus, then golden yellow crocus in the middle, and blue with gold-flecked iris on the other side. I’m eager to see how the three look together when they bloom.
It was a lot of fun planting crocus bulbs over the last few weekends, since the weather has been very warm for Edmonton, and the sun was shining. It feels good to have the warm sun on your skin, as you dig in the earth, and the Fall leaves gently waft down around you, then into the planting holes. It is one of my favourite parts of gardening. I always picture what the new bulbs will look like in spring as I plant, so I made a montage below to show how it looked in my mind.
The composite photo shows how the colours of the four crocus look together in the relative positions in which they’ve been planted, purple behind, white with a hint of purple in the middle, purple and white stripes on each side, and golden crocus in front. Now I can’t wait until next April, for the bulb procession to start. I’m a big fan of the small early bulbs to start the garden season extra early with a burst of colour. They are the perfect antidote to the blandness of an Edmonton April. All around will be the monotonous beige of late winter, but the bright crocus will sing that the garden season has really begun.