Northern Shade Gardening

Cheery Snow Crocus Flowers

Thursday, May 5, 2011 Category: Bulbs
Crocus chrysanthus snow crocus with yellow and light blue flowers

Crocus chrysanthus snow crocus with yellow and light blue flowers

Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus) are one of the first bulbs to flower in spring, with delicate little petals in cheery colours. The only bulbs in my garden that flowered earlier this year were the Galanthus (snowdrops). I look forward to the sight of all of these miniature flowers appearing as the snow melts. Crocus vernus (large Dutch crocus) flowers are double the size of the snow crocus. However, even though each snow crocus flower is small, as a large drift they make a wonderful patchwork of colour against the brown of  last fall’s leaves. I have a large patch of Crocus planted in my lawn as well.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' sunny yellow flowers with maroon stripes

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ sunny yellow flowers with maroon stripes

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ has medium yellow petals, and on the outside there are zippy maroon coloured stripes that show up well when the petals are closed. In the brightest light of day, the petals open wide to show a glowing yellow, and the contrasting stripes are not very visible. Instead, there are  golden anthers in each cup.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' with closed petals in gold and maroon

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ with closed petals in gold and maroon

In early morning,  evening, or on a cloudy day, the petals fold upright, so the stripes on the outside make them a little more flamboyant. In the picture above you can see how the coloured lines curve up to the petal tips.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' in front with 'Blue Pear'l behind

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ in front with ‘Blue Pearl’ behind

Here you can see a group of yellow ‘Gipsy Girl’ snow crocus  in the front, with the pale blue colour of ‘Blue Pearl’ behind.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' with Crocus chrysanthus'Blue Pearl'

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ with Crocus chrysanthus’Blue Pearl’

Above you can see the petals of  ‘Gipsy Girl’ opening as the sun hits them. Last year, the ‘Gipsy Girl’ and the similar looking ‘Fuscotinctus’ crocus were about the same size, but this year the  ‘Gipsy Girl’ flowers are almost twice as big. If I plant any more next fall, I would go with ‘Gipsy Girl’ instead of Fuscotinctus’.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Fuscotinctus' yellow flowers

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ yellow flowers

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ is another snow crocus with a bright yellow colour embellished with contrasting maroon stripes on the outside of the petals. The petals are a little darker than ‘Gipsy Girl’, so if you want a more golden coloured snow crocus these are a good choice.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' flowers with butter yellow petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ flowers with butter yellow petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ has delicate shadings of soft, butter yellow and cream. These look great with other darker yellow flowers, or with light colours like ‘Blue Pearl’.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' flowers in dappled light

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ flowers in dappled light

Here the Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ have a bit of dappled light, under the bare branches of a maple tree. The crocus would not be as decorative in the shade, with their petals always folded, but in early spring, they do well before the leaves come out on the trees.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' flowers

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’ flowers

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’ is a real chameleon of a crocus. In bright light it looks all white, with no hint of its name. However, when the sun is low, or with a few shadows, it can appear very blue. The outside of the petals are more blue, so the colour is more pronounced when they start to fold in dimmer light.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Snow Bunting' snow crocus in white

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ snow crocus in white

My Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ flowered first this year, perhaps because the snow melted a little quicker in this area of the garden. Their white petals are beautiful in the bright sun, and they show up perfectly against the dark earth. Inside at the base, the bottom of the petals have a gold coloured ring to match the anthers.

Crocus chrysanthus snow crocus in yellow and light blue

Crocus chrysanthus snow crocus in yellow and light blue

These crocus are planted in between hardy geraniums, which are still underground. I planted these in holes dug around the perennials,  around 15 to 20 per hole. There are around 200 Crocus chrysanthus, and 200 Crocus vernus in this section.  As the crocus fade away through spring, the geraniums start emerging, and cover the fading bulb foliage. In the centre is a lilac, with leaf buds that are just starting to swell. The layering of a small lilac shrub above,  hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’ perennials under, and snow crocus and Crocus vernus (large Dutch crocus) bulbs between has been very successful, and one that I can recommend. Here are some more Crocus chrysanthus photos and information from last year.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' snow crocus with Crocus vernus behind

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ snow crocus with Crocus vernus behind

I’m very pleased with how the cheery little snow crocus are flourishing. They have come back with more and larger flowers this year, despite a harsh winter. Since some bulbs tend to fade away year after year, it is great to see the snow crocus getting better as they settle in. They make a wonderful start to the gardening year.

13 Responses to “Cheery Snow Crocus Flowers” »

  1. takki :
    May 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    These are indeed cheerful, and so welcome after what feels like an exceptionally long winter! I’m also in Edmonton, and your posts are inspirational as I go about renewing my garden. What direction does this bed face?

  2. Monne :
    May 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    What wonderful crocusbilder:) Spring is lovely,. Have a great day / Monne

  3. Diane :
    May 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Wonderful photos! They are just a big favourite of mine.

  4. Northern Shade :
    May 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Takki, This bed faces south, and on the east side is a fence, giving it some shade in the morning. There is a maple tree casting bare branch shadows at this time of year, so the bed gets enough sun to have open crocus flowers for most of the day, from about 11:00 to 7:00. Even in the early morning, the closed buds are very sweet.

  5. Northern Shade :
    May 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Monne, once the colour starts bursting forth, it is a lovely time of year. I like to plant lots of bulbs in the fall, for the quick burst of spring colour.

    Diane, they are favourites of mine too. These are outside my bedroom window, so I often observe the crocus through the glass, as well as making trips outdoors.

  6. Amy :
    May 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

    What a breath of fresh air after a long winter! I love following your site from here in Red Deer. The crocus groupings look so great. Just wondering if or what you have in the beds to follow up after they are done with their showy blooms so the bed doesn’t look sparse thereafter.

  7. Amy :
    May 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I have just read more of your text to answer my question of what you have planted around them. Would love to see this area when the lilac blooms:-)

  8. Northern Shade :
    May 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Amy, the perennial geraniums make a great followup, since they come up a little late. The main perennials here are the Geranium ‘Rozanne’, but I also have some Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ here, as well as some Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’. The link shows some photos of them flowering together.

    I hope that Red Deer is starting to green up for you. The buds of my lilac are swelling, but there is no leaf showing yet.

  9. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    May 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Such a beautiful collection, what a relief to see them again! Your waves of colour are so pleasing. My lilac buds are also swelling, and the first few daffs opened over the last few days. :)

  10. Ms. S :
    May 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    It looks like your collection is really filling in. It must a great pleasure to look out and see so much colour this time of year. Very pretty!

  11. Northern Shade :
    May 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Rebecca, I was pleased to see that they all came back so healthy and vigorous, with lots of flowers. They’re so hardy and pretty, that they make a great fanfare to open the spring garden.

    Wow, your daffodils are already open. Once things start rolling, there are so many pleasant surprises every time you stroll around the garden.

    Ms. S, the snow crocus have a lot more flowers on them this year. I love this section of the garden right now.The Crocus vernus (Dutch crocus) are especially bigger in size and number of buds this year. I’ve got some pictures, and I’m going to write a post on them next.

  12. Ann :
    May 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Wonderful to see you back! You have quickly become my “go to” website for anything to do with shade plants. I clicked on the link regarding Campanula lactiflora “Pritchard’s Variety” and have been searching for this particular plant for a couple of years but have not had any luck locating a Canadian source. Would you be willing to share where you purchased yours? Thanks a lot.

  13. Northern Shade :
    May 8, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Ann, I’m glad you find the site useful. I bought the Campanula locally, and I’m not positive, but I think it might have been from Hole’s Greenhouse in Edmonton. They do ship to addresses in Canada. I keep a spreadsheet of all of my perennials to organize the information about them, and I should probably add a column to record the source, too.

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