Northern Shade Gardening

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with Purple and Silver Flowers

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Category: Bulbs
Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flowers with light shining through

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flowers with light shining through

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ (large Dutch crocus) have a very beautiful two-toned mauve colour combination on the flowers that make a wonderful display in the spring garden. They mix beautifully with other purple flowers, and make a strong contrast to the gold crocus. These were new to my garden last fall, and I’ve been very pleased with them. I can recommend them for your garden down to zone 3.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' with petals folded up

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with petals folded up

When folded up, the petals appear pale, and while pretty, they don’t hint at the beauty that will appear when they unfurl. Each morning, when the temperatures are cooler or when it is cloudy and the light is low, the flowers are folded up tight, nestled in the striped foliage.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' large Dutch crocus

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ large Dutch crocus

Then when the sun warms up, they unfold to show their pretty colour scheme. Once fully opened, they hide most of the leaves. The petals are narrower than other C. vernus, so you can see between them, but they produce many flowers per corm, so they still make a full display.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flower 6 petals

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flower 6 petals

The six petals of ‘Vanguard’ alternate between light mauve ones and pale silvery gray ones on the outside. This gives them a slightly shimmery look, which stands out more than the solid coloured crocus. It is an attractive pattern that adds some sparkle to the early spring garden. The darker purple petals fade to the light silver gray colour at the edges.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flower petals glowing

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flower petals glowing

When the sunshine hits the flowers, they glow and light up the garden. In the picture above, you can see the translucent quality of the petals, giving them an ethereal beauty. Despite its delicate appearance, ‘Vanguard’ is hardy, and survived a long zone 3 winter very well. All of my crocus do well here, and come back just about as strong the next year. However, I haven’t had any spread much yet.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flowers from above

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flowers from above

In this shot you can see the pattern of 3 inner petals and 3 outer petals. On the inside they are all a similar light mauve colour, with faint striations of darker colour. The bright golden stigmas and anthers providing a contrast to the purple.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flowers coming up through fall leaves

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flowers coming up through fall leaves

The great thing about crocus is that they will come up through anything in the garden. These crocus are rising up through the fall leaves, which I hadn’t got around to lifting yet. The crocus don’t mind, and flower just as cheerfully, even if the gardener is behind schedule. :) They look very natural emerging from the tree debris. This part of the garden has mainly deciduous trees, so the sun loving crocus get the spring light before the new leaves fill in.

 

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' flowers

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ flowers

This picture shows some of the surrounding crocus in this bed, with ‘Vanguard at the centre. To the left are crocus that have been here a few years, and to the right are some of the new additions planted last fall.  ‘Vanguard’ started blooming a little bit earlier than the other Crocus vernus, but lasted just as long as them.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' with crocus remembrance behind

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with crocus remembrance behind

With their soft mauve and light silvery gray colour, ‘Vanguard’ looks great combined with many other crocus. In the photo above they are mixed with  some other large flowered Crocus vernus ‘Striped Beauty’ to the left and the deeper purple Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’ behind. You can see how both of the other crocus have more rounded, wider petals, forming a goblet shape, while ‘Vanguard’s petals are more slender.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' with Crocus vernus 'Pickwick' behind

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ behind

Here ‘Vanguard’ is paired with Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’, another purple striped crocus and the white Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ at the very back. ‘Vanguard’ matches well with ‘Pickwick’, which has white petals with lots of purple stripes. The two have similar colours, but in different patterns for a subtle variation.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' with other crocus in garden

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with other crocus in garden

In the shot above you can see how well they coordinate with all the other white and purple crocus. The purple striped ‘Striped Beauty’ are to the left, another striped crocus, ‘Pickwick ‘, is behind, and a solid crocus, ‘Remembrance’ is in the upper left. At the back right are some mostly white ‘Silver Coral’, which have a strong, deep purple base to their goblet.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' in back with Crocus tommasinianus 'Whitewell Purple' in front

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ in back with Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ in front

In the picture above, Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ is paired with Crocus tommasianus ‘Whitewell Purple’. Although they look good in this shot, with the darker ‘Whitewell Purple’ in front of the lighter ‘Vanguard’, I can’t really recommend ‘Whitewell Purple’. Of course all crocus look beautiful, and ‘Whitewell Purple’ is extra early, an excellent trait, but it was very short blooming compared to the other crocus.  Also the flowers are nice, but with their very narrow petals they don’t have as much of an impact. There are many early C. chrysanthus’ that I like better. ‘Vanguard’ did look great with them, though, when the blooms times overlapped.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' showing mauve and gray petals

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ showing mauve and gray petals

I’ve been very pleased with how well ‘Vanguard’ has done in the garden, and how it forms a nice bridge for the surrounding crocus, helping them all coordinate together. I do recommend this crocus for its beauty, large flower size, length of bloom, and ease of combining with other crocus.

7 Responses to “Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ with Purple and Silver Flowers” »

  1. paulinemulligan :
    May 15, 2013 at 12:29 am

    What a fantastic display of crocus, looking at this and your last post, your lawn must look absolutely gorgeous with all these wonderful flowers. Vanguard is beautiful and I must look out for it next autumn when buying my bulbs. I have a couple of areas where crocus do well but most of the garden is very heavy clay which they don’t like.

  2. Rose :
    May 15, 2013 at 6:26 am

    What a gorgeous display of crocus! I never pay much attention to the types of crocus I plant, so it’s nice to have a recommendation for one that is particularly pretty and strong. ‘Vanguard’ is a beauty; it seems to glow in the sunlight in your first photo. The striped ones are some of my favorites, and I have been trying to plant more of them.

    My crocuses didn’t last long enough for me to enjoy them this year–just as they were all opening up, we had some warm weather, and that seemed to send them into a decline in a hurry.

  3. Northern Shade :
    May 15, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Pauliine, I’ve been enjoying all of the crocus blooms as a colourful start to the garden year. Later in the season I have more foliage combinations or more subtle flower groups, but right now there are colourful petals everywhere.

    Rose, I’ve really come to appreciate the striped ones more, too, and the ones with alternating petal colours stand out and really catch your eye.

  4. Marie :
    May 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

    How lovely :)
    Spring is in the air :)

  5. Northern Shade :
    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Marie, we had a long wait for spring this year, so it is all the sweeter when it arrives.

  6. Köögikata :
    May 17, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Good “late morning”! Nice to see you are awake finally too. We had also very late and cold spring, but when it finally got warmer, flowers pop up very quickly. Then again came cold period what was in a way good – flowering last longer. Now finally seems real warm spring will come in few days. :)
    I like very much your crocuses “Tricolor” and “Vanguard”. And I agree some tomassianus’ crocuses are too short blooming and too unnoticeable for enjoying. Had once in work-garden tomassianus roseus and it was only few days and seen only thanks to they were planted in plain soil flowerbed side by side. In lawn they’ve bloomed without noticing at all I guess.

  7. Northern Shade :
    May 17, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Köögikata, all of the sleepy bulbs are blooming at once, now that the spring temperatures have warmed things up. Crocus are so short blooming anyways, you might as well plant ones that are going to bloom a for a few weeks at least. ‘Vangauard’ bloomed the longest of all my crocus, for about 3 weeks, unlike C. tommasinanus. Although ‘Whitewell Purple’ looked nice for the few days that its flowers overlapped ‘Vanguard’, I wouldn’t plant ‘Whitewell Purple’ again.

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