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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.