The crocus started flowering at the end of April, and have been blooming up to the third week of May. I have a variety of purple shades, in early and late flowering types, so the waves of colour kept coming all month. Here’s a closer look at their pretty petals.
This is the mid- flowering Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’. It starts blooming after the early C. chrysanthus (snow crocus), and is one of the first C. vernus (large Dutch crocus) to bloom. It is especially attractive with the alternating petals of medium purple and silvery grey purple. You can see the silver colour on the outside of every second petal at the top of the photo. There are 3 darker petals slightly closer to the centre, and the larger silvery petals are held farther out.
When the Vanguard flowers are partially closed, the alternating colour is very noticeable. It makes a nice contrast to the more solid, dark purple of the Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ behind. The Crocus vernus are a more substantial looking crocus than the C. tommasinianus. The larger flowers of Vanguard pack in many more petals per square foot and hide most of the foliage. They have darker green foliage, with a very distinct silver line tracing the centre of each leaf.
This shot of Vanguard shows some of its neighbours. There are some Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ in the upper left corner, and some pure white Crocus chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ to the upper right. Off to the left, but not showing in the photo, are lots of yellow and gold crocus to add some contrasting zip. Since Vanguard blooms mid-season, it overlaps the late and early crocus flowering times, and can pair with any of them.
This one shows the petals towards the end of the flowering period, with some starting to turn papery thin and fold back. The blooms last a couple of weeks before fading away to make room for the perennials growing between.
Here you can see the tightly folded buds at the top left of the photo, showing only the pale colour on the outer 3 petals. The flowers at the bottom are just starting to open and display the 3 deeper colored petals within.
Vanguard flowers have a little extra sparkle in the sunlight, with their silver grey colour. They really draw your eye in the garden.
Crocus are great for a northern garden, since they don’t mind a late spring snowfall in May. Most of the petals will fold up when it snows, so they usually don’t get damaged. When the snow melts, they just open in the sunshine again. The Vanguard have performed well in our cold climate.
Here’s a view of the Vanguard crocus from above. The flowers are large enough that the petal tips touch at the edges to make a sheet of pale mauve.
Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ are pretty flashy, too. They get your attentions with their zippy purple racing stripes. The petals are a white to very pale purple, with dark vertical purple stripes flowing up from a deep purple base. They make a fantastic partner to gold or yellow crocus.
These Pickwick are paired with some purple and yellow Crocus sieberi ‘Firefly’ behind, and some yellow Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ to the side.
Here are some Pickwick next to a large group of golden Crocus ‘ Yellow Mammoth’. The bright ‘Yellow Mammoth’ make a good contrast to all of the other purple crocus surrounding them.
The bare spaces in between the crocus are where the perennials will be popping up soon. The growing perennial leaves will hide the crocus leaves as they die back. The tree leaves are just starting to come out now towards the end of May, and will soon shade this bed, so most of the perennials planted in this garden site are shade tolerant, but the sun loving crocus perform well with their strategy of grabbing the earliest spring light under the bare trees.
Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ have smaller flowers than the C. vernus. The picture above shows how the ‘Whitewell Purple’ at the bottom are about half the size of the C. vernus behind. They are an early crocus, like the little snow crocus.
In this closeup shot, you can see that the ‘Whitewell Purple’ are still charming in their own way. When fully open, they show the contrasting golden anthers and pistil. I haven’t noticed as many bees visiting the crocus this year, but usually they love this mini field of flowers for a nectar source so early in the season.
The crocus were getting a spring snow bath about a third of the way through May, which is typical for Edmonton. I love that you don’t have to wait until the weather warms up to get a flower display. Hardy plants, like crocus, are great for extending the growing season.
Look how pretty the ‘Whitewell Purple’ blossom is, with its 3 smaller inner petals and 3 larger outer petals.
Crocus sieberi subsp sublimus ‘Tricolor’ is another stoic bulb. A few of the flowers in the middle are blown open by the snow, but most are closed tight, and will be fine when the sun shines again.
The eye-popping colour scheme of purple and gold on one flower makes Tricolor a real standout. As you can see at the top of the photo, when closed they look like a rocket, with a gold base, white band, and purple top. When open, they display the same colour scheme inside, with the gold at the very centre, then the white, then the purple reaching to the petal tips. Tricolor is great to combine with both gold and purple crocus, as it knits them together with its two-toned theme.
In the shot above, the Tricolor are starting to fade, and some petals are thinning, as they fold back. These crocus open early, so they combine well with C. chrysanthus, or C. tommasinianus.
This closeup shows the sunny interior colour. Aren’t they fantastic? These are my favourite of all the purple crocus, along with Vanguard.
Here’s one last look at the inside of a Tricolor bloom. The white band makes the purple and gold pop even more.
These Crocus sieberi subsp atticus ‘Firefly’ have more delicate looking colour. There is a slightly pinkish tinge to the lavender colour. Like Tricolor, they are fairly early, flowering before the larger C. vernus get going. They have shorter petals, and sit closer to the ground. The flowers open very quickly once the first green leaves start spiking up from the soil. I hadn’t even removed the fall leaves from this bed, but the little ‘Firefly’ just pushed the leaf blanket up and flowered anyways. I then removed their leaf top hat, and there they were, so pretty and fresh.
This closeup shows the more delicate colour of Firefly. If you’re looking for an early crocus to blend with other early pastel coloured crocus, these work well. I have some soft yellow, Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’, and I’m thinking of pairing these with them.
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ are the first crocus up in my garden. The inside of the petals is white, and on the outside is a large purple splotch in the centre of each petal. When they first appear, or on a cloudy day, they seem very purplish. Then when the petals fully open and stretch back, they are mostly white.
Here are some early crocus in the lawn. The deep purple adds some needed colour to a lawn that still looks like winter. Yes, some dandelions are also trying to colour the grass, but they don’t get the love that the crocus do.
These Prins Claus have opened back, so they appear white from the top. You can just see small flashes of purple now.
You can see some other crocus combinations from last year. Here’s a little crocus bouquet in the lawn. The crocus have faded now, and many other bulbs are blooming, but they are still one of my favourites for braving an Edmonton spring, snow and all.