Despite the last 4 days of snow, the first crocus bud is up in the lawn. Those pointed leaves are spearing through last year’s fallen leaves, right in the middle of the snow melt. I adore these hardy bulbs that bring the first colour of spring. Their endearing habit of coming into bud just a few days after popping up is perfect for a gardener who’s grown impatient after 6 months of winter. This patch of lawn gets very shady when the trees leaf out, but the speedy crocus can take advantage of the early spring sunshine that filters through the bare tree branches.
Crocus don’t wait until you’ve done your garden cleanup to start flowering. This first intrepid bud is Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus ‘ (snow crocus). The petals are white and purple, and as you can see its an early riser. The fresh green leaves, each with a silver stripe, are almost as welcome as the buds, after a winter of monotony in the garden. Snow on evergreen branches is a pretty sight, but after 6 months I’m ready for something flashier. Soon this patch will be joined by the other purple, white and yellow crocus. Most of them are the smaller C. chrysanthus, but each small plant can produce many flowers. When they all open, the petal edges almost touch from flower to flower. With all of the leaves now, it won’t be long until the lawn is covered in blooms. I planted mostly the earliest flowering types of crocus here, so the leaves die back fairly quickly, and I can mow the lawn by the end of May, after they’ve gathered all of the energy they can. The garden has a mixture of early and late flowering crocus, to give a longer season of bloom.
Even ice crystals clinging to the bud’s petals don’t bother a snow crocus. This is the perfect plant for early spring in Edmonton. When the snow or clouds come, the petals simply fold up and wait patiently for the sun’s warmth, when they’ll unfurl and make a tapestry of spring colours . They are particularly showy when most of the garden is still a series of monochrome earth tones. A vibrant field of yellow and purple is a great start to the gardening year, especially after the dreariness of a long Edmonton winter. Happy gardening season.