Northern Shade Gardening

Combinations of Crocus Flowers in the Garden

Saturday, May 25, 2013 Category: Bulbs
large Dutch crocus in purple

large Dutch crocus in purple

I added some new crocus to the garden last fall, adjacent to some established ones, so that made a nice sweep of colour from early May. After an extended winter, all of the bulbs came out at once, and the garden was full of beautiful crocus flower combinations.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Prins Claus' and Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' behind

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ behind

Here are two shorter crocus. In front is Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ and behind is Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’. ‘Prins Claus’ is mostly white with some purple on the outside of its petals, which matches to the more saturated purple ‘Tricolor’. ‘Tricolor is one of my new favourites, with its purple, gold and white zones of colour.

Crocus vernus 'Striped Beauty' and Crocus vernus 'Vanguard'

Crocus vernus ‘Striped Beauty’ and Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’

Crocus vernus ‘Striped Beauty’ in the front and Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ behind make a pretty purple and white crocus combination. ‘Striped Beauty’ has a white background on the petals with dark purple striped running through them, while ‘Vanguard’ alternates between mauve and silver gray petals. I’m very pleased with the look of these two together. I have other areas where this striped crocus is combined with a dark purple crocus, but I would repeat this combination again.

purple and white crocus

purple and white crocus

A closeup of ‘Striped Beauty’ and ‘Vanguard’ shows how the colours are similar, with varying patterns.

Crocus 'Vanguard' 'Silver Coral' Yellow Mammoth' 'Striped 'Beauty'

Crocus ‘Vanguard’ ‘Silver Coral’ Yellow Mammoth’ ‘Striped ‘Beauty’

Here’s a section of purple crocus around the golden yellow Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’. In the front are ‘Vanguard’, Striped Beauty’ is behind, and ‘Silver Coral’ is the mostly white crocus in the middle.

Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth' and Crocus vernus 'Pickwick'

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ and Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’

Crocus can be very eye catching in a contrasting colour scheme of gold and purple. ‘Yellow Mammoth’ is shining in front, and another striped purple crocus, Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ is in back.

large crocus in garden

large crocus in garden

‘Yellow Mammoth’ makes a strong contrast to the solid purple Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’ at the back of this picture.

yellow Crocus chrysanthus 'Fuscotinctus' surrounded by other crocus

yellow Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ surrounded by other crocus

This combination has more yellow in it, with the smaller Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ in the middle. When the petals on ‘Fuscotinctus’ are closed, they show maroon stripes on the outside, but the stripes are not showing up well in the picture above. They are usually earlier flowering than the larger crocus, with only a bit of overlap in bloom time in the garden.

Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' 'Striped Beauty' 'Remembrance'

Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’ ‘Striped Beauty’ ‘Remembrance’

This combination of three Crocus vernus goes from light crocus flowers in the front to dark purple at the back.

crocus mixed in garden

crocus mixed in garden

The picture above was taken before my garden cleanup, so you can see how amiable crocus bulbs are about coming up thorough anything in the garden, including layers of fall leaves. Those long slender leaves pierce holes in the garden debris, and the flower buds poke their petals through, or the flowers just push the layers up like rakish hats, and then toss them to the side.

Crocus vernus .Vanguard' and other light purple crocus

Crocus vernus Vanguard’ and other light purple crocus

Here the sunlight is streaming through the flower petals, showing a delicate flower look, belying the actual hardy nature of crocus. Usually if it snows after the flowers have opened, they just close up and wait for warmer weather to open them again.

purple Crocus vernus 'Pickwick' and 'Yellow Mammoth'

purple Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ and ‘Yellow Mammoth’

The picture above shows how vibrant ‘Pickwick’ with ‘Yellow Mammoth’ flowers look together, with their purple and yellow combination. Crocus leaves look good, too, with their distinctive silver racing stripe down the middle of each blade.

mixed Crocus vernus in garden

mixed Crocus vernus in garden

This photo is  looking across part of the garden with lots of purple crocus flowers and some gold highlights.

crocus in garden

crocus in garden

The Crocus vernus are at the front here, and in the back  of the photo are some of the smaller Crocus chrysanthus(snow crocus). The gaps are where some perennials are planted that will come up later. There is a peony, some Phlox, and a number of Campanula (bellflowers). On the far side of the photo, the crocus are planted in between some hardy Geranium ‘Roseanne’, more Campanula, and under a lilac.

mixed white yellow and purple crocus

mixed white yellow and purple crocus

Here are more of the later crocus enjoying the sun’s rays. It’s a good thing that the crocus flower early before the tree leaves fill in and increase the shade in this garden bed.

pretty crocus in garden

pretty crocus in garden

In the front right corner of this picture are some Crocus tommasinianus that were fading. They came out very early, but didn’t last long. They were nice enough, but I wouldn’t necessarily plant them again.

pretty crocus

pretty crocus

The crocus really brighten up the faded fall leaves and maple keys that cover the garden bed after the snow melts.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral 'and other crocus

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral ‘and other crocus

I love the way that crocus enliven the garden so quickly as the last of the snow melts. Starting with the Crocus chrysanthus, and C. tommasinianus, through the C. vernus to the C. sieberi and C. x luteus, they provide so much colour in the early spring garden.


Bees Love the Early Crocus

Thursday, May 23, 2013 Category: Bulbs

There were lots of visitors to the crocus in May. We had an extra long winter in Edmonton, so the bees seemed to be enticed to the first crocus. Just as the bright petals caught my eye and invited me out to view the crocus, they seem to have caught the bee’s attention, too. I’m better at flower identification than classifying bees, so I’m not sure of the insect ID, but you can see there is quite a variety. The photos are from earlier in May.

bee on Crocus vernus 'Vanguard'

bee on Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’

Here is a bumblebee visiting Crocus vernus ‘Vanguard’. It seems to have visited a few flowers already, and has accumulated a good dusting of pollen.

bee on Crocus vernus 'Pickwick'

bee on Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’

Here is a back end shot of of a bee deep in a Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ purple striped flower. You can see the pollen scattered around the petals and hind quarters. In their usual position, with their head down and only the rear end and a few fuzzy legs visible clinging to the style, it is hard to tell exactly who is who.

bee in Crocus chrysanthus 'Prins Claus'

bee in Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’

This  visitor is going for the nectar at the base of a Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ and distributing the pollen around the flower as well as its body. There’s gold dust everywhere.

bee on Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth'

bee on Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’

Another fuzzy bee. This time on the bright Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’. It seems to be getting a good source of pollen and nectar.

fuzzy bee on Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth' flower

fuzzy bee on Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ flower

A bumble bee at another golden coloured Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’. Just as I was thinking that I need to order a bee identification book, Dave of The Home Bug Garden mentions a new bumblebee identification book coming out soon which I will have to get.

The pollinators seem to appreciate the early crocus as much as I do. These were the first flowers that I saw around, so those searching for nectar were congregating on the many crocus around the yard. Now there are  plenty of flowers in bloom around the city, but when blossoms were more scarce, the crocus flowers were a welcome source of nectar for them.

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 Category: Bulbs
Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth' bright flowers

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ bright flowers

I’ve been growing Crocus x Luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ for a few years, and am always pleased with how cheery this bright golden crocus looks in early spring. Being the last of my crocus to flower, it extends the crocus display time. These have been very hardy in my zone 3 garden. They are finished now, three quarters of the way through May.

Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth' surrounded by purple crocus

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ surrounded by purple crocus

‘Yellow Mammoth’ are a golden coloured crocus that make a nice contrast to the many purple crocus in the garden. The Mammoth name is a bit misleading as they are not that large. They are bigger than the small early Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), but smaller than the Crocus vernus (large Dutch crocus). When the sun shines the petals on ‘Yellow Mammoth’ open a little flatter and wider than the Crocus vernus.

Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth'  golden flowers showing slight stripes

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ golden flowers showing slight stripes

You can see the very faint stripes that are present at the base of the outside of the ‘Yellow Mammoth’ petals in the picture above, but you don’t really notice them in the garden, even when the petals are folded up first thing in the morning.

Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth'

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’

These are crocus are especially sunny looking, and really brighten the early spring garden. Here they seem to be bouncing the sun’s colour intensity right off of their petals.

Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth'  flowers with 6 petals

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ flowers with 6 petals

Each corm produces many flowers, so they make a dense carpet of that golden yellow colour above the silver striped leaves. Those newly emerging buds have a deeper orange colour before they fully open.

Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth' with purple crocus

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ with purple crocus

Their orange yellow color makes a strong contrast with purple crocus. In this overhead picture, the deep orange centre is visible on the base inside the petals. Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ is the purple striped one behind.

Crocus x luteus 'Yellow Mammoth'  yellow flowers with 'Silver Coral' and 'Pickwick'

Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ yellow flowers with ‘Silver Coral’ and ‘Pickwick’

Here are some of the surrounding crocus, showing how vibrant ‘Yellow Mammoth’ looks as a contrast to the purple. Just behind them are a group of white Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’, and to the upper left are some Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick. At the middle of the top you can see the edge of a larger group of solid purple Crocus vernus ‘Romance’. For most of the year, my garden colour schemes tend to be more subtle, but after many months of white winter, a vibrant pop of colour is very cheery and Crocus x luteus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ gives the garden a sunny glow.