Northern Shade Gardening

Crocus sieberi Pretty Flowers on Petite Plants

Sunday, May 19, 2013 Category: Bulbs
Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers from above

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers from above

Last fall I planted Crocus sieberi Firefly’ and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’. This spring they produced beautiful blooms, and I would recommend either of them if you are looking for a pop of purple colour early in spring. Of the two, ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers in sun

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers in sun

Crocus sieberi subsp atticus ‘Firefly’ have a slightly pinkish purple colour, a little different from most crocus colours. They can appear more pink or more purple coloured depending on the time of day and angle of light. The ‘Firefly’ flowers are a little larger than Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), but the petite plants are just as short and close to the soil.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers folded up

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers folded up

The petals of ‘Firefly’ fold up tightly overnight and when the temperatures are extra cool. The ones above were from earlier in May when they were just emerging. We had a prolonged winter, so these early crocus were delayed by the remaining snow. They’d probably flower in April normally in zone 3, and much earlier in warmer zones.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' pinky purple flowers

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ pinky purple flowers

Here the ‘Firefly’ flowers were just opening to show their pinkish purple colour. The bees seemed to be waiting for the crocus to open with as much anticipation as me. There were lots of bees and bumble bees visiting the blooms.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers

You can see how even when ‘Firefly’ is developed and open, the blooms on these diminutive plants sit very close to the soil. I have these planted right next to a sidewalk, so they don’t get lost in the garden, making the pretty flowers easy to view. The larger Crocus vernus are behind them. All of these corms are planted in between perennials, flowering before the perennials have even poked out of the soil.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers

Crocus sieberi  subsp sublimus ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite of the two. The purple is a particularly nice shade, and the contrast with the yellow base of the petals makes a great spring colour scheme. I showed how ‘Tricolor’ looked in the lawn in an earlier article, but this group is planted in the garden. The ‘Tricolor’ in the garden grew a little shorter than the ones flowering in the grass.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers with yellow centre

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers with yellow centre

Here is a photo of the ‘Tricolor’ flowers from above, highlighting their well-defined golden centres. That same colour shows up on the outside of the petals and looks terrific when the petals close.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' with petals closed

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ with petals closed

The yellow base to each ‘Tricolor’ petal shows on both the inside and outside of the flower. When the petals fold up you can clearly see the 3 bands of colour, yellow at the bottom, a thin band of white in the middle, and a medium purple at the top. The markings are very distinctive and make them stand out in the garden.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers close to ground

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers close to ground

Despite being short, the ‘Tricolor’ flowers are very noticeable and make a good impact. They willingly pop up right through last year’s fallen tree leaves. I’ve been removing the winter leaf cover, so you can’t see the thick mat of leaves they poked up through.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers with yellow crocus fuscotinctus

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers with yellow crocus fuscotinctus

‘Tricolor’ matches up well with yellow crocus like the little Crcocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ flowering behind in the photo above. When the tree leaves aren’t out in early spring, this garden section gets more sun than in summer, so the crocus do well.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers open in the sun

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers open in the sun

This picture shows the ‘Tricolor’ flowers fully open and shining in the sun. With their petal edges touching, they make a decorative purple blanket leading to the smaller yellow crocus. I would definitely plant more ‘Tricolor’ since it adds a little personality with its contrasting colour scheme.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Prins claus' and Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins claus’ and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’

 

Here are some Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowering with the white and purple Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ in front of them. ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite of all the new crocus I planted last fall with its pretty flowers, and I plan on adding more next fall. It’s easy to slip groups of crocus corms in between perennials in the fall, and the pretty spring flowering display is worth the wait.

 

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’

Friday, May 17, 2013 Category: Bulbs

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ (large Dutch crocus) are a bright white crocus with a strong contrasting purple base. I find they make a nice bridge between purple and gold crocus, flowering after the early snow crocus. They are hardy in zone 3 and return after cold winters. I have had some in my garden for awhile, but the ones in the photos were additional ones added last fall in between some perennials.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral'  flowers showing purple base

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ flowers showing purple base

Here you can see the deep purple base on the goblet of the ‘Silver Coral’ flowers blending into the stem. I’m not sure of the origin of the “coral” part of their name, but you can see how they shine when the light bursts through them, which might be the “silver” part of their name. There are bright gold ‘Yellow Mammoth’ crocus behind them, and different purple crocus in the other direction. The white colour of ‘Silver Coral’ helps tie them all together.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral' with white flowers

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ with white flowers

The translucent petals give them a delicate appearance, but these are another crocus that do just fine in zone 3. Like the other Crocus vernus, they open after the earlier Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), while their bloom time overlaps with the later ‘Yellow Mammoth’, which are the last crocus to flower in my garden.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral'l with purple striped crocus behind

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ with purple striped crocus behind

These white crocus blend wonderfully with the purple crocus, and their purple base brings a subtle coordination. The hint of purple at the bottom is similar to the colour at the base of the striped crocus behind them. ‘Silver Coral’ are about 10 cm tall (4 in), just a little shorter than the other Crocus vernus, and the flowers are a little smaller, even on the established ones. The ‘Silver Coral’ flowers are about 3 cm (around an inch) across.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral' with Crocus vernus 'Pickwick' behind

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ with Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ behind

‘Silver Coral’ is paired with the purple striped ‘Pickwick’ here. You can see a few of the ‘Yellow Mammoth’ crocus that are part of a much larger group extending to the left of the picture.

Crocus vernus 'Silver Coral' with 'Pickwick' and 'Yellow Mammoth'

Crocus vernus ‘Silver Coral’ with ‘Pickwick’ and ‘Yellow Mammoth’

‘Silver Coral’ is winding through the other crocus in the photo above, joining the purple and gold crocus. There are lots more purple and gold crocus extending in each direction as well as behind. In early spring I’m always glad that I added more crocus the previous fall, as their exuberant beauty is so wonderful in the garden. The Crocus corms are easy to fit in between perennials, and add so much colour while the more timid perennials are barely putting up new shoots. ‘Silver Coral’ are a nice crocus if you are looking for a larger white one that has a little hint of extra colour.

There are more photos of Crocus vernus from previous years in this article.

 

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.