Northern Shade Gardening

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.



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.