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I was doing a bit of work in my garden today in preparation for the frosty nights when I noticed patches of leaves pushing up through the soil. Now I know that the climate has gone topsy turvy and I still have roses blooming, but this really took me by surprise, I identified the leaves easily, clumped together they were none other than the spring crocus that normally wouldn't begin to appear before February. I know I haven't planted any autumn crocuses as I keep a set pattern to my bulbs so that I don't dig any up when I'm loosening the soil.
The crocus is an amazing little flower that really does brighten up the dreary days of autumn and winter. Most people know them from the bright splashes of purple and yellow in parks all over the country but I bet you didn't know that these iconic British bulbs actually came from the eastern Mediterranean area and were introduced into this country by the Romans? Since then the Dutch bulbs have taken over and there are about seventy different varieties of the crocus.
The first bulbs to be planted are the autumn crocus, which should be planted in summer for flowering in autumn. These are usually the blue and purple colours although there are some lovely species of 'Tom Blanchard', which are white with purple markings. I think my flowers are probably the winter variety, which are normally planted in October or early November for flowering in late January to early February. The last type and the most commonly known are the spring crocus, the swathes of which cover large areas with there lovely purple and yellow flowers. These flower in February through to late March and even April.
Most amateur gardeners are keen to plant the tiny corms that produce the flowers in abundance with very little effort required. They are shaped a bit like an onion with a bulbous bottom and a tapering top that peeks through the ground sometimes amongst the winter snow. If you want some different colours most good garden centres can offer the small crocuses that are bred from a Victorian gardener called E.A.Bowles. He produced a species named for birds that include 'Bullfinch' 'Yellow Hammer' and 'Snow Bunting'. There are even some striped kinds that are a pinkish mauve.
The secret to success lies in careful planting and allowing them to make their own way in the ground. Plant about twice the bulb size in the earth and if they are a bit too shallow they will make their own way downwards. Most bulbs will spread and naturalise so allow some space for them to spread. I plant mine in clumps under bushes that are bare in winter but have leafy shoots in late spring. I also have some by my roses and in amongst my daffodils. I only hope they don't flower to early or there will be few left by spring.
I love these colourful flowers and their spindly leaves which add colour to my garden. They are so easy to grow and look good in any part of the garden. You can also grow them indoors or in window boxes so you don't need much room for a lovely show. When they go over just add a few summer bedding plants to the pots and they'll happily share a pot together.
Most bulbs cost very little. Expect to pay about £3 for about 50 bulbs though a special variety might cost more.
Thanks for reading and I hope you'll give these lovely flowers a place in your garden.
Crocuses are one of if not the most hardy bulb you could plant in your garden, they tolerate even the coldest weather and begin to grow as soon as the soil begins to defrost, mine began growing in december this year because of how mild it has been. It doesnt matter if it freezes or snows after they have began to grow as they will be fine.
You can get crocuses in a few different colours but the most common colours are white, orange, blue and yellow. I have got the blue and white in my garden although i think my blue crocuses look more purple than blue.
Crocus bulbs grow new bulbs at the sides of the old bulbs each year so you get a choice here, if you would like a clump of crocuses together you can just leave them and they will all grow back next year or you can dig your bulbs up and split them but if you do remember not to replant them untill september or you will confuse the plant.
You need to plant your bulbs about 2 inches deep into the soil and you can put them as close together as you like as they dont need a lot of space and only grow to about 3 inches high.
I havent put mine in the boarders but in my grass as the time of year they flower you dont cut the grass so they have died off before it is time to cut your grass again and look lovely. I tried to plant them in a spiral pattern but it doesnt look much like a pattern now as there are clumps of them as i dont want to dig holes in my grass to split the bulbs.
These have beautiful flowers and give a lovely splash of colour to any garden during the dull winter months, you could also put them in container tubs as they are not very big if you wanted to.
You really know when spring has sprung when the crocus comes up in the garden, it's a sign that winter is over and that everything is waking up.
You can however get lots of different types of crocus and they come in about 70 other varieties, these can be planted to open at different times of the year from August to April for a good range of colours and a nice display in your garden.
They can be planted in short grass, rockery's and small gardens. The crocus flower grows from a bulb and grows a long stem which produces six oval petals, the leaves are a mid to dark green colour and almost half of the plant remains underground.
There are so many different ranges of colours to choose from if your looking to buy crocus and the price range is also variable. At the boot sales expect to pay about £1 for ten little bulbs but at the garden centres you can pay around £2 upwards for a little bag of ten or twenty depending on which variety you choose.
If your looking for good colours then here are a few of my favourites.:-
Whitewell Purple - A lovely small flower which is light purple and has a pale orangey middle. It grows to about three inches high and flowers in the late winter months of February to March. It's lovely colour makes it ideal for planting in the garden as it can easily be spotted in the garden, growing to brighten up any long winter.
Blue Pearl is another variety I have planted in my garden and this one is a beautiful white with dark orangey yellow middle, you can also get it in golden yellow and mauve blue colours.
This again grows to about three inches high and does really well in pots, as well as in the open. It flowers in February to add contrast to the Whitewell Purple variety I also grow.
Crocus Aureus is just like the typical image you'd cunjure up in your mind of a crocus, it's bright golden yellow with delicate petals which open to produce the most stunning display of colour.
It grows to four inches high and flowers in March, I really love this one and it grows well in pots and outside too.
There are lots of other varieties to choose from, usually you'd get a picture of the bloom on the front of the packet of bulbs, if your buying from a garden centre so you can colour co-ordinate your blooms and time them to arrive from February to late March, which brightens up the garden and give the other flowers a chance to grow and bloom. This way you always have something on display to cheer up your garden display.
Crocuses can be planted in most soils provided it's well drained. They love rockery's but can be planted in borders and look especially nice if you plant them alongside snowdrops and tulips. They can also be planted in short grass and it looks really good if you plant just a few here and there to pop up around any lawn. This breaks up the boring green colour and makes it look like they have sprung up from nowhere.
They also grow well beneath trees and shrubs, as they like the shelter and warm. Plant the bulbs about three or four inches apart for a good display and to encourage them to survive for a few years. When the flowers have died don't cut them off or tie them back, wait until they have gone yellow and then pull them off.
You have to plant the bulbs about two or three inches deep, as they can get eaten by mice and some birds, the sparrows can damage the small young flowers so you have to keep an eye on them, if you have a bird table plant them away from it.
Apart from this they are relatively easy to grow, I love the spring and seeing them come up through the ground. It shows me that the long and cold winter is coming to an end and summer is on it's way.
They brighten up my garden.
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BUYING ROSES FOR VALENTINES DAY, DO BOT BUY THEM FROM CROCUS IF YOU LOVE THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING THEM TO. THEY WILL NOT GET THERE. I HAVE WAITED ALL DAY AND NOT MY GIRLFRIENDS DAY HAS BEEN RUINED. IF YOU ARE AFTER QUALITY PLEASE BUY FROM SOMEONE REPUTABLE, NOT THESE BUNCH OF COWBOYS. THE CUSTOMER SERVICE LINE CLOSES BY THE TIME YOUR "GUARANTEED" DELIVERY DOES NOT ARRIVE. I CANNOT CONVEY TO YOU ENOUGH HOW DISCUSTED I AM.
Without doubt to me the crocus is one of those things that confirms winter is on the way out and that spring is well and truly on the way. Or at least it always used to be! With the changing climate over the past few years this has rarely been the case and the crocus more than often brings false hope and disappointment. This year has been a perfect example. In the south east in mid March we experienced a mini heat wave that brought most spring flowers out into bloom. Sadly now in April we have seen a return to morning frosts and almost bitingly cold evenings reminding us that winter is not yet ready to leave us. There is no doubt that climate change is here to stay and that we must shed the traditions of previous years and develop new expectations to embrace positively the weather conditions that we now experience. Okay so things aren't as they used to be but this does meet that winters are no longer as cold and bitter and without doubt summer weather is experienced over a far longer period. To my mind these are changes that we should be positively celebrating and not looking back with rose tinted specs at the "good old days"