Monday, March 29, 2010

Crocus: Harbinger of Spring


Since I was a child in England, I have loved Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books. Her water-color illustrations and verses are delightful. “The Song of the Crocus Fairy” is the first poem in Flower Fairies of the Spring, and crocus fairies are pictured on the cover. Maybe this is one of the reasons I love crocuses and consequently planted so many in my garden.

I planted the four predominant colors: lilac, mauve, yellow, and white. There are many color variations and one of my goals for this fall is to plant more. Of the approximately 80 species and 30 cultivars, I have no idea what mine are, as I planted them way before I saw the necessity of keeping labels.

Here is the book that inspired me:


The yellow crocus in my first picture, is planted among purple ones. Its color is reflected in the yellow stamens of the purple flowers.



The crocus belongs to the iris family, Iridaceae. The crocus flower and leaves have a waxy cuticle which protects them from frost. Crocuses usually have three stamen as you can see in the photo below. The spice saffron is obtained from the stigmas of the crocus sativus.


Their history is interesting to me as I assumed they were native to Holland, but found their corms were taken there from Constantinople in the 1560’s. Earlier than that, they were painted on frescos on the Island of Crete.  (Yes, you guessed it: I’ve been reading Wilkipedia again).

More crocuses in my garden:




These creamy-white ones are my favorite. Today, they are, anyway.

I took an early spring break from blogging. As well as traveling, teaching gardening classes, extensive baby-sitting my grandchildren, and starting the spring clean-up in the garden, during the last several weeks I have been busy changing from an Apple blog to this Google blog. Wow, I am finding it to be a challenge, because Apple does not transfer, so I have done a lot of cutting and pasting. Thanks to the help of my friend Mary Anne of Stone Manor Garden (she is a computer genius as well as master gardener), I am hoping to complete the switch very soon. Unfortunately, your comments do not transfer. I am doing this to make the links easier for all my friends at Blotanical. Wish me luck in this new venture!

Hurray, it is spring at last! Enjoy the crocuses!

 
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2 comments:

Anna said...

Gorgeous crocus pics. I love every color they come in and yours look especially healthy. I do have to chase the squirrels from taking mine though. Don't you get that problem?

pamsenglishgarden said...

The squirrels don't bother my crocuses, but the chipmunks rearrange the bulbs sometimes. Thank you for visiting my blog, Anna and for your nice comment. I'll visit your site soon.