For the last few days I’ve been driving south, from Montreal to South Carolina. I was expecting the days to get warmer and they have, but not by much. Along the Skyline Drive in Virginia, snow was very evident, up close …
… and in the distance.
Seeing so much snow was discouraging when I thought I’d left it behind. But at an overnight stop along the way, I saw a sign that the temperatures were rising, and that spring really was on its way.
Crocus are, to me, the quintessential sign that warmer weather is on its way, even though at Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, they don’t begin to bloom until April. And although April is still months away, in anticipation I’m savouring the prospect.
Over the years I’ve planted thousands of crocus. I don’t plant them in the garden itself because I prefer to see them pushing up through ground that looks partly frozen.
Each fall I scatter bulbs across sections of lawn in large groups that I know will catch the eye from a distance. And each year, the groups grow larger.
I particularly like to look at the flowers up close, whether they are white …
or purple …
Generally I mix the colours and varieties of crocus when I plant them, and I usually plant 350 or more every year.
Unlike my friend Kathy Purdy who is an expert on autumn crocus, or colchicums, (Kathy writes at www.coldclimategardening, a blog I recommend for anyone who gardens in a cool or cold zone), I plant only spring blooming crocus. Of these, I prefer the taller varieties that grow 4-6 inches rather than the shorter ones that max out at 3-4 inches. This is because I plant the bulbs in thick grass and I want the flowers to show as much as possible. Which they do, particularly when the sun shines through their petals.
Lit by the spring sun, each blossom shines, as if a fire is burning inside it.
For some years I resisted planting white crocus. I’d seen enough white snow and I wanted colour. But white bulbs add punch to the other colours so now I mix in a good percentage of white.
Each colour has its charms. The yellow varieties provide a good contrast to grass that only greens up slowly. In contrast to their sturdiness, the delicacy of this lilac crocus is hard to beat.
I like all the colours, but the yellow crocus remain my top choice. What’s not to like about a colour so warm and cheerful? And that’s what I need after a long hard winter, a touch of sunshine.
What about you? What flower do you look forward to in the spring?