TOW: Crocus species

Diane Whitehead
Mon, 03 Feb 2003 18:51:53 PST
  I went around the garden today to see what crocus are blooming.

Longest-lived are a couple of C. chrysanthus cvs - Cream Beauty and a 
pale blue one.  They are part of an order of several dozen that I 
planted in the 1970s.  The ones in the garden proper have 
disappeared, perhaps eaten by rodents (could be rat, mouse or 
squirrel).  These ones have survived despite being in a spot at the 
side of the street where cars frequently park.  Now I think that 
perhaps they survive because of where they are.  Maybe the ground has 
been packed down so hard by the vehicles that the rodents go off 
somewhere softer to dig. Perhaps that gives a clue to how I can add 
to the lifespan of other crocus in the garden.

C. sieberi 'Hubert Edelstein' which I bought from Avon (in the UK) in 
1989 is probably the next-oldest survivor. I bought 5, and I still 
have 5.

I am particularly interested in growing plants that flower in winter, 
but I have found that winter-flowering crocus are not a very good 
idea in my garden.  I go to visit my brother whose garden is on a 
cliff on the seashore.  His crocus and snowdrops will be wide open 
and buzzing with dozens of bees.  I return to my shady garden, and 
the flowers will be shut tight with no bees in sight.  Later in the 
year, when the sun's trajectory is high enough in the sky that it can 
shine above my neighbours' tall Douglas firs and western red cedars, 
my garden also receives sunshine, and the spring-flowering crocus 

I had a few C. banaticus and tommasinianus grown from seed, which had 
lasted a number of years.  Two years ago our city reservoir was only 
about a third full because of a very dry winter, so all outdoor use 
of water was forbidden. Household water did triple duty - rinse the 
dishes, wash the vegetables, and then get carried out to water a 
thirsty plant.  I guess none of the water got near the crocuses, 
because I didn't see them last year.

Saffron crocus grew well in the garden, and I used to pick the 
"threads" each year.  I think the garden is now too shady for them, 
because they have disappeared.  Though, maybe they've been eaten.

Diane Whitehead  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter - 68 cm annually)
sandy soil

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