fall crocus

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Thu, 12 Aug 2004 15:46:48 PDT
Well, Dave, thanks for gently correcting my ignorance of Oregon weather.
I'd fix you an iced tea if you were closer. When will I learn? But doesn't
it cool off at night? Over here in the pressure cooker, anything lower than
80 degrees F counts as cooling down in my book. 

And thanks for putting in some good words for Crocus speciosus. It and the
typical form of Crocus tommasinianus are my favorite crocus. If I could
have but two crocus, one for the fall and one for late winter, these would
be they. 

You have no doubt seen that Crocus speciosus is marketed with various
cultivar names. There is lots of variation in this species, and some of it
is horticulturally significant. Some cultivars have the reputation of being
late blooming - so if you trust your source, get those. But don't gloss
over the 'if you trust your source" part. 

Peak season in  most years here is mid to late October. Some plants bloom
much earlier, others are still blooming in early November. Although I grow
plants received as cultivars (Cassiope, Globosus, Albus, Artabir,
Aitchisonii, Conqueror and a few others), most of my plants came as generic
Crocus speciosus. 

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that we have fields of bobbing blooms in
late November. In most years there is a two week gap or so between the last
of the Crocus speciosus in numbers and the first Crocus ochroleucus around
Thanksgiving. But even then there may be a Crocus speciosus still blooming
here or there. 

And I certainly think you are right about its tolerance for moist summer

This species is ripe for exploitation: anyone who could fix a reliably late
blooming strain would have something many of us would like to have. And as
you noted, there is lots of interesting variation in the individual
flowers, the sort of variation which could form the basis for new cultivars. 

And maybe someone could develop a form with a shorter floral tube - that is
the one objection to this species with which I might agree. Although to
tell the truth, I like the lolling effect produced by the long floral tube. 

Friends of Crocus speciosus, unite!

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the Maryland monsoon
is doing its thing again. 

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