Crocus speciosus

Rodger Whitlock
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:28:11 PDT
Crocus speciosus is flowering right now, and the display is the best ever, 
perhaps due to the long, hot summer. Today it's overcast and the high color 
temperature makes the flowers glow like they are fluorescent.

C. speciosus presents problems for the gardener, however. The various cultivars 
of it are, I believe, completely scrambled in commerce, to the degree that I 
doubt any of the named forms I've acquired over the years is what it claims to 
be. One exception is the "alba" form, which is mostly true to name, but the 
stock is contaminated by a few blue forms, perhaps seedlings in the nursery 
beds. And one bulb — just one! — is a darker color, almost purple instead of 
the usual violet-tinged blue, with the dark color spreading down the flower 
tube almost to the soil.

Another problem is that the flower tubes of C. speciosus are very long and very 
fragile. While I have a stupendous show at the moment, the first rain will 
knock all the flowers to the ground. I've read somewhere that in nature C. s. 
grows up through low shrubs and woody groundcovers, so perhaps planting them in 
such a location would ameliorate their fragility in the face of wet weather.

Deer are another problem: they love crocus flowers and can convert the present 
display to a mass of flowerless tubes overnight. It's really quite remarkable 
how precisely the deer nip the flowers off!

Finally, this is one bulb that can become weedy in the right conditions. Think 
twice about where you plant it.

Regrettably, not one of my cameras is up and running so I can't provide a photo.
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Z. 7-8, cool Mediterranean climate

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