Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Early crocuses

Several years ago I discovered what a pleasure even the commonest crocuses can be when grown in the protected cold frame. There isn’t room in the protected cold frame for all of the crocuses I grow, so this year I planted many of the crocuses in an unprotected cold frame. The main difference is that in the unprotected cold frame they do not bloom as early. But they do bloom ahead of crocuses planted in the open garden. And the protection provided by the frame makes all the difference in the world. Now I can ignore the sparrows which in most years treat the flowering of the crocuses as the beginning of the salad season. And I can ignore the bunnies I saw hopping merrily around the other day – and I can ignore the deer, too. Hail, sleet, ice – forget them, the cold frame protects the crocuses from all bad weather.
Is it my imagination or do the flowers actually last longer in good condition in the cold frames? I think they do.
The crocuses with interesting markings on the outside of the outer tepals are more easily observed in the cold frame. In fact, when these plants are grown in the open garden they collapse into two main varieties on sunny days: the white ones and the yellow-orange ones. That’s because the beautiful markings are on the outside of the flowers; when the flowers open widely, they all look like white or orange-yellow crocuses.
Those with tender and exquisite colors such as ‘Weldenii Fairy’ and ‘Blue Pearl’ are more readily appreciated in the cold frames. Both of these are blooming today, and until today I never realized how beautiful they really are. They are simply too good for the open garden.
Here’s the list of familiar crocuses blooming in the cold frames today: ‘Gipsy Girl’, ‘Goldilocks’, ‘Advance’, ‘Snow Bunting’, ‘Lady Killer’, ‘Blue Pearl’, ‘Weldenii Fairy’ ‘Firefly’, ‘Uschak Orange’, ‘Blue Bird’ and ‘Whitewell Purple’. You can see some of them in the images above. From top to bottom:'Gipsy Girl', 'Weldenii Fairy', 'Lady Killer', 'Herald', 'Goldilocks', 'Blue Pearl', 'Blue Bird' and 'Advance'.

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