Monday, October 22, 2012

Three easy autumn blooming crocuses

Here are three crocuses blooming here today; shown here are, top to bottom, Crocus kotschyanus "my acuminate form", Crocus longiflorus and Crocus goulimyi. Each of these is well adapted to local conditions. Crocus kotschyanus is perhaps the most widely sold autumn crocus - and almost always the least expensive. However, many of the forms in commerce are not worth having because they either do not bloom freely, or, if they do bloom, they produce malformed flowers.
The form of Crocus kotschyanus shown here I'm calling "my acuminate form" because the forms of Crocus kotschyanus usually grown do not have prominently acuminate tepals (acuminate here refers to the points at the tips of the tepals). The history of this plant is discussed briefly here:

The second image shows Crocus longiflorus, a species worth growing for its fragrance.

The third image shows Crocus goulimyi. This species did not become widespread in cultivation until relatively recently, perhaps within the last thirty years, and when stocks began to be available there were complaints that it lacked cold hardiness. It's from southwestern Greece. As things turned out, at least in this garden it's probably the autumn -blooming crocus best adapted to our conditions.

These autumn blooming crocuses are a fleeting presence in the garden, and heavy rain can quickly destroy the flowers. But a patch of them blooming in a sunny spot in the late garden, especially the very fragrant ones, is an invitation to lie down, stretch out on the ground and enjoy the pleasure they have to offer.  

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