Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Johnny Crocus-seed

They’re here! They’re here! After weeks of watching gardens burst into bloom in warmer climates, I finally have a few tiny blossoms of my own.
White crocus and sedum
My son (then 10) helped me plant these crocuses back in 2004—our first Fall in this house. I worked my way through the flower beds digging small holes here and there. He loaded his hoodie pocket with corms, then followed me around like Johnny Crocus-seed, scattering kernels of future beauty as he went. (Every once in a while I can get him interested in a little task like that.)

We planted over 200 corms all together, of several varieties purchased at local Box-Marts. But as Alan Armitage so aptly puts it, “A crocus is a crocus is a crocus.” Most of them look pretty similar.

Still, for those who like to know these things, here’s what we planted. About a hundred of them were C. tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’.
Crocus 'Ruby Giant'
Don’t be fooled by her name: there’s nothing large, nor even red, about this Ruby. All “giant” means is that she is bigger than other tommasinianus crocuses. But what she lacks in size she makes up in vigor. Tommies are supposed to be the fastest multiplying variety of crocus. They’ve certainly spread nicely here. They’re also known as “snow crocuses,” which tells you something about how early they bloom.

Another 50 were C. vernus ‘Pickwick,’ a slightly larger Dutch crocus that has silvery-lavender flowers with darker purple stripes. The vernus varieties are supposed to be among the later-blooming crocuses, and indeed this is the only one open in my gardens so far:
Crocus 'Pickwick'
Then there were 80 of unnamed mixed species: purple, white, yellow, and striped.
I’m pretty sure that not all those original crocuses survived (Mr. Squirrel undoubtedly made off with his cut), but those that remain have formed nice little patches here and there. I’ve read that they don’t like wet feet, and it’s true that my happiest ones are in raised, well-drained areas.

Thus begins spring. It’s not much so far, but I’ll take it! Besides, big things grow from small beginnings, right? There’s a whole lot of hope packed into those teeny, tiny flowers.


  1. Yeah! I bet you are so happy to see that color. 'Ruby Giant' is a pretty one. I don't have any crocus and maybe I can get my daughter be a helper like your son. I bet it's fun to have that memory of your son when you see these blooming every year.

  2. The stripe one is gorgeous. Crocus is beautiful.
    I can imagine how your son and you worked in the garden years back. Today, both of you should be happy with all those beautiful blooms.Blossom Blooms

  3. Very pretty, I like the purple strips

  4. It seems like yesterday was Crocus day. Most of mine burst into bloom yesterday & today. I found one Crocus far from the rest; I wonder if Johnny Crocus-seed stopped by my garden last year?

  5. I love your crocuses! Wish we could do them here. I'm clueless on bulbs -- trying to coax an amaryllis into bloom now, but who knows what he wants??
    Wonderful that your son helped you plant all those. You know you'll never be able to dig up a dead one and toss it away, right?

  6. Hi, Catherine--Yes, it is a nice memory to hold on to, although my son didn't remember doing this until I prompted him about it. He did get a kick out of seeing this post, though. I'll bet your daughter would enjoy planting crocus, though they would look pretty insignificant next to all the other gorgeous things blooming in your gardens!

  7. Thanks, Lili! We certainly are enjoying them!

    Cathy--the purple striped ones are my favorite too. Glad you like them!

    Hi, MMD--that's funny about the far-flung crocus. It could have been Johnny Crocus-seed, but I'd bet it was Mr. Squirrel or one of his cousins moving things around for you...

    Hi, Penny--You are so right about the crocuses and a mother's sentimentality. We moms are kind of weird that way, aren't we? I think your amaryllis will do just fine. They pretty much do what comes naturally, without a lot of fuss and bother from us humans! Good luck.

  8. Hello Donna

    They look really pretty. I hope they multiply, naturalise many times over.


  9. Thanks, Rob! They're well on their way. And they're starting to open in the shadier spots now too. Spring has definitely arrived. Cheers to you to!

  10. Donna, your crocus are charming! I don't have any of the 'Pickwick' and I'm going to change that this fall. In fact, I'm going to buy bunches of crocus and hyacinth and daffodil bulbs this fall so this place will explode with color next spring! It's such a wonderful time of year!

  11. Thanks, Kylee--Though I have to say that your recent crocus photos were absolutely dazzling! I have to figure out that macro thing... Little by little. Every spring I think, I need to plant a ton more bulbs this fall. In the fall I am just ready to put the garden to bed, so I don't do it. If only we could plant them, say, in January or February when we're just itching to get out there and DIG!

  12. I meant to comment while doing picks but it's quicker to read, pick, then come back to leave a comment (at least for me, it is!). It is so very uplifting to see your crocuses, Donna...and how you kept track of all the varieties, and how many you planted, etc...
    It's something I haven't done before, but am now inspired to do after seeing how it pays off later. You'll know not only what they're called but whether they work well in certain areas or not, as well as how many actually come up again;-) Those pesky squirrels are eating most of my new bulbs, and I've watched them run off with big white juicy chuncks of them in their mouths!!!! I hope your 'later' crocuses sprout for you, to keep continued color going. I love the striped one. I have just one of those that came up, and I have a photo of it...that variety is gorgeous, isn't it?!

  13. And the best part is the memories you have of planting with your son.

    I call them croakies because crocuses just doesn't slip off the tongue very easily.

  14. Hi, Jan--Sorry the squirrels are giving you such a hard time with your bulbs. Aren't they infuriating? I kind of enjoy keeping track of the different varieties, though I don't always do as well as I like. Sometimes I get a couple mixed up, or my husband accidentally throws out the labels before I can file them away... But it is nice to know what's what most of the time. Those later crocuses are coming in nicely now, and they are quite a bit larger than the others--do you find that to be true with yours too? They are nice. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. "Croakies"! I love that, Grace! I wish I'd thought of that while planting with my son. It's such a "kid-friendly" name for them. He would have remembered that for sure. Hope you're enjoying your garden this weekend!

  16. I love crocus! Its so fun to see them pop up!!! I guess the squirrels ate mine because I don't have any this year!


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