Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Crocus

No, this picture wasn't taken last spring. These are the little known fall crocus, Crocus sativus is the one shown. There are also a number of others. This one is good down to zone 5, likes to be planted in rich, well-drained soil and to be divided occasionally. It is native to the Mediterranean. This is the crocus from which saffron is obtained. It takes the styles from 4000 flowers to make an ounce of the spice. Now you know why it is so expensive. They come up seemingly overnight, no leaves visible (they were there in the spring, I think). The blossoms close at night and on cloudy days.

The next two pictures are of another fall blooming crocus. This first is Colchicum cilicium. They have very large leaves in the spring - very un-crocus-like - and then send up many blooms in the fall. They finished blooming a week or so ago.

This last one is another colchicum called 'Lilac Wonder'. There are also white versions, but most you find will be some shade of pink of violet. The genus also includes some spring and summer bloomers, but I haven't grown them. Plenty of other crocuses in the spring. What I really appreciate are these fall bloomers. They like moderately fertile, not overly dry soil in sun or light shade. They also tend to appear suddenly. One day a bare spot, the next a full clump of blooms.
Too much to do outside this time of year - weeding, pruning, weeding, transplanting, weeding ... you get the idea.
More when I get a chance.

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