photo: Crocus Speciosus Cassiope
Crocus speciosus speciosus. November 25, 2008

November 26th, 2008
Crocus speciosus

Dateline: 2008
I finally followed through on my resolve to buy more fall crocuses and purchased 96 Crocus speciosus bulbs from McClure & Zimmerman ($23.95) and planted them on September 6, 2008. This time I bought the Crocus speciosus speciosus which the catalog assured me was the “earliest autumn flowering crocus to bloom…” with a “profusion of deep violet-blue flowers”.

The first six bloomed on November 23, 2008. I’m not sure what happened to the other 90. I suspect squirrels. I did cover them with wire after I noticed that the squirrels had been digging them up, taking a bite, tossing them to the side and digging for more. Hmmm. $23.95 for 96 teeny-tiny bulbs seems economical; for 6, not so much.

In Adventures with Hardy Bulbs, Louise Beebe Wilder is enthusiastic about the autumn flowering Crocus speciosus. It “is infinitely worth growing, all its ways are seemly, all its forms lovely.” For color in the garden, she much prefers it to the saffron crocus, C. sativus.

The flowers of [C. speciosus] are distinguished by their remarkable (for a Crocus) blue tone–it is the bluest of all the Crocuses–and they are very large, the outer segments marked with fine veining, while the stigmata are conspicuous for their size, and the fact that they are divided into a mass of orange-scarlet threads. It is the first autumnal species to flower, and it is always startling when it comes bubbling through the earth, innocent of leaves, usually after a warm rain in late September.” — LBW

Dateline: 2007
Despite my failing to buy more fall-flowering crocuses, as I vowed to do four years ago, two little blue jewels revealed themselves among the orange cosmos today.

photo: Crocus speciosus Cassiope
Crocus speciosus. December 4, 2007.

In my garden, the autumn crocuses usually bloom, not in September but, in mid-November. I was disappointed when none did this year and thus even more delighted than usual when a late bloom surprised me today. Despite being described as the largest fall crocus, they are a tiny delight. I’ve never had any luck with the far showier spring-blooming crocuses.

photo: Crocus speciosus Cassiope
Crocus speciosus. Austin, Texas. December 4, 2007.

Dateline: 2004
photo: Crocus speciosus Conqueror
Crocus speciosus. November 11, 2004.

This one has different petals than all the others I’ve photographed. One is ‘Conqueror’ and the other is ‘Cassiope’. I know longer know which is which. When I buy more I’ll have to buy some of each and keep them in separate parts of the garden.

Dateline: 2003
One little crocus opened today, and four more promise to follow tomorrow. I must remember to buy some more next year. Even though, they disappear (maybe stolen by squirrels?), they bring unexpected pleasure every November.
photo: Crocus speciosus Cassiope
Crocus speciosus. November 11, 2003.

I remember telling a coworker once that I had planted 100 crocuses. He thought I must have a yard full of flowers. But they are only about four inches tall. It would take 1000 of them to make a drift that anyone other than a gardener, who is always looking for the little things under leaves and among the weeds, to notice.

photo: Crocus speciosus Cassiope
Crocus speciosus. November 10, 2003.

Dateline: 2002
One of the first bulbs I bought for the meadow garden was a type of fall-blooming crocus, Crocus speciosus. In the fall of 1996, I planted ‘Cassiope’. And later I planted ‘Conqueror’. They both bloomed beautifully in their first years and have waned in each succeeding year. However, every fall a few return to surprise and delight.

photo: Crocus Speciosus CassiopeCrocus speciosus. November 6, 2002

Today, five bloomed. I think they are the ‘Cassiope’ since those have yellow throats. They have been described variously as sky blue, pale blue, and aniline blue.

photo: Crocus Speciosus CassiopeCrocus speciosus. November 6, 2002