Bloom for improvement

PUBLISHED: 14:15 15 March 2006 | UPDATED: 14:36 12 May 2010

Crocuses in bloom

Crocuses in bloom

THE varieties of crocus which bloom the earliest are in my opinion the prettiest, even though their flowers may be smaller than the later so-called Dutch crocus, which are twice as large. Look out for the species known as crocus chrysanthus, as this incl

THE varieties of crocus which bloom the earliest are in my opinion the prettiest, even though their flowers may be smaller than the later so-called Dutch crocus, which are twice as large. Look out for the species known as crocus chrysanthus, as this includes some of the finest earliest named bulbs, such as cream beauty, blue pearl, and snow bunting. They emerge in February, alongside the snowdrops, with short stems and perfectly formed petals, which will open in sunshine to reveal attractive central stamens, and provided they are not disturbed, will increase into quite large clumps. This is also true of the early, plain yellow flowered crocus, which increases naturally even more quickly and this means that the little bulbs should be separated and replanted soon after the flowers have finished to avoid congested clumps. They look particularly attractive grown in grass under trees, or in shrub borders, where they can be spread over a large area. One other early flowering crocus is the variety called tommasinianus, which has narrow petals in the mauve colour range which appear before the leaves and will seed freely to naturalise under trees. These look very frail and yet came into flower in my garden throughout the recent severe frost, proving their real hardiness. The recent cold weather has delayed my camellias, which in most years start to flower at the beginning of March. The buds are showing colour, but need warmth to progress much further. Since my soil is alkaline, the camellias are grown in large pots and they have not done as well as usual, as there has been so little rain during the winter. It is difficult to remember that even if the sky is grey, the temperature low, and the daylight short, some containers need to be watered, as they are exposed to drying winds. The leaves of two of my four camellias have persisted in turning yellow, despite a dressing of sequestrene, so once they have flowered I need to give them completely new ericaceous compost.

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