Throwback Thursday is when we look back in time and put a spotlight on one of our heirloom varieties. This week, with the strangely warm weather we’ve been having, I think we need to talk about the Crocus.
In years past I have anxiously awaited the arrival of the crocus. Rather than waiting for the groundhog to stumble out of his winter den to give his vague extrapolations about the remaining length of winter’s grip, I look to the crocus.
Crocus: Iridaceae Crocus sativus
This little guy in the Iris family is a seriously eager beaver in the garden. It is not unusual to find them poking their heads out of snowbanks and through icy drifts. Doesn’t it give us a little thrill when we do see them? I hear the angels proclaiming, “You have another spring! See our gifts for you?” Okay, I don’t actually hear that. I think it would be time to adjust some medication levels if I actually heard that. = P
I do love to see the crocus at the end of winter though.
Crocus grow from corms. They are not true bulbs but rather a swollen stem that remains underground storing all the plants need to survive the winter. The difference is were you to cut a corm in half your would find it a solid mass, if you were to cut the bulb of a tulip in half, you would find layers similar to leaves.
Crocus come in many different colors. I always thought they were purple, but no, they have a broad range of color. In actuality, the name crocus is an ancient form of the word for saffron yellow because of the stamen, which is, indeed, saffron yellow.
I think people associate crocus with the Netherlands, probably because so many bulb flowering cup form flowers seem to come from here. However, the crocus is more likely to have originated on the isle of Crete in the Mediterranean. They didn’t get to the Netherlands until the 1560’s. Huh? That’s interesting.
There are about 80 varieties of crocus. My aunt and I used to call them winter fairy cups. We were fascinated with these purple and yellow beauties. They vary in color as I have said but they are predominantly, lilac, mauve, yellow and white.
I hope I’ve brought back good memories of these cheery harbingers of Spring! I’m leaving you with Emily, she says it best.The feet of people walking home
With gayer sandals go-
The Crocus-till she rises
The Vassal of the snow-
The lips at Hallelujah
Long years of practise bore
Till bye and bye these Bargemen
Walked singing on the shore. Pearls are the Diver’s farthings
Extorted from the sea-
Pinions-the Seraph’s wagon
Pedestrian once-as we-
Night is the morning’s Canvas
Death, but our rapt attention
To Immortality. My figures fail to tell me How far the Village lies- Whose peasants are the Angels-
Whose Cantons dot the skies-
My Classics veil their faces-
My faith that Dark adores-
Which from its solemn abbeys
Such resurrection pours.
Emily Dickinson, 1858-#7