Thursday, February 24, 2011

Golden Teases

Crocus chrysanthus 'Goldilocks'
Well, for a very short time, we almost had a glimpse of Spring here in the Flint Hills.  Every year, I carefully scrutinize my Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'), and also the locations of previous snow crocus for their first blooms.  And this weekend, suddenly there it was; the snow crocus that was nowhere to be seen a week ago suddenly popped up and is showing a little flirtatious yellow to tempt me into premature excitement.  One glance and my spirit soars and my heart races at the sight of the brazen little wench.  Spring has sprung!

But alas, the coy little lass will have to gather her petticoats back around her and hold on for a later opportunity because we are under a Winter Storm Watch and have 3-6 inches of snow predicted this afternoon and evening.  As is common for the Great Plains, we went from the 70's when the picture above right was taken to a daytime high in the 30's in less than 24 hours this past weekend.  And four days later, here comes the snow.

I don't even remember how I came to have these few clumps of snow crocus, but they're planted beneath my forsythia and, true to their name, they often bloom during and through the late winter storms for me.  Yellow always blooms first, followed by the white and purple. I also don't know why I have not divided these clumps or purchased more, since they are so important to my spring mental health.  I don't recall seeing them frequently in fall stock at the "Big Box" stores and since I purchase most of my spring bulbs in bulk in those stores, it could be simply that I haven't had my memory jogged about them.  However, I should have ordered some last year when I mail-ordered a group of Lycoris squamigera if I'd had my wits about me.  I must redouble my efforts in this regard.  The Snow Crocus that I adore (Crocus chrysanthus) are actually just the earliest blooming of four common Crocus species (including Crocus vernus, the Dutch Crocus) which are all sometimes popularly called Snow Crocuses.  And to confuse the matter, there are a handful of obscure and more rare Crocus species that can be obtained by collectors.  The Dutch Crocus blooms well here, but the Kansas wind rapidly shreds the blossoms, so enjoyment of them is a fickle possiblity for me, while the smaller and shorter C. chrysanthus are much more reliable bloomers.
Daffodil stems
Of course, another first sign of spring that just appeared are the daffodil stems beginning their push towards the sunlight.  As a less-experienced gardener, I used to worry incessantly about these on colder nights and sometimes kicked more mulch over them or even covered them with blankets. Wisdom and laziness now prevail and I let Mother Nature take care of these in her own time.  They seem to survive the frosts and bloom just as well without me as they did with me.

As gardeners, we like to pretend we have an effect on our gardens, but at the final measure, perhaps our gardens just patiently tolerate our efforts and hope we don't cause them more harm than good.

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