February 22, 2008 | Matt Cole, Director of Education

Cheerful Crocus

As I was walking through the crossroads toward the Boettcher Memorial Education Building, I met local garden writer Marcia Tatroe and her husband Randy photographing Yucca and Dasylirion. We chatted about the lovely day, and then Marcia turned me on to some Crocus blooming in the Water-Smart Garden. What a lovely cheerful yellow! It was perfect for the day and the hour.

As we looked closer, we discovered that one of the flowers was doubled: it had extra petals. Many people are enchanted by doubles, thinking they look abundant, effusive, and beautiful, but really they are mutants or accidents. Doubles can come from a change to the plants genes (a mutation) that can be propagated by an alert gardener. Other strange patterns might be either mutations or non-genetic accidents (caused by damage, disease or environmental conditions. Looking at it, how would we know? How could we tell?  

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