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Is it spring yet?.....
By Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach on Dec 3, 2009
I realize that here in Ski country it's not always popular to complain when the thermometer plummets and your back is saying "enough white stuff already!"...we inveterate gardeners frankly can't wait for spring. How accommodating it is to have crocuses! I took this picture in the Rock Alpine Garden on November 15, just as 14" of snow had just melted. When the latest arctic blast melts away, I suspect these and several other crocuses will be boldly venturing where no sensible bulb has dared to go: namely the depths of winter. You see, we're in the middle of crocus season, after all. It begins in early September when Crocus banaticus opens up, with new species emerging each week through the fall (admittedly tapering off in December) but resuming by January all the way to April some years: that's 8 months when clever gardeners can enjoy a crocus (and quietly pretend it's not really winter)!
We grow dozens of species and selections throughout Denver Botanic Gardens, but this graceful imp with impossibly silky texture and luminous lavender chalices rates near the top in my book. We started with a single bulb in 1984. This proliferated and we divided it several times so that now there is a thrifty colony of hundreds of bulbs on the east side of the Cactus and Succulent house blooming for the better part of two months every autumn. This is one of the most recently named wild crocuses, only discovered by Dr. Goulimyi, a Greek botanist, on November 15, 1954, exactly 55 years to the day before this picture was taken! In nature this crocus is restricted to the Mani peninsula of Southern Greece, but it is very plentiful there and now in gardens across the temperate world. Its nearest cousin is Crocus laevigatus, which almost always blooms in Colorado between Christmas and New Years. So the crocus parade continues, and some of us like to pretend it's almost spring already (as we whistle in the icy wind!)...