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Crocus ochroleucus

Crocus ochroleucus This modest sized creamy white Crocus with an orange throat may not be among the first rank of autumn flowering species, but its appearance in late October and well into November, when most other Crocuses have faded away, render it a useful subject for extending interest on a sunny border. It does particularly well on alkaline soils and associates well with late forms of Sternbergia and Nerines such as N. flexuosa and N. undulata. C. ochrolencus has certainly benefited from climate change. I recall the time some 20-30 years ago when November was a very sombre and foggy month and lived up to its reputation of being devoid of flowers, birds and bees. At that time its delicate flowers would emerge into the chilly gloom of the eleventh month and then collapse without opening. How different are the Novembers of the 21st Century! Nowadays a generous patch of C. ochrolencus can put on a really impressive show, equivalent to that provided by C. tommasinianus in February. This species is quick to multiply, when well suited, by the mass production of cormlets and for this reason is not recommended for planting on The Rock Garden or more formal borders.

Crocus ochroleucus albus Whilst variation is principally limited to flower size and throat markings, it is worth looking out for a choice and ghost-like form that is completely white in all its flowering parts. C. ochrolencus is widespread in the Levant/Holy Land where it frequents bare, often over-grazed or arid scrubby areas, usually on limestone. It is available from most specialist bulb suppliers.

Alan Edwards
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