In September, when the Sternbergias and Colchicums come bursting into life to remind us that bulbous plants have still a large part to play in the garden year, it seems as though we are already enjoying the best part of the autumn display.
So many beauties now burst open to please us, both delicately tinted like Crocus pulchellus, C. tournefortii and comparatively gaudy like C. medius, undiflorus, sativus and the bolder forms of C. speciosus.
However, one could use the phrase ’the best is yet to come’ quite happily.
In E. A Bowles’ opinion, the most beautiful autumnal species of crocus is the superb Peloponnesian Crocus niveus. It is such an elegantly formed flower, be it in pure white or in the delightful palest lilac form. In this delicately coloured variant the petals are sometimes uniform throughout and sometimes have the outer three slightly darker than the inner three.
Crocus niveus can be distinguished from other Greek autumn flowering crocuses like C. boryi by its yellow anthers and yellow throat. It is a beautifully adaptable plant. Given a sunny, well drained site in the garden it will increase happily both vegetatively and by seed. As a bulb frame or alpine house pot plant its attractions are even more obvious with the bright orange stigmas strongly accentuating the delicacy of the graceful goblets. Mary Randall