Crocus chrysanthus

E.A. Bowles, known as ‘King of the crocuses’, who published his magical My Garden trilogy in 1914, said that Crocus chrysanthus was his favourite of them all: ‘One of the small-flowered species, it produces so lavishly that a few corms give a solid-colour effect in full bloom.’ It is splendid in troughs, where its delicate beauty can be closely observed. Grow it in a gritty compost.

The species grows wild in Greece and Asia Minor, a somewhat globular golden flower usually flecked or feathered with dark purple on the outside. But the excitement of C. chrysanthus is the multitude of varying seedlings to which it has given birth, usually slightly larger than the species, varying in colour from cream to deep orange, with delightful feathered markings at the base of the petals, on the outside. Both amateurs and nurserymen have selected and sorted these seedlings over the years, so that many are listed in the catalogues. ‘E.A. Bowles’ is butter yellow, feathered in bronze. ‘E.P. Bowles’ is deeper in colour, and the feathering is more clearly marked. They flower in early spring, well before the large Dutch crocuses which make such a fine show in our parks.

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