Crocus tommasinianus

One day Mr E. A. Bowles, plantsman extraordinary and crocus expert of the century, woke up with a raging tooth-ache, went out into the garden, and saw a sea of Crocus tommasinianus in full bloom. Such was his delight that the toothache vanished.

This charming crocus species, a native of Dalmatia, has lavender-blue flowers with bright gold stamens, the inner petals a little darker than the outer ones. It flowers in early spring, before the larger Dutch hybrids, and is the perfect crocus for naturalizing. It clumps up quickly and seeds everywhere, in turf, in beds, even in paving. In the first year, when just one or two flowers emerge from every bulb, wind and rain can knock them about, but do not be dismayed. Somehow, when clumps are formed with many flowers to each, they seem to hold each other up. There is a dark violet variety called ‘Whitewell Purple’ and a few drifts grown among the paler crocuses will make a rich pattern in a sunny stretch of turf. Plant the bulbs 3 inches (7.5 cm) deep, not too near together, leaving room for the clumps to develop.

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