Crocuses. I feel a bit guilty about these non-native early bloomers yet they have been here for generations and pollinators feed on them.
They were already well established when Emily Dickinson wrote of them in the 19th century:
The feet of people walking home
With gayer sandals go-
The Crocus-till she rises
The Vassal of the snow-
The lips at Hallelujah
Long years of practise bore
Till bye and bye these Bargemen
Walked singing on the shore.*
The actual name of this stripey ‘giant’ early spring crocus is “Pickwick”. I picked Pickwick. Ha ha. Yeah, I’m not even cracking myself up.
When I lived on a small lake front I had crocus naturalized through the woods.
Keeping crocus in the dunes of the city is different. It is an ongoing battle with all creatures, great and small, that have adapted to urban living. Problems arise in fall planting where squirrels, theretofore unseen by me, watch and wait til I am done then when I’m gone they dig up the crocus bulbs. To their credit all food is fair game in Squirrelland and in their frame of reference it must be something reallllly good to eat or I would not have buried it in the first place. Argh. Side trip: It once took me a good week to plant a back yard of early daffodils. I’d plant. Go to bed. Next morning EVERY bulb dug up. I’d replant the same bulbs now lying on the ground. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Every day. I don’t think much of city squirrels.
Squirrels never eat the bulbs, crocus or otherwise. They have a good look at the bulbs once they’re out of the ground. That’s all. Sometimes they shred the bulbs. I dunno. Maybe they are checking for food on the inside of the bulb. They never eat, just destroy.
In the spring when the shoots start emerging a different problem arises as gangs of deer come into play. That never happened when I gardened in the country. I don’t think much of city deer.
If you have a warm, sunny, protected area you can get crocus to bloom as early as February. Out by our old lake home I planted crocus over the septic tank as the snow always melted there first. Yeah, there’s something said about my vaguely optimistic general approach to life in that action; planting a miniature garden over the septic tank.
There is a problem with early crocus blooming in February in Michigan (btw I’m in zone wtf it’s cold), snow squishing. Snow’s heavy. The flowers get squished but ‘spring’ back up after the snow melts, unless the bunnies find them.
Another reason I invest in early crocus is that crocus can feed early emerging spring pollinators. If there are any left. Even as I write I am giving more of my gardens and yard to Michigan natives in support of beneficial pollinators.
* Here is her poem in entirety. I actually found a WP blog post from 2009 about the poem:
#Lens-Artist: #Challenge #142