The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Wild crocus

wild crocusI glanced out of the sitting room window and saw a splash of pale lavender blue in the grass. We are lucky. Wild crocus have naturalised and spread. They were here when I came to the house, large pools of shimmering blue.

Just before I bought the cottage I passed its gate in a former Jalopy. There was a wash of the palest blue across the grass. Magical and almost unreal – like an illustration from a 1930’s children’s book.

These flowers seem so much more delicate than the standard crocus. They respond to the gentlest breath of wind and close up pencil tip tight when it’s chilly.

When the sun touches them they open like stars and bask.

It was warm today. Spring like and fresh. I forced Danny into the sunshine to examine a patch of wild crocus by the gate. He was thrilled as he hadn’t really noticed them before.
“They are beautiful. Almost regal.”

The spring flowering bulbs are small and easily missed if you are distracted by the world beyond the garden gate.

My mum first mentioned the crocus to me.
“They’re wild and quite special. I’d love some bulbs for my garden.”

Today she mentioned that her bulbs had died out. I reckon that they need to be left alone and hate being handled. They need short rations too. They thrive in dry, stony ground. A well fed border would probably kill them.

The grass in front of the cottage is also full of snowdrops, aconites and polyanthus. But the small sociable drifts of wild crocus seem so much more precious, their appearance is fleeting and their effect dazzling.

Today, driving my mum home from her first trip to the Daily Bread Co-Operative, we passed The Backs. This is where the River Cam runs beside the backs of some of the oldest Cambridge colleges, a glorious walk. The grass at the back of Trinity College was washed with the same, shimmering crocus blue.
“Look, it’s just like the cottage!”

My mum’s only brother went to Trinity. He was killed in a fire during WW2.
“I often think of him when I pass The Backs. And imagine him buzzing about. Those crocuses have been there for as long as I can remember. He must have seen them too.”

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sara

    I love crocuses. All types. I usually plant a few in a new place each autumn.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  2. farmingfriends

    Your wild crocus are beautiful and the post was a delight to read as always.
    My crocus are just single little stars that brighten up my garden.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Kate(uk)

    Thanks for identifying the crocus. Love the story of Mr Tidy.

    They seem to grow best in areas where no one walks. I think that I’ll move some into the back garden, under the trees.

  4. They look like crocus thomasianus-they are great naturalisers, very early, wonderfully dainty and, unlike most crocus don’t mind growing in shade, so will naturalise just about anywhere.I got mine from a neighbour we used to call Mr Tidy. The plants in his garden had to do as they were told. Daffodils always staked to make sure they stood up straight, their leaves tied in knots as soon as blooming was over. Every Spring he would dig up bucketfuls of willful Tomasianus that dared to multiply and thrive in his front garden- some even doing the unspeakable and growing in his immaculate lawn.One Spring I was passing as he was digging the bulbs out and asked for some. He thought I was mad- “you’ll regret that, they will be all over your garden”. They are indeed popping up all over my garden ,and that of my mother, and aren’t we pleased!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Joanna

    As you say, flowers bring a natural continuity. They are always there (depending on the season) and are a natural backdrop to whatever is going on. When things are especially good or bad they are particularly noticed and remembered. They are neutral and beautiful and because of this have the ability both to inspire and soothe.

    Hello Sally

    I’d loved to have met my uncle. From what I have gathered he was a very special man.

    Hello Toffeeapple

    The wild crocuses are a wonderful start to spring.

    Hello Michelle

    I hope that crocuses open in Oregon very soon. It seems like spring here during the day but it gets cold at night.

    The bees were very active this weekend.

    Hi Amanda

    We have snowdrops in odd places too. I love them. The ones from Debden are slightly different from the others. In the back garden we have a patch of double ones. I long for drifts so I’m going to divide up the bigger clumps this year.

  6. Beautiful writing, I the colour of the crocus too.

    We were surprised today to see some snowdrops have popped up in a scruffy patch of earth near our front door.

  7. michelle sheets

    Hi Fiona,
    I’m still waiting patiently for our crocus here in Oregon, but the clouds of them you describe make such a beautiful picture for my minds eye…

  8. Toffeeapple

    What a poignant story. And how lucky to have wild crocus.

  9. Dear Fiona, You write so beautifully that, even though I can’t see your front lawn, somehow I can. What a poignant thought about your uncle…

  10. I love the idea of continuity that this post brings – your mother’s comfort from crocus. Here we have carpets of wild snowdrops, tiny ones. They do transplant well. Also they pick well, provided you have tiny tiny vases for them. When Lucius was in hospital last weekend, we found the perfect temporary vase: the little waxed paper pill containers provided regularly by his nurses 🙂


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