Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Corm aboard; GARDENS with Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World Catch Sight of Beautiful Banks of Crocus and Other Early Bloomers and You Will Soon Get over the Winter Blues and Be Charged Up Ready for Spring

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Corm aboard; GARDENS with Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World Catch Sight of Beautiful Banks of Crocus and Other Early Bloomers and You Will Soon Get over the Winter Blues and Be Charged Up Ready for Spring

Article excerpt

WHAT all gardeners need at this time of year is inspiration - something to get us buzzing. A fine day helps. Sunshine not only gladdens our hearts and puts us in an optimistic frame of mind but it makes petals unfurl and flowers open.

A bank full of crocus, especially some of the more subtly coloured species like Crocus tommasinianus, can be almost invisible with their petals tight-furled and standing to attention. But once the sun shines, their petals open wide.

The inside of all crocus flowers, whether they be yellow, purple, blue or white, is always pure and opaque.

On a dull day their flowers are lost, merging with grass. If you get closer and examine the delicate feathering and subtle shades on the exterior of their petals, they look hand-painted.

It is not difficult to work out the reason for this split personality - when the sun shines, pollen ripens and there are insects on the wing to collect it and transfer it to other flowers.

Petals announce the fact there are riches within and further advertising is provided by the anthers of many crocus which are vivid orange.

Some also have sweet scent to attract visitors.

As soon as the sun deserts the sky, they wrap up their petals and, once again, almost disappear. When they close they provide camouflage - why tell everyone you're there when they can do nothing for you? Left to their own devices, Crocus tommasinianus and its close cousin, Crocus vernus, can create pools of solid colour. The famous gardener E.A. Bowles, after whom many crocus are named, refers to them both as "gatecrashers".

Whereas most crocus form only one new corm on the top of the old one, these two species make any number of small new corms on the exterior of the old one, so colonise rapidly.

Corms are flat or rounded stems. As the plant grows, the food stored within the corm is used up to produce leaves and flowers which, in crocus corms, develop from buds at the top.

New corms are produced on top of the old corm with goodness derived both from the old corm and the leaves, which increase after flowering and contribute nutrients as they die down. …

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