From my childhood days growing up in Poland, I have developed
a strong emotional attachment to crocuses. I can still remember
the city lawns covered with these tiny beauties. The stunning
show started in late February, when the Polish winters usually
came to an end. As a girl, I believed there was a crocus conspiracy;
I often wondered how to explain the amazing coincidence that
all the crocuses bloomed for my birthday in early March.
One autumn in Canada, I enthusiastically planted more than
100 crocus corms in our garden (American zone 4, Canadian
zone 5a). They were carefully arranged in color groups clustered
together in a large drift. As a novice gardener, I couldn't
wait to see my crocuses in bloom.
The following spring, I watched squirrels voraciously feeding
on the sprouting crocuses. One particularly bold squirrel
used to enjoy its snack while sitting on our fence staring
at me. None of the deterrents I tried worked, so only a few
survived. I cherished the survivors, but didn't plant any
more bulbs for years.
Tomasini's crocus (Crocus tomasinianus 'Ruby Giant')
is one of the author's favorites.
My love affair with crocuses was rekindled when I received
a dozen little corms as a housewarming gift. I planted them
in our garden a few years ago in the fall. To my surprise,
they all sprouted and bloomed beautifully, and I was hooked
The secret to my success was simple: I planted a critter-resistant
variety. Unlike other crocuses, those species belonging to
the group known as snow crocuses, Tomasini's crocus (Crocus
tomasinianus), golden crocus (C. chrysanthus),
Sieber's crocus (C. Sieberi) and the so-called Dutch
giant hybrids (C. vernus), usually bloom ahead of spring
and are reputed to be squirrel and mouse proof. And they really
are, at least in my garden.
particular, Tomasini's crocus successfully combines exceptional
hardiness and stunning beauty. This species is an early riser
and blooms before most of its cousins, including Dutch crocuses.
Among several cultivars, 'Ruby Giant' is my favorite. Flowers
come in traditional shades of lilac to purple, complemented
nicely by orange-yellow stigmas, and occasionally have a touch