These colourful beauties will fill your garden with the joys of spring
Vibrant splashes of colour are a spirit-lifting treat in the depths of winter, and nothing delivers it quite so early and potently as crocus. While snowdrops beguile with their nodding blossoms, crocus ramp up the ante with an astonishing jewel box of colour that’s just as impressive from a distance as it is up close. Some varieties are also scented, delectable in the air if planted in clumps or, if you have space, drifts.
Now’s the time to order and plant corms in readiness for the display, which starts in February. Most crocus prefer full sun, in moist, well-drained soil that doesn’t become waterlogged in winter. Alongside the edges of pathways, gravel driveways and borders is ideal. Take care not to plant them where they become continually shaded or overgrown by other perennial plants, or they’ll gradually fade away. They’ll grow through low-carpeting plants and alpines and also look good in rock gardens. They also make excellent displays in shallow pans or troughs. Plant corms about 5cm (2in) apart and 5-10cm (2-4in) deep, avoiding aligning them with geometrical precision to give a more natural effect. You can mix varieties to produce combinations of colour, or a succession of blooms as the early varieties give way to later-flowering types. After they’ve flowered allow the linear, white-banded leave to wither away naturally, finally disappearing by May. Once established some species will happily self-seed to make your displays even more effective over the years.