Crocus Watch

Carol at May Dreams Gardens has once again been an inspiration with her post on watching for the crocus as a sign of spring. While some of the large flowering crocus vernus bloom later, with the daffodils here in Tennessee, we have planted some of the baby ones, Crocus chrysanth, shown above and in the following photos. A good number were planted the first year of the knot garden, 2000. Squirrels have plundered their numbers ruthlessly. Because they are shallow planted bulbs, the frost/thaw cycle pushes them right up out of the ground. The rodents don’t even have to do any digging to munch until their rotten bellies swell. Miraculously, there are still a few of the crocus left to give that first color boost of spring. The flowers are fleeting, opening on a warm day with a little sunshine to coax the petals to unclasp, a sodden brown mess with the next cold snap. Yellow crocus were also planted around the edge of the brick lined beds, but they must be the more tasty morsels to the squirrels, for they are now gone.

Somebody took a bite out of this one but left enough to give a cheering bloom when the sun comes over the shed. These crocus are so small, see how it is dwarfed by the moss growing on the old brick.

Walking around with camera at the ready one’s gaze turns to the Loblolly pines, Pinus taeda along the street. We had a fierce wind last night that accompanied a good drenching rain. Nothing like Lisa at Greenbow, however. These trees are notorious for their limb drop in conditions such as that. Let’s look for any branches that need tidied up.

Uh oh. Here is a pine branch right next to the young redbud, Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. Look at that terrible wound on the trunk at the far right of the photo.

This is not good, not good at all. This is the third, and final, attempt to grow this tree successfully. The first and second redbuds of this variety died their first season, reason unknown. Something is iffy about this particular cultivar. The native redbuds grow like weeds, literally, in this same bed. Several large ones have been cut down as they produce too much shade for anything else to grow underneath the spreading canopy of their heart shaped leaves. Their babies are still sprouting from seed dropped years ago. Planted in 2003, this Forest Pansy even bloomed last year despite the last killing freeze and subsequent drought. And now this. Bad luck.

This will be his memorial, leafed out in purple splendor in his final healthy year. Does anyone think the wound left by the falling pine branch is not fatal? Could there be hope of survival? Some tree wrapping paper was purchased for the damaged pyrachantha, would that help if used on the redbud? In the meantime, get out the catalogs. Let’s look at what could possibly take the place of Forest Pansy. Best to plan ahead is the motto at Faire Garden.


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15 Responses to Crocus Watch

  1. chuck b. says:

    I planted crocus for the first time last fall, and they’ve taken a huge hit from the wildlife visiting my garden too. Every morning I find a new divot where a bulb was. The few that were spared are sending up leaves.

    Too bad about the redbud…I would say it looks fatal too, but I don’t know.

  2. Frances says:

    chuck b…Impatient that I am, a replacement has already been ordered, edgeworthia chrysantha, do you know it? Blood meal did deter the squirrels one year, I forgot to apply it this year.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Gosh Frances that is a severe wound on your Forest Pansy. I don’t know. I would wrap it just for luck. It is small enough it might recover. Good luck with it.

    Forest Pansy is the tree just outside my office window. I just love it. It has been here several years. I forget when I planted it. It withstood the drought very well this year. I don’t know what to tell you about your failures. ??

    My DB and I had a round of pick-up-sticks this afternoon. UGH We had big sticks. We had to hire someone to get this big tree out. They will do it as soon as possible.

    I am glad you didn’t have any wind damage. My favorite hellebore is right under that pine. I hope it survives the removal. This is such a bad time of year to move anything. Impossible actually. I will just have to hope for the best.

  4. Frances says:

    Lisa…There is hope for your hellebore, I have found them to survive falling trees, in particular when ferngully was cut down. It set them back a bit, is all. Glad you are okay.

  5. kate says:

    Hi Frances,

    Those squirrels certainly like their bulbs. The Loblolly Pines look tall – I like the idea that a good windstorm tidies them up.

    Too bad about the Redbud. Its chance of survival doesn’t seem so good, based on this damage. Good luck with it!

  6. Carol says:

    You have crocuses! I don’t have any yet, still watching, still waiting. And with snow coming tonight, I’ll probably be watching and waiting for a while yet.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  7. chickenpoet says:

    I do have crocus sprouting up on my slope. They have the varigated leaves and are VERY tiny. I believe I bought them from a catalog the boys were selling out of during a fundraiser for school a couple years back.

    Luckily, my Feline Mafia takes care of any critter attacks upon my bulbs. I must commend them on doing a brilliant job of it. They are rewarded daily with chicken eggs (whenever I have any). I must give props to: Starr, Peter, Magic, Teresa Earnhardt, Sheen, Soldier, Surprise, Milo, Rascal Tadpole, and Queen Sabrina. Thanks to them I am looking forward to one heck of beautiful garden. My anticipation of spring is like that of a child waiting to open a table full of birthday presents.

    Much Love.

  8. Frances says:

    Kate…We could do a whole month of posts about squirrel damage. I will try and wrap the redbud, but have already ordered a replacement.

    Carol…Remember those crocuses are under there, biding their sweet time. Thanks for so many enjoyable posts at May Dreams!

    chickenpoet…you have a mighty army of felines. Our wildling Rondo doesn’t seem to be up to the task and Kitty is not out enough to be effective. Bulbs in springs are like presents, apt metaphor!

  9. brokenbeat says:

    a few croci popping up here at casa brokenbeat as well. they’re only the leaves at the moment, but i’m sure in about two weeks’ time i’ll find eager little heads sprouting. hot damn, it’s exciting.

  10. Frances says:

    brokenbeat…It is exciting, and January is over, soon spring!

  11. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    As the Redbud is such a lovely tree, I would give it a chance. If it fails to leaf out, then shovel prune it. Why is it that the damage always happens to the most treasured things or those hardest to grow?

  12. Frances says:

    MMD…The general rule here is give something a year to prove dead or alive. You are right about the bad luck of damage to something that was a struggle to get going, why couldn’t it have been one of the native redbuds, they are a dime a dozen!

  13. Pingback: The Forest Pansy Replacement « Fairegarden

  14. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I hate that your FP had such a short life. Ours did live a little longer. As a matter of fact the half we left standing after a bad storm ripped away the other half is still standing. Amazing. It still gets leaves and buds. I won’t replace it with another either. I will go with a Witch Hazel or something else. Thanks for the shout out. Have a great weekend crocus watching.

  15. Les says:

    Love means knowing when to say goodbye.

    HA Les, so true. But in the case of the Forest Pansy, it has healed itself and still lives and grows here, four years later. That is the way it goes, sometimes. Give something up for dead and it proves the gardener wrong.

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