Crocus can put on a great winter show

The golden crocus
The golden crocus

GARDENING: Readers' questions and a whole host of horticultural jobs from Brian Kidd

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One of the best late winter displays ever enjoyed in Portsmouth can be seen round about the end of February in the lawns around Portsmouth Cathedral. The wonderful display of crocus corms at the cathedral in High Street, Old Portsmouth was planted in 1999 so that the crocus could herald the turn of the century.

What a brilliant idea and I was really pleased to be involved in the transformation of Cathedral Green.

Dutch crocus are the best value for money corms. They are miraculous, only the size of a 10 pence piece and as thick as chocolate digestive. Every one planted will produce two or three flowers 
during late winter, usually at the end of February when we all need to be cheered up.

I thought it might be a good idea to suggest planting crocus corms because they can be planted in any garden in any place – and if there is no garden, they look great in pots or pans.

Golden yellow flowers are the most popular because they look like the golden rays of sunshine even on dull days. They don’t cost a lot and are easy to find at any garden centre and popular stores.

In the garden plant them two to three inches deep about three to four inches apart.

They look best when planted as a drift and they can be planted in a lawn, but the trouble is that the grass can’t be cut because the crocus leaves will be removed by the mower.

The edge of a shrub border would be better and a drift of crocus flowers could be extended over quite a large area. Simply fork over the area to a depth of four inches, apply blood, fish and bonemeal at a rate of four ounces per square yard, fork this in and plant the corms. Wow, what a difference that would make to a miserable winter shrub scene.

When planted in the garden every corm produces two baby ones on top of the original mother corm and this process continues for up to 10 years with great success. This means the displays will be even better than the first year’s display as long as they were planted in well-prepared soil.

Are you going to bring spring into your life?