I have many in my garden: deep purple and profligate Crocus tommasinianus, purest yellow C. chrysanthus, pale violet hybrids of uncertain descent.
But the most beautiful crocus in my garden is one which I only planted for the first time last year, despite many years of coveting its silky white blooms. I now wouldn’t be without it.
C. chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’ was bred by the legendary E. A. Bowles, who was something of a crocus buff in his time and produced about 14 hybrids, all named after birds. Most can be found in the National Collection, held at Myddleton House in Enfield.
I have a dozen ‘Snow Bunting’ in a deep blue ceramic container just outside my back door, rather fancifully planted with some dark bruise-coloured pansies in a vague sort of black-and-white concoction.
Never mind the cliché: it looks utterly fabulous and has me smiling every time I walk out the door. Even when the sun isn’t out (i.e. most of the time) the crocuses still look elegant with threads of purple running up the outsides of their closed buds.
But the other morning, the sun came out and hit them full on. I think the only things more excited about it than me were the bees: they couldn’t get enough of those joyous butter-yellow throats. And nor could I. The scent filled the air – I’ve always had to get down on my hands and knees for that exquisite perfume before, but not this time.
It’s moments like this that spring was invented for.