Mike Smedley, our resident bulb authority, took these gorgeous photos of one of the bulb world's most notable late bloomers, Crocus specious. We typically see this fall blooming crocus around Halloween but Mike thinks that our October frigid snap pushed back the bloom time. He shot this photo, for example, this Thanksgiving week.
Fall-blooming crocuses are a distinct breed, Mike says. Typically the very last bulb to bloom, this unusual crocus offers gorgeous violet-blue petals with pumpkin-orange anthers, a combination that goes incredibly well with the tawny hues of late autumn. They send up their white-striped grasslike foliage in spring, just like “regular” crocus. But they don’t bloom. Instead, the foliage ripens and fades. In late fall, the flowers emerge by themselves. Thus, they need a groundcover foil for best display. Here, they thrive in a xeric buffalo grass. C. speciosus is native to the mountains of central and northern Turkey, the Caucasus Mountains, northern Iran and the Crimea, hardy to zone 3. So far, Mike adds, he has not seen any last-minute pollinators. It might be too late in the year for bees. But just in case, there’s a Thanksgiving feast waiting in the front lawn.