The amount of variety in the natural world never ceases to amaze me. There are huge organisms and tiny lifeforms; dangerous predators and gentle browsers; swift flyers and steady crawlers; organised colonies and solitary creatures; mighty giants and delicate threads. In yesterday’s Nature Matters I talked about the hammerhead shark, not the prettiest thing you’ll ever see. And, in contrast to that, today I am looking at the beautiful early crocus.
There aren’t too many flowers to be seen at this time of year. But, as well as the snowdrops which came up last month, February sees the emergence of several winter flowers – amongst them crocus tommasinianus, the early crocus. This has a paler colour than its relation, the familiar spring crocus. It’s also more slender and delicate, but just as beautiful in my book.
The early crocus originated in Eastern Europe so it is a very hardy plant and able to endure cold conditions. It is prone to attacks by squirrels though – so watch out for the little blighters if you are trying to grow some! The flowers are shaped a little bit like wine glasses (though very small ones!), and the petals are purple – ranging from lilac to plum coloured.
The early crocus is a perennial plant. That means that, a short while after flowering, the parts above ground all die off. But that doesn’t mean the plant is dead. Under the soil the bulb (or corm) lies dormant until next year when it will sprout a new plant. Individual crocuses live for about two years, but the bulbs can generate new ones – plant a few crocus bulbs and, in a few years, you may have dozens of crocuses in your garden!
There is something for everybody in the natural world, whether it’s the majesty of a sequoia tree standing tall against the sky, the excitement of a predator chasing its quarry in a race for life or death, the grace of a swan as it glides over a lake’s surface or the beauty of a crocus bringing colour to the winter. What’s your favourite natural spectacle? Let us know in the comments box below and we’ll write an article all about it!