Snow Crocus Blooms - March 2023

We have our first bloom of the year:  an inherited (and...I'm pretty SURE naturalized) Snow Crocus.  The purple petals stand out against the brown mulch and other decaying matter in the far back of our yard.  You'll notice some green tips in the photo below.  What are those?  Pretty sure they're Wild Onions.  But, I'm not letting those rain on my parade here.  Snow Crocus (Crocus sieberi) is here for just a brief bit - a Spring Ephemeral.

Snow Crocus Blooming in Late Winter - Zone 5b - Northern Illinois Garden

I haven't posted about this Snow Crocus on the blog, but I know it has been here since we moved in to Downers Grove.  Not sure how it got here, but glad it is here.  

This U of I extension explainer is a pretty good read on Snow Crocuses.  From Ryan Pankau who writes the Garden Scoop Blog says that Snow Crocus is the first sign of Spring in his yard.  And, he talks about how they arrived:

So, how did this beauty of spring wind up randomly dispersed across our yard? They have come to occupy my yard (and many others in North America) through a process called naturalization. Although snow crocus are native to the Balkan Peninsula in Europe, our area provides a climate, soils, and other factors that are also favorable growing conditions for this non-native plant. In fact, following human introduction of crocus as an ornamental plant, it has been able to reproduce naturally in much of the United States, spanning USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 8. There are over 30 species of crocus cultivated as ornamental plants in the US.

By definition, naturalized plants are non-native plants that are introduced to a new geographic area and are able to grow and reproduce without human intervention, but do not threaten our native ecosystems due to invasive habits.
I've talked a few times about Spring Ephemerals and how as I've gotten to know them a little bit, I have been more and more interested in having them around.  Our neighbor has a colony of Virginia Bluebells that has naturalized in one of their beds and has migrated under the fence to have a little patch in one of my beds.  In fact, I included a mention of Spring Ephemerals on my 2022 to-do list - that I should repeat this year.  

I see that Longfield Gardens offers crocus bulbs - they're mostly sold out now - but maybe something to think about this Fall - instead of what I usually plant:  allium and tulip bulbs.  


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