Tag Archives: purple crocus

Crocus Stamen & Stigmata: Photos

After following the commandment yesterday to, “Consider the Lilies”, I became more interested in considering the crocus, too. Emily called them the “vassal of the snow,” but today they’ll be free to worship the sun.

This morning I went out to observe the tenderest portion of the crocus, its reproductive element, the flower. While snooping inside this tender spot–early spring homes for gnats and bees–I did spy a few of these little creatures at work and rest.

The crocus is different from the lily in that its stigma is divided into three at the tip of the style. The lily’s stigma is a tri-bulbous unit; the crocus’ stigma is a separated threesome we refer to in its plural form–stigmata (Stig-Muh-Tuh). The stamen (male portion of the flower) is also different. The lily has 6 stamen, while the crocus has but 3.

There is a fall flower that looks very much like the crocus and is mistaken for crocus called colchicum (Kohl-Chick-Um). It is actually part of the Lily family (Liliaceae) and has 6 stamen as well. If you ever wonder–crocus or colchicum–just count the stamen–three equals crocus, six equals colchicum.

Here are my pictures from the garden from this morning, a beautiful early spring day–temps climbing to 65. The focus is on the pistil (stigma, style and ovary–female parts) and the stamen (filament and anther–male parts).

Enjoy a walk through my garden’s tenderest and most private early April places as the crocus slowly open themselves up to the day’s sun.

“Crocuses come up, in the garden off the dining room.” Emily Dickinson quote from a letter.

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Stages of a Crocus

This diagram is from A Handbook of Crocus and Colchicum for Gardeners by E. A. Bowles Ma.A., F.L.S., F.r.E.S., V.M.H. published by The Garden Book Club, 121 Charing Cross Road, London WC2. in 1955. I found this on a wonderful British site: Ivy Dene Gardens.

“She opens the paper wrappings,
hands delicate as a crocus unfolding
in the morning light. Little hands working
to part the frail chapter of circumstance
where histories float like clouds on an untouchable scrim.”

From, The Vistor, by Anya Russian

Here are the stages of the Crocus, in pictures, taken from my own garden Spring 2011.

1. Leaves push up from the ground.

2. Spathe emerges. You can see the purple of the flower cocooned within. This is like the birthing phase and the spathe is like the womb. It almost looks alien.

3. Bloom pushes out of the spathe.

4. Bloom begins to unfold.

And unfold…

And unfold.

More crocus in The Garden:

Karin Gottshall from her book: Crocus

To read entire book, click on link above.

I was in bed all day with the sun

and a heavy dictionary.
I watched the cat fall asleep
on the wove rug. Outside

a bird unspooled its song in wide,
round loops: drifting off,
coming back. Memory is like that—

words loosed like dust motes,
a dream I slip into: this cat’s
green-eyed mother, her grave

under licorice root and money trees.
Then come the angels of the afternoon
with their wings of flame.

one day language will unbind itself
from me—even to the barest
particulars: the first time

I heard the word crocus, the new
spring sun on my shoulder, smell
of mud—quick freshet
working itself free. At last
to release this word I
into the long blue currents of the sea.

And So, The Crocus Come


Crocus, almost like blades of grass, making their way toward the world.

My Crocus are pushing themselves up out of the ground. I’m hovering over, watching their every move. I told my husband, as we planted our fall bulbs, This is like giving gifts to ourselves now, we will receive in spring.

When you give a gift ahead of time, and let it go, you don’t know what circumstances will surround the recipient when it arrives. How can you? I wondered, as we planted, What will pass in our lives before the crocus emerge? Will there be trials and tragedies? Huge shifts of life? Or, will so little change that we barely see the separation from then to now?

At this point, I can answer it–I can barely see the separation from then to now. If you told me we planted them a week ago, I would not be surprised, even though I know they were planted last October. That must be a good thing.

I’ve written here, at The Garden, about the Crocus in poetry and symbol even when I didn’t have Crocus in my own garden. Through poetry I learned that the air can be heavy with the odor of crocuses and that there can be drifts of crocuses in the damp grass.

If you want to learn about the Crocus through poetry, please click on this link to last year’s blog post where I compiled all the poems about Crocus I could find, two of which are by Miss Emily Dickinson. There’s also a link to another post, the Crocus post for the year before that.

For 2011, the meaning of the Crocus, for me, is the gift we give without knowing what will come of it. Basically, the gift we lift up to the world and release. It’s investing in the future not knowing what that future will hold, yet looking ahead with hope.

Two Worlds
by Raymond Carver

In air heavy
with odor of crocuses,

sensual smell of crocuses,
I watch a lemon sun disappear,

a sea change blue
to olive black.

I watch lightning leap from Asia as
sleeping.

my love stirs and breathes and
sleeps again,

part of this world and yet
part of that.

Since we’re also looking at “form” this year. I want to include an analysis of this poem by Wendy Bishop:

“In the Poem ‘Two Worlds,’ Raymond Carver uses repetition vertically down the poem’s stanzas, repeating the word “crocuses.” Even though no other exact words repeat across the first three stanzas, the s and c alliteration does: crocuses, sensual smell, sea, crocuses and change. He links stanzas 4 and 5 with ‘sleeping’ and ‘sleep’ and stanzas 5 and 6 with repetition of the word ‘part.’ The s sounds continue in the last three stanzas: Asia as, sleeping, stirs, breathes and sleeps. The t sounds links together the lines of the final couplet, creating a sense of closure with ‘this and ‘that.’ Although this is a couplet poem, the sounds and repeated words ring down the lines randomly but satisfyingly. The poet is playing by ear–but with a highly trained ear.” Wendy Bishop, Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem: a Guide to Writing Poetry

The Promise of a Bulb

The promise of a bulb holds the same hope as a new baby, new love, new career, even a new pet. We project ourselves into the future each time we plant one. It’s hard to foresee what circumstances may thwart our plans: a too-cold winter, a colony of voles, the tractor that scoops up the earth and the bulbs hidden deep beneath; like life, it’s hard to predict what will happen after we plant our dreams.

Yet, some, if not most, make it. The tulip bulb that was accidentally dug up and thrown in the pit and, I thought, gone forever, bursts forth in a clump of compost. The bulbs planted in soil that was too hard, spring up from the ground later than the others, when the April rains have finally softened a space for them to poke through.

There are some that don’t make it, it’s true, but the joy for the ones that survived—returned to you, in a way—rewards our original hope.
We just had to wait, have patience, and believe that our original labor would be rewarded.

I put in an order today for my fall bulbs. I placed it with Bluestone Perennials since they seemed to have the best selection.

I guess it’s not surprising that, as my children are about ready to vacate the nest or, at the very least, be away from it more, I’m turning to bulbs. What do they say to me? The future. Making something others can benefit from, even when I’m gone. The element of surprise—a tulip springing up among the rocks or some other unusual space.

Every time a new flower pops up my son comments—you planted that one, too? And, he seems a bit amazed I was out planting these last fall. What lesson does that teach him?

Maybe it says, sometimes you have to delay the reward, but that makes it even better.

I hope so.

Here are the bulbs I’ve bought today to plant next fall to experience next spring. Each one holds a promise.

Firefly (Snow) Crocus

Whitewell Purple Crocus

Poet’s Narcissus

Mt Hood Trumpet Daffodils

Snowflakes