Stillwater News Press


February 4, 2012

In the Garden 02-05-12

Many of you may have noticed last summer’s extreme heat sending trees, shrubs and flowers into dormancy.

I knew the physiological functions of the plants had ceased for the most part as flora struggled to stay alive, but did not see the full picture until I saw Bradford pears, lilacs and even my crocus blooming in October. I guess plants have one agenda, regardless of the season; when coming out of dormancy, bloom.

When I think of early flowering bulbs, crocuses are inevitably the first flower to come to mind — they bloom so early in fact, they are often pictured surrounded by melting snow. Whether I get to see a repeat performance from those that jumped the gun remains to be seen.

Crocus vernus (most garden varieties are of this species) is native to southern Europe, Asia and the Middle East; no known species hail from the Americas. Coming from the cradle of civilization, this bulb has been acknowledged in art and literature for thousands of years. Saffron, pollen from the stigmata of Crocus sativus, was and is an important commodity in many parts of the world.

Mythology cloaks crocus with a common theme of lost love and tragedy manifesting in flower form, but crocus bears another account concerning Valentine, a Christian physician of the third century, jailed for his religious beliefs. Valentine treated, befriended and loved the blind daughter of a jailer. Walking on pleasant days, they would pluck crocuses from the field to take to her father.

Being prepared for execution on Feb. 14, Valentine wrote a note to his beloved, adding a pressed crocus blossom to the message. When the girl opened the card, the flower fell out and miraculously her sight was restored. (This Valentine is only one of three men from which our modern celebrations of Feb. 14 may stem.)

While writers like Homer, Emily Bronte and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow have honored this small, open-cupped flower in timeless verse, gardeners like you and me honor it by including it in our plantings. Hardy in USDA Zones 3-8, crocus is generally planted in fall. It is wonderful for naturalizing, but foliage should be allowed to naturally yellow (a six-week process) before cutting or mowing plantings.

In the language of flowers, crocus signifies the gladness of youth, mirth and hope; is that not how gardeners feel in spring? If you are a gardener and are not feeling the excitement of another season about to unfold, maybe you need to plant some crocus.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Grow! 07-20-14

    Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and landscape. They come in a variety of colors that enhance your yard. However, like other plants, roses are susceptible to disease. One that seems to hit roses the hardest is rose rosette disease caused by the rose rosette virus.

    July 19, 2014

  • Seed to Table 07-20-14

    Weed control is an important part of food production. So, I recently undertook an effort to rid my pastures of a particularly noxious weed.

    July 19, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-20-14

    Mulch is full of purpose. What it lacks in mystery, it makes up in function. Mulch contributes to healthy gardens. No one ponders or debates it, yet many do not take the time to mulch.

    July 19, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-17-14

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    July 17, 2014

  • Grow! 07-13-14

    If you have no space outdoors for a garden, don’t despair because you can still grow something consumable. Bean sprouts are the easiest and fastest crop to grow.

    July 13, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-13-14

    “Where’s the relief?” That is what I’ve been thinking all week in the garden. I water, wondering if the mist is going to cool or cook the plants. I assumed the last thing anyone would consider this week is planting — anything!

    July 13, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-10-14

    What’s at market this week?
    Fruits and veggies: Bell peppers, beets, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, jalapenos, leeks, new potatoes, onions, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon
    Baked goods: Biscotti, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins, pies, scones and turnovers

    July 10, 2014

  • Grow! 07-06-14

    Sometimes it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone. This is true for clothing selection, restaurant choices and even the types of plants and shrubs you put in your landscape.

    July 5, 2014

  • Seed to Table 07-06-14

    One bright spot on the farm this spring is the vegetable garden. Because I was able to irrigate, it is thriving. We are at the height of the spring harvest period; and so far I have harvested the beets, carrots, onions, and cabbage – and will soon start on the potatoes.

    July 5, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-06-14

    This week I enjoyed seeing a boy in his swim trunks reveling in the rain as only children do. What joy! Summer brings plans for vacations, water fun, corn-on-the-cob and fireworks as Americans celebrated our declaration of independence from England’s rule.

    July 5, 2014

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'
Must Read