You know that the days are lengthening (if not necessarily warming up!) when you see the first snowdrops and crocuses. The delicate lance shaped leaves and goblet shaped flowers of the crocus with their stunning purple and orange colours, punch through the dark and dank days of late winter into early spring. Being some of the earliest colour in the garden they attract the attention of sparrows and other garden birds who pull at the petals but don’t seem to eat them; mice are also fond of nibbling their corms.
A member of the Iris family, the word Crocus comes from the Greek krokos and the ancient Greeks used the stamens (saffron) of Crocus sativus to dye the clothes of the nobility. Known today for its culinary properties, saffron has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It is said to aid digestion and circulation; reduce blood pressure and is a source of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin).