I don’t think crocuses or snowdrops would be nearly as beautiful if they were planted in a neatly prepared bed. It is their juxtaposition with the dead and decaying matter of last season that gives them their real power as the harbingers of Spring. To see a crocus or snowdrop push its way to the top of a thick layer of dead leaves and then unfurl its colorful or snow-white petals is to announce to the world that a new season of growth has begun. It’s out with the old and in with the new. They are the yearly reminder that a fresh start is indeed possible. Here are a few images that I captured this week with my iPhone as I traveled around the garden.
One particular Crocus has been in the news a lot lately. The dried red stigmas of Crocus sativus is the source for the spice Saffron. In an effort to curb the opium trade at the source, many governments are trying to encourage farmers in places like Afghanistan, where the dry climate is perfect for growing Crocus sativus, to turn over their lucrative fields of opium poppies to the growth and cultivation of saffron. It is the one crop that can come close to demanding the high prices that the opium growers are accustomed to. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world commanding prices of $2,000 to $3,000 per kilogram. Its cost is so high because it takes around 80,000 plants to produce a single ounce of saffron.