Saffron Crocus — Exquisite In Every Way

Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus with honeybee 2
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus 1
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus

Something new and vibrant waved at me from across the garden this last week–a bright horizon of purple, beckoning me to come near. As I got closer, an exotic perfume wafted out to greet me and drew me in like an embrace. The new saffron crocus have popped up and burst into little violet-colored stars!

And I wasn’t the only one seduced by these sirens. The honeybees were going mad for them, visiting each crocus at high speed as if they’d had too much yerba mate and this was the last pollen left on earth.

Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus with honeybee 1
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus with a very eager honeybee

I’ve been wanting to grow saffron crocus (crocus sativus) for many years, but our rampant gopher population gave me great doubts about its survival in the ground.

Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus in planters to protect from gophers
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus in planters to protect from gophers

Two years ago I dipped my toes in and planted a handful on one side of a raised vegetable bed, but they get disturbed there during crop rotations and didn’t bloom last year. So this year I made a firmer commitment and lined up some shallow planters out of gopher reach. (Just using some boards atop sawhorses, with the planters on top. It isn’t elegant, but is working so far).

The aspiring artist in me loves the color combinations of the saffron crocus — the bright purple petals setting off the saturated gold stamens and scarlet red stigmas, all atop the thin, sprightly green leaves. In fact this reminds me… if you love color and whimsy as I do, check out this equally bold and living-loud fuzzy pencil case in purple and lime green, which was shared by garden blogger Off The Edge Gardening. The post is called The Unforgotten. I love it! As one commenter said there, it reminds them of Sesame Street. (Speaking of which, have you see the Sesame Street documentary? It’s terrific.)

Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus they smell so wonderful!
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus — they smell so wonderful!

I ordered this batch of saffron crocus from Renee’s Garden, and they arrived in time for planting and came with instructions.

Additional growing tips came from Amelia of A French Garden and I want to send her thanks for her posts and years of experience growing saffron. She also keeps honeybees and shares about them and many other garden delights. Check out her blog!

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice (by weight).

Saffron takes time and care to harvest. It’s the world’s most expensive spice, and most of it is grown in Iran and harvested by women who make only $5 a day — a TEN HOUR day 😢.

Our first saffron harvest!
The very first days harvest of saffron from our crocus. I use long tweezers (that came with my sewing machine) to pluck the stigmas. Then I leave them on a paper towel on a table to dry. It’s hard to imagine ever having enough for cooking, let alone selling! This first harvest had some dew on the stigmas. I’ve been more careful since.
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus with honeybee 2
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus | That’s a lot of pollen on your legs buddy!
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus with honeybee 3
Saffron Crocus / Crocus Sativus | Wish we kept honeybees, as we grow lots of pollen plants. Alas, I don’t think we could manage anything else.

I hope our saffron will survive and thrive, undisturbed by rodents or squirrels, and multiply for future harvests! Do you grow saffron? Would enjoy hearing about it in the comments.

In other garden news, there is the amazing gift of rains we’ve had lately. So far we’ve gotten about 13 inches in our location, which is about 2 inches more than we had in all of last year. I don’t think we’ll be out of drought danger until we get around 25 inches or so (to refill some of the reservoirs), but the rains have eased the now-annual wildfire danger.

Looking out at the landscape, the dry fields are undergoing that miraculous winter transformation from crackly beige to a dewy, verdant green carpet. Even the seasonal pond has a small amount of standing water, which hopefully bodes well for frog-breeding this winter.

Season pond for native frog habitat. Thousands of tadpoles grow up here every year (except last year during the extreme drought, when the pond never filled even a little bit).
The seasonal pond–the source of the resounding “Frog Opera” during normal rainfall winters. Thousands of tadpoles grow up here. This pond was hand-dug when we first acquired the place. It dries up in summer.

Also, more coming soon on houseplants and an heirloom treasure received! 🌟

Until then, wishing you peace and a lovely garden or nature spot to bask in. -lisa

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6 thoughts on “Saffron Crocus — Exquisite In Every Way

  1. I love the way you have arranged your saffron in pots, They look beautiful! I think pots are especially good for autumn and spring flowers as they do not dry up easily. Amelia

  2. I love my saffron. I just dug up my bed do separate the bulbs. They must have multiplied into maybe 300 bulbs I am so excited!

    1. How fabulous! You are doing much better than I am. My saffron bulbs seem to have disappeared now! Perhaps the wet winter last year rotted them? Or could be our cat just keeps napping on top of them. 🙂 Am trouble-shooting it. I’m excited for you!

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