Wanstead’s wild crocus meadow

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Wanstead’s guerrilla gardener Marian Temple writes:

“Over sixty years ago, my mother planted the first few corms of crocus thomassianus in the garden of the house at the bottom of Grove Park. Our family had just moved there. I don’t know how she found out about them or where she got them from, but these little crocuses are a species that is wild, probably originating in Turkey. They haven’t been hybridised for a different colour or a larger flower, and since they are the real thing, the seeds will germinate and left to their own devices they will form a carpet flowering from mid January until the end of February, the very first of the spring flowers. It doesn’t take 60 years to get this carpet. It happens after just a few.

Every year this magic carpet amazes me. They are in the grass, the flower beds and creeping up in cracks in the paving. On a day of spring sunshine they are fully open revealing their orange interiors, and the carpet is alive with bees. The sight of them is food for the soul.

Just like the winter irises, these are making their way around Wanstead with a bit of help from the Wanstead Community Gardeners. They should be premiering in the Church Garden, popping up in the station beds, appearing on the Island and the Cherry Pie Beds (traffic roundabout and accompanying bed between the George and Wanstead Station) and of course, they are in the Corner House Garden sprinkled around with a particularly happy clump coming up in the hollow tree stump near the tree.

We will of course be spreading them around more. The narcissi and primroses in Wanstead Place along the fence of the wide grass verge could probably do with some thomassianas. In fact any patch that gets spring sunshine in Jan and Feb would be a good host for them.

Like most of the stuff we plant, they are totally undemanding if put in the right place and will come up every year. How delighted would Hilda Temple have been to know that her modest thomassianas were giving so much delight to so many people.

Oh, by the way, do take a trundle in Wanstead Place along the concrete palisade fence (councilspeak for that sort of concrete picket fence around Christ Church Green). Where the wide grass verge is, tucked beside the fence the little narcissi given us by Maz and Trevor of Heads and Tails and planted by the Wanstead Society some years ago are blooming their trumpets off.

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You can find out more about the work of the Wanstead Community Gardeners on their web pages here.

Wansteadium reader Ron Jeffries comments:


Hi Wanstead Community Gardeners
When I travel from my home to go into London, I use the 66 bus to Wansted Station – there are escalators there which save a long walk at Newbury Park! I always look at the garden you have created there – and this week it is in full bloom as you will see here. Well done for making a dull corner bright with spring! Thanks for all your hard work. 



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