Alexander Pope's proverbial expression is what always comes to my mind in the spring when I see a crocus poking its delicate petals through the desolate ground here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We all know, only to well, that it will be well into summer before the local flora experience anything that resembles hospitable. But don't tell the crocuses that...what they don't know can't hurt them!
The hardiness and beauty of croci make them very impressive flowers. You would think their impressiveness stops there. Not so.
The source of saffron!
The worlds most expensive spice. And an awesome one at that.
Kudos to the crocus!
Saffron comes from the stigma of the crocus, the female reproduction portion of the flower which receives pollen during fertilization. Check out the MUN Botanical Garden's Botany 101 if you want to brush up on your plant porn.
I have read that it takes 85,000 flowers to get one kilogram of saffron! To add to the challenge, the flowers have to be processed between dawn and 10ish am in order to maintain the red colour of the stigmas.
Saffron makes an appearance in a variety of dishes in Spain, India, Italy, Switzerland, and Sweden. In my kitchen, it has only ever been added to paella. And thankfully, a little goes a long way! I bought a gram of it awhile back and it was $12.
You would have to know my front lawn to appreciate just how exciting this is. I am pretty sure my front lawn is the most southerly example of arctic tundra in all of Canada.
The croci are alongside the lilac tree I planted. Almost 30 years ago! And this lilac tree is still the same height as it was when I planted it. I'm not exaggerating. I am being generous, in fact, because there is a chance the lilac tree may be shorter!
I refer to my lilac tree as tuckamore, despite the fact that it is technically the wrong species to be considered tuckamore (evergreen species such as fir or spruce would qualify). My hopes that it would grow tall and have lots of flowers died about 20 years ago; now I just hope that it survives! Welcome to gardening in NL, and more specifically, gardening on my front lawn!
In the meantime, there are 5 lovely croci that managed to make it through the ground this year and I am going to photograph the b'jeepers out of them in the next few days, just in case they spend the next 30 years getting shorter, and shorter, and shorter....!