One of the best investments I’ve made in my garden is to plant plenty of crocuses, especially the early, golden yellow ‘Ancyrensis’, which you see above with the white ‘Ard Schenk’ (I buy most of my crocuses as named varieties online from Gardenimport, although I do purchase some unnamed ones in packages at local nurseries). ‘Ancyrensis’ I especially love because it’s bright, it’s early and it multiplies–it usually blooms in my garden about March 11, although this year the snow cover kept them hidden for another week or so, and it keeps coming back in larger patches year after year. Crocuses are a godsend when you’re weary of winter. One day you’re despairing that it will never end, and then the next week, usually after a few days of mild weather and a light rain, the crocuses pop up and make you sing. Bellow is ‘Ard Schenk’ (named after a Dutch speed skater) in closeup, popping up through last fall’s dead leaves and stems. It glows almost transparently in the sun, and with its golden stamens it looks wonderful with ‘Ancyrensis’. But then so does any variety of purple crocus. I don’t know if the one below has a cultivar name because it’s been growing in my garden for several years. I guess I should count myself lucky that most of the neighbourhood squirrels haven’t discovered my front garden yet and dug them all up–they love the more-protected back garden, where planting tulips is an exercise in frustration. The purple striped crocus varieties may be less showy but they are a lovely complement to the others in a group. Speaking of groups, below is the group I woke up to early last week–my front garden finally starting to show up the neighbours’ barren yards. I don’t think they’d think me high-falutin’ for saying that, because we all enjoy my garden’s early spring cheer. Even the bergenia has perked up and is taking on its glowing maroon colour again. Actually, it has a presence in the garden all winter, although (like the rest of us) it gets a little tired looking by late January. The only plant that doesn’t make me happy in this picture is the snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) in the foreground, an invasive little devil if I ever saw one. I’ve been digging it out for years and it keeps coming back. The blue in the shot above isn’t a crocus, by the way–it’s Iris histroides ‘George’, another dependable spring player. There are many early spring bulbous iris varieties available, and they’re too often overlooked by gardeners in favour of more familiar plants. But they’re gorgeous–a closeup of ‘George’s colour-drenched face is below.