Crocus are now brightening up many public open spaces. They like well-drained soil and sun. But do watch for mice as they like crocus corms.
Unlike snowdrops crocus come in a range of colours and local authorities often like to use mixed colours. However, limiting to one or two colours can be very effective.
The type you see most often are the large flowered Dutch crocus. You can get named varieties: Yellow Mammoth, Joan of Arc (white), Flower Record (purple), Pickwick(striped).
Slightly earlier and smaller are the forms of Crocus chrysanthus. They include Blue Pearl, Cream Beauty, Snow Bunting as well as the gold and black Gypsy Girl, the purple and white Ladykiller and Prins Claus and the larger, very good white variety, Ard Schenck.
Other good small flowered species for naturalising are the Tommy crocus C. tommasinianus which has good forms like Barrs Purple and Ruby Giant- which isn’t a giant! Crocus sieberi is lilac but has various forms, notably Tricolor which has three contrasting colours.
All of these crocus do well in grass but it is essential that the leaves that follow the flowers are allowed to grow properly to create the replacement corm to produce a flower next spring. As the leaves of crocus are rather like grass they are less obtrusive than the larger leaves of daffodils.
Even in a garden you need a reasonable number of crocus to create an effective display. Fortunately Crocus are not too expensive and get cheaper as you buy in bigger quantities. If you are involved in planting a large number of crocus in public spaces your local parks dept. gardeners may be able to help with a machine to lift the turf. Very large numbers of corms can then be broadcast onto the bare earth before the turf is rolled back.
Less commonly seen types of crocus mean specialist growers can have crocus in flower from September through to Easter.
The Scottish Rock Garden Club website has lots of crocus information.