Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Growing gold

A few years ago I spotted a little bag of tiny crocus corms in the tourist information shop in Saffron WaldenCrocus sativus, the flower that gave it's name to this market town in north Essex. I bought them and planted the six tiny corms at the end of our asparagus bed.

Each autumn I wait for the tufts of crocus leaves to break through the soil like upturned green paint brushes. How many will be hiding a pale sheath from which a flower will emerge. and when it does will the slugs or birds see it before me!

Those firey dragon tongues are the prize, the reason why for over 3,000 years Saffron has been cultivated and the precious stigmas traded for untold riches. Golden cloth, exquisite illuminations, medicinal potions, culinary delights, sweetmeats . . . all gilded with the aromatic gold.

You will need a field of crocuses the size of two football pitches to collect one kilo of Saffron! In the supermarkets Spanish Saffron sold in those teeny weeny packets inside a glass jar, costs £2.50 for 0.4g!

A precious pinch of fragrant Saffron and more to harvest . . .
what shall I make?


  1. I read a history of Saffron last year (including all about Saffron Walden) - how lovely to grow your own!

  2. Risotto with home made stock.

    (Never made the association with the flower and the town before now.)

  3. I bought myself some bulbs this year, I thought it would be deeply satisfying to harvest my own too, although I shall have to wait until next year for that pleasure.

    Cornish Saffron Cake is an ancient and tasty way to use it.

  4. Hi Gina - isn't it amazing to think of all the fields of Saffron growing around Saffron Walden!

    Hi Casalba - Risotto alla Milanese mmmmmmmm! that's an option.

    Hi Zoe - it takes time for the Saffron crocuses to settle in and start flowering well. Cornish Saffron Cake - that's a great idea!


  5. Anything with fish ... particularly a chowder

    How lovely to grow your own, very special ... I must look for some bulbs - do you get trouble with squirrels eating them? That's what seems to happen to all our crocuses, although not the autumn flowering colchicums


  6. I now want to grow my own crocuses just so I can harvest the saffron.

    I never realised that was how Saffron Walden got it's name.

  7. We gilded a turkey with honey and saffron one year. Very Medieval!

  8. Hi Joanna (for a moment I thought 'who's this Lettie person!')
    Another good suggestion, I need to plant a field of Saffron!

    Jules - do have a go, it's so exciting when you harvets your first threads!

    Wow VH! that's sounds amazing!



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