These are my beautiful Saffron flowers which I’ve grown in my green house from bulbs planted in September.
I’m harvesting the gorgeous rich strands as they come into flower and drying them on tissue paper in the convservatory
I wrote a blog post earlier this year about Saffron which I don’t think I ever published so here it is below:
Spring Blooms to Golden Autumn Strands
Crocuses are one of the flowers that for me signify the change of weather, season and the start of the gardening season. I encourage people to plant lots of crocus as they provide much needed forage for honey bees after their winter dormancy. The pollen provides protein which encourages the queen to start and lay eggs again causing the hive to start build up in numbers.
My crocuses have been wonderful this year but the slightly odd weather has meant that they are still in flower with tulips also about to burst in to bloom. I came home last week to find ‘Wabbit’ looking like Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout with a crocus flower hung out of the side of his mouth just polishing off the last of my gorgeous lilac crocus on the patio (He’s been caged since!!)
Seeing the spring crocus also reminds me that it’s time to order Saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) for autumn flowering. Last year I ordered from http://www.saffronbulbs.com and the quality of the bulbs was excellent. They are really easy to grow. The bulbs arrive in July / August and if planted immediately in the ground or pots will yield flowers and the wonderful saffron strands in late September. The bulbs will come again each year but not always 100% successfully. To harvest the saffron you simply clip the stamens out of the flower and leave them to dry out on tissue paper.
Saffron has a rich history which spans over 4,000 years. It is cited as being useful in the treatment of over 90 illnesses. Hippocrates recommended it for indigestion and toothache. Eastern medicine cites it as being able to bring wisdom and cheerfulness. It is also cited as useful for menstrual pain, circulation problems and as a female aphrodisiac. Saffron is used as a dye and provides the wonderful rich yellow colouring of the robes worn by Buddhist monks. To the Chinese and Greeks it was a royal clothing colour. Saffron was used by monks in the Middle ages mixed with egg white to illuminate manuscripts. It is used to colour cookery and alcoholic drinks such as Chartreuse, Advocaat and Egg Nog
Although not readily available as an essential oil it can be obtained as an absolute and a CO2 extract. A top note it is described as being rich, warming, and having a honeyed, enveloping bouquet. A single drop can fill a room with its intense aroma.
During my pondering about Saffron I wondered if it’s possible to make and infused oil with the strands and jojoba oil to use in body oils, lip balms and bath melts. I’m off to place my order for some bulbs (I may be searching e-bay for saffron strands later!) and I’ll let you know how I get on with the infused oil.