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Crocus blooms make first appearance on prairie

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The first crocus blooms — a sure sign that spring is really, honestly, swear-on-a-stack-of-Bibles here — broke through winter's firmament on Sunday in Arden.

That ties with the record for latest crocus bloom in living memory in the community, 170 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, just off the Yellowhead Highway.

But Manitoba’s provincial flower went Blech! and closed its purple petals as a blanket of sleet and snow covered them up again by mid-morning today in Arden.

The crocus is a smart flower. When it turns cold, it closes its petals and goes back into hibernation. No wonder it’s Manitoba’s provincial flower. It closes up to protect its seed producing mechanism.

"I went out Sunday morning and discovered three blooms," said Leonard Paramor, local storekeeper and crocus aficionado. "I went out later in the day and saw 50."

There’s a two-hectare heritage site on the edge of town where crocuses and other wild fauna are protected. "When the crocuses are fully open, there will be several hundred thousand of them on that site," said Paramor. That shouldn’t be too far away now, although today's weather put a damper on things.

Paramor didn’t think the first crocus bloom would arrive until May, judging by conditions and the long range forecast. "I was actually quite surprised but we had three days of 14-to-15 degree temperatures," he said.

Paramor said the crocus will keep its petals open through the night so long as temperatures stay above eight degrees or so. "It’s strictly based on temperature."

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

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