Page 13

s a broad Hyacinthus orientalis – the base of over 2,00 Muscari lat ifo lium halow 0 f e leaf and whose blu inderigois‘hat’ named cultivars tipped wit h a sterile Puschkinia – another ‘snow melt ‘plant sometimes called the Chionodoxa – striped squill another family ‘cousin’ known as ‘Glory of the Snow’

commonly found is C. siehei which is violetblue with a white eye. Each well sized bulb will produce several flowering stems and will also self-seed readily to form large colonies. C. forbesii is native to Turkey, and in early spring produces a raceme of up to 12 star shaped blue flowers with a white centre. A cultivar ‘Pink Giant’ has pale pink flowers and again with white centres. Although alpine plants, early flowering means they will tolerate woodland conditions. Plant beneath deciduous shrubs and in late winter to early spring they will produce a beautiful swathe of blue. The squill, or scilla, is widespread across Europe, Asia and Africa, with only the tropical areas excluded. The genus most likely to be seen in our gardens is S. siberica from Siberia and West Asia. This has nodding, bell-shaped, electric blue flowers throughout February and March. Another self-seeder it is a perfect plant for naturalising in grass or in deciduous woodland. The cultivar ‘Spring Beauty’ has darker flowers. Scilla peruviana is my favourite. Unlike the other delicate squills, this one is big and blousy. As it hales from South Western Europe and North Africa it is borderline hardy. In early summer large heads unfold, revealing up to 100 star shaped purple/blue flowers. It performs best in poor soil, which will promote more flowers and less leaves, and in a sunny sheltered position. There is also a white form, which I haven’t yet seen, but it is on my wish list! We must of course mention the bluebell, hyacinthoides. To walk through a wood of our

Muscari macr ocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’

native Hyacinthoides non-scripta in May is one of life’s great pleasures. A carpet of arching stems of blue, sometimes pink or white, and the delightful aroma of late spring is a joy to behold. But there is a snake in paradise, albeit an innocent one. This is of course the demonised Spanish bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica, introduced into this country 300 years ago. It is a much stouter plant, with broader leaves, bells on both sides of the stems and little if any scent. Unfortunately it has hybridised freely putting our indigenous bluebell at risk in the wild. Lastly we have puschkinia, named after, wait for it, Count Apollos Mussin-Puschkin, who was a Russian botanist in the early 19th century. This is another snow melt plant and is sometimes called the striped squill. Most plants in cultivation are Puschkinia scilloides or its cultivars. The flowers are bluish-white striped, with a deeper blue, and produced from March to April. Unlike many of its relatives it enjoys damp conditions, such as meadows, in full sun or part shade. You may wish to naturalise these bulbous beauties in wood or grassland where they can multiply freely. Perhaps you will use them in borders where a close eye can be kept upon them both to appreciate and rein in when necessary. Maybe you will display them in pots or planters which you can move in and out of position as they begin to shine or fade. Whichever is right for you and your garden, I am sure you will be able to find a place in your life for the hyacinth and its close relatives. www.countrygardener.co.uk

THE BLUEBELL BAT TLEF IELDS - RAISING THE PROF ILLE OF THE UK’S NAT IVE BLUEBELL. SEE PAGE 46

13

Devon Country Gardener April 2018  

The April 2018 issue of Devon Country Gardener Magazine

Devon Country Gardener April 2018  

The April 2018 issue of Devon Country Gardener Magazine

Advertisement