Northern Shade Gardening

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ and Scilla siberica

Friday, May 20, 2011 Category: Bulbs
Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) white flowers with fern

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) white flowers with fern

Here’s a pretty combination of blue and white bulbs. The Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ (white glory of the snow) and Scilla siberica (squills) have the same flowering schedule, and show up right after the crocus.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) closeup of flowers

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) closeup of flowers

Chionodoxa luciliae commonly comes in a very pretty blue colour, a little lighter than the Scilla. I enjoy the colour, but the white ‘Alba’ are attractive, too, and also coordinate with blue bulbs. The Chionodoxa flowers face upwards, unlike the Scilla, for maximum impact. These groups have filled in nicely, and returned with more flowers. It’s heartening to see bulbs that improve in appearance each spring, rather than slowly fading away quickly over a few years like some do.

Scilla siberica (squills) with blue flowers in May

Scilla siberica (squills) with blue flowers in May

Scilla siberica are a pure saturated blue. The little blue flowers face downwards, but since both the back and front of the petals are brightly coloured, you can still get an overall effect of a a little piece of the sky. They are very charming and easy to grow, spreading slowly over the years. Since the squill foliage  disappear after spring is done, they don’t interfere with any other plants.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow), Scilla siberica (squills), and Puschkinia

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow), Scilla siberica (squills), and Puschkinia

Both of these small spring bulbs bloom at the same time as the blue and white striped Puschkinia libanotica, which you can see at the back of the photo. The Puschkinia start first, then the Chionodoxa, and the Scilla join in last. All three of these spring bulbs are reliable, withstanding the cold of zone 3, and returning with strong blooms in early to mid spring. After the flowers are through, it doesn’t take long for the foliage to store up energy for next year, and then die back. Since the leaves are small, they are not as noticeable as tulip and daffodil leaves after the flowers are done, while you wait for them to whither. I find that planting them next to ferns or later perennials hides the decaying leaves quickly.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow), Scilla siberica (squills) and Pulmonaria

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow), Scilla siberica (squills) and Pulmonaria

Both the Chionodoxa and Scilla handle part shade well. In the picture above, they are planted adjacent to some Pulmonaria ‘Majeste’ (lungwort), which you can see on the right. It should have it’s own blue flowers in a few weeks.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) white flowers with Dryopteris

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba' (glory of the snow) white flowers with Dryopteris

You can see some of the fern fronds between the white blooms, like greenery added to a bouquet in a vase. These Chionodoxa luciliae are planted beside a Dryopteris expansa (spiny wood fern). which is semi-evergreen. The fern keeps some fronds over the winter, so it has ready made greenery to pair with the glory of the snow, as the other ferns are still emerging.

Scilla siberica (squills) with Matteuccia struthiopteris ferns

Scilla siberica (squills) with Matteuccia struthiopteris ferns

These squill flowers are resting on the new fiddleheads of the Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern), pretty blue with alien looking green and brown. The fuzzy looking fiddleheads will unroll very quickly now, growing a metre or so (3 to 4 feet) in a month.

Scilla siberica (squills) with blue flowers

Scilla siberica (squills) with blue flowers

Here you can see the true blue of the Scilla siberica. Both of these bulbs are diminutive, at only 10cm to 25 cm (4 to 10 in) tall, so they look sweet in groups, but a little lost individually. They  provide some early flower colour as the first perennials are barely starting to bloom. They look very natural, so you can plant them in a more formal garden bed, or under the trees for a woodland setting.

Here is a gallery showing different photos of the squills and glory of the snow. You can click on any small photo to see it full size.

7 Responses to “Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ and Scilla siberica” »

  1. VW :
    May 20, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Love that blue and white combo (and rich green, of course) – your pictures capture it very well.

  2. Diane :
    May 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Lovely collection you have!

  3. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

    VW, I like the pairing of the pure white with the rich blue, as the colours look fresh.

    Diane, I have two different sections of Scilla, and I think this one is my favourite now, because of the arrangement of other bulbs around them.

  4. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    May 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    What charming flowers, such a deep blue – especially before opening.

  5. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Rebecca, the Scilla are a rich blue colour and get a fair number of blooms in the shade.

  6. Marit :
    May 21, 2011 at 1:09 am

    The white and blue Scilla siberica are lovely plants in the spring. Here they thrive almost too much, but they are a nice “weed”.

  7. Northern Shade :
    May 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Marit, the Scilla have done very well in a garden bed on the north side of my house that gets very little light, producing lots of flowers under tough conditions.

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