Northern Shade Gardening

Spring Bulbs in Blue and White

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 Category: Bulbs

Now that the crocus are done flowering, it’s time for the blue and white spring bulbs.  My Chionodoxa (glory of the snow), Puschkinia (striped squills), Scilla (squills) and Muscari (grape hyacinths) all bloom after the crocus, and coordinate beautifully together. With the trees leafing out now, there is more shade in the garden, but these bulbs tolerate the lower light conditions, and don’t mind the leaf litter from the trees.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flower closeup

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flower closeup

Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are my favourite of the blue spring bulbs. As their common day implies, they don’t mind a little cold and snow, which you are bound to get in Edmonton in the spring.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers

Those pretty blue Chionodoxa petals lighten to almost white at their base, and a deeper blue at their tips. The dark blue stripe down the centre of each of the 6 petals make them stand out a little more.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers above leaves

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers above leaves

Since they are so tiny, I  like them planted in large groups, especially next to Scilla and Puschkinia, for more of an impact. I can see this group from my kitchen window, and enjoy the pattern of white and blue colours. The slow poke gardener hadn’t removed all of the fall leaf drop when this picture was taken. I usually leave the fall leaves on the garden over winter for a little extra protection against our cold -35°C/-40°C (-31°F/-40°F) winters, and remove it in early spring. However this year in a few garden sections that extended into late spring.

Chionodoxa forbesii glory of the snow blue flowers

Chionodoxa forbesii glory of the snow blue flowers

These bulbs are surrounded by ferns, Hosta, Polygonatum (Solomon’s seal), and Brunnera (Siberian bugloss), which will soon hide the decaying leaves of the bulbs.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba'closeup

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’closeup

This white form, Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’, blends well with the blues. The light colour shows up beautifully as this area gets shadier and shadier, and also make the blue flowers pop more.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba'

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’

These white glory of the snow got a little dirt on their faces when I disturbed the surrounding fall leaves, but they are still a bright spot in the garden.

Muscari azureum grape hyacinth

Muscari azureum grape hyacinth

I haven’t shown these little Muscari azureum (grape hyacinths) much before, although I’ve had them in the garden for quite a while. The larger Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ are more showy, and my favourites, but these have their own charm, too. I don’t have a large enough group of them, and being so petite they really need to be planted in more substantial numbers. I keep meaning to add some more Muscari bulbs to this area in the fall, so I’ll have to make a note for this fall’s bulb planting. They do pretty well considering they are planted at the base of a willow tree, and most plants don’t appreciate that kind of competition.

Muscari azureum showing little grapes

Muscari azureum showing little grapes

When seen closeup, the individual bells of the Muscari remind me of the Puschkinia shown below, with the pale blue petal colour and a dark blue stripe down the centre of each petal section.  However, the grape hyacinths have a little purple shimmer to them. The little Muscari bells open from the bottom up. You can see the closed ones at the top look like the little grapes described in their common name. They really are very small, maybe a centimetre or 2 across (less than an inch), so they don’t show up as much as the Puschkinia. The double  ‘Blue Spike’ grape hyacinths that open later have more of a ‘wow’ factor, but if you are looking for an earlier Muscari, or more natural looking bulbs, then these are a nice choice for their pretty, light blue colour.

Puschkinia libanotica 3 flower spikes

Puschkinia libanotica 3 flower spikes

The Puschkinia scilloides ‘Libanotica’ (striped squills) have no trouble popping up through the leaf litter either. The elongated spears poke a hole where needed, and out they pop, followed quickly by those gorgeous flowers. The many blue striped bells hang down all along the central stalk.

Puschkinia libanotica closeup of white and blue flowers

Puschkinia libanotica closeup of white and blue flowers

In this photo you can see how the striped squills look like expanded versions of the Muscari azuereum.

Puschkinia libanotica pretty blue striped flowers

Puschkinia libanotica pretty blue striped flowers

The Puschkinia get more flowers per square area then any of the other small bulbs, so they make a more noticeable display.

Puschkinia libanotica up through fall leaves

Puschkinia libanotica up through fall leaves

Here’s a clump of Puschkinia, showing how they can make a nice show in larger numbers. With their blue and white colouring, they make a bridge between other blue bulbs.

Scilla siberica small blue flowers

Scilla siberica small blue flowers

These Scilla siberica have the truest blue of all of these bulbs. When viewed closely, the also have the central blue stripe down the centre of each petal, just like the Puschkina and Chionodoxa, to which they are related.

Scilla siberica with pretty blue flowers

Scilla siberica with pretty blue flowers

Usually in the shade the Scilla look a little darker blue than is showing in the photo. They are such hardy bulbs for a northern climate, since they just look after themselves, with no fussing.

Chionodoxa in blue and white

Chionodoxa in blue and white

Here are the 2 different Chionodoxa next to each other, enjoying a little sunshine through the tree branches. The next bulbs up are the double Muscari ‘Blue Spike’, which flower with the tulips. It’s fun to see all of my old favourites have their turn in the garden, before the larger perennials take over. Now is a good time for the smaller bulbs to shine, and not get lost amongst their giant neighbours.

 

11 Responses to “Spring Bulbs in Blue and White” »

  1. Marit :
    May 28, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I like these spring bulbs very much. Muscari is my favorite of them. This year I had a new pink sort. Puschkinia is lovely in blue and white. I planted it last autumn, and I want more of it. Here all of them are gone by now. We had a very warm spring, but it’s nice to see them again in your blog.

  2. Barbarapc :
    May 29, 2014 at 4:36 am

    The little bulbs are so rewarding after a long cold winter. Such a punch of colour in such a small space.

  3. Northern Shade :
    May 29, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Marit, the pink would look wonderful with the blue and purple Muscari, for a soft spring colour scheme. I’ve ended up adding the Puschkinia to a number of garden beds, because I think the same thing as you every spring.

    Barbarapc,I always admire the tiny early spring bulbs out of proportion to their size, for just the reasons you mention.

  4. VW :
    May 29, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Lovely! My ‘Spring Beauty’ scilla are spreading like wildfire – maybe I’ll regret planting them in a decade but for now they’re cute. I also have pink chionodoxa which is cute but a little pale, maybe it would be better in shade where the color would be less washed out.

  5. Northern Shade :
    May 29, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    VW, the good thing about Scilla is that they are so small, so even when they spread they don’t really bother their neighbours. Plus, they disappear for the rest of the summer anyways. Perhaps in my cold climate mine don’t spread as much as yours.

  6. M/S Design Mariana :
    May 30, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Like Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’! I will plant many more in the fall.
    Missing spring flowers at the small pond and they would fit in there.
    best regards
    Mariana

  7. Northern Shade :
    May 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Mariana, the white Chionodoxa easily fits into different planting schemes, and would work well with little bulbs around your small pond.

  8. Köögikata :
    May 31, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Hmm, these white chionodoxa’s I must have too!
    Scilla sibirica is here more like weed, but I still like them.

  9. Northern Shade :
    May 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Köögikata,the white Chionodoxa look great in the shade, since they reflect so much light, and help to brighten the darker areas. They show up well.

  10. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    June 1, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Just stopped in to say hello, you always have the loveliest spring bulbs. Especially nice pairing in the last picture. :)

  11. Northern Shade :
    June 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Rebecca, it’s nice to hear from you. I’ve squeezed many bulbs into most of the perennial beds, so that the season starts with a flourish. The tulips are just starting to open now, along with the double Muscari.

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