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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this photo you can see how the striped squills look like expanded versions of the Muscari azuereum.
The Puschkinia get more flowers per square area then any of the other small bulbs, so they make a more noticeable display.
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.
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.
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.
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.