Scilla (squills) and Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are two of my favourite spring flowering bulbs. Since they bloom right after the crocus, they keep the bulb show going so I don’t have a bare time in the garden before most plants start to flower. Both of them do well in part shade, growing under the trees. These bulbs are very cold hardy, and have no problem with a zone 3 winter. The white Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ and blue Scilla siberica were in this garden section before, but I added the purplish blue Chionodoxa fobesii last fall.
I have a number of the Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) in other parts of the garden, but I added them to this area to combine with the other small spring bulbs. They have beautiful purple blue flowers with five petals that face upwards to make a showy display. The inner base of each flower lightens to almost white, while there is a line of deeply saturated colour down the centre of each petal. The petal tips curl back slightly.
I especially like the way the white Chionodoxa mix with the more colourful Chionodoxa to highlight the pretty colour. They are like twinkling lights against the remains of the fall leaves.
Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’ are an all white version of glory of the snow. The light colour shows up extra well in the shadowy areas. This group of ‘Alba’ are growing on the other side of the willow next to some Puschkinia (striped squills) bulbs and pair well with the blue and white striped flowers.
These ‘Alba’ are in front of a Dryopteris fern that is mostly evergreen. You can see one of the fronds from last year at the top of the photo. Chionodoxa work well informally under the deciduous trees, mixed with ferns and tree detritus. As the ferns grow, the green strap-like foliage of the Chionodoxa will be covered up, so it won’t be so noticeable as it dies back for the summer.
Chionodoxa mix beautifully with the related Scilla that at the top of the picture. The colourful Chionodoxa used to be my favourite, but now I appreciate having some white ones mixed with them. You can see how the white ones add a little sparkle to brighten up the display. They catch your eye more and set off the pretty colour of the purplish blue Chionodoxa.
The Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ (squills) at the top of this picture have a true blue colour. The Scilla flowers have a darker line running down the middle of each petal. The squill flowers face downwards, and because of this they are less noticeable than the Chionodoxa, but they make up for that with their wonderful colour.
This photo shows the difference in flower habits, with the Chionodoxa blooms at the front pointing upwards, and the Scilla at the back facing downwards.
Here are the glory of the snow bulbs mixing it up in the leaves under the trees. On their own the Chionodoxa seem blue, but planted next to the real blue squills they appear purple.
This closeup of the two colours of starry Chionodoxa flowers twinkling together.
These bulbs are planted under a willow tree, so the plants get a medium amount of light in spring before the tree fully leafs out. Even so, you can see that the branches cast dappled light on the bulbs, which handle the part shade just fine.
I’m glad I mixed the Chionodoxa colours next to each other to enliven the display. Along with the blue Scilla siberica, they make a nice trio.