One of the earliest blue bulbs to show in my garden are the Muscari.
At the end of June I received ‘J Parkers’ Autumn wholesale catalogue. They claim to be ‘the greatest name in Dutch Bulbs’ and I have bought from them for my garden several times with good results. Last season I bought several varieties of Muscari. Whilst the wholesale catalogue is priced without vat the prices and rates for larger quantities make for a reasonably economic priced deal if you spend the minimum order value. They supply many of the local retailers but also have a retail catalogue.
Grape Hyacinth – Muscari Varieties
- Other common names for Muscari include Starch Hyacinth or Feather Hyacinth.
- M. Plumosum the feather hyacinth have grown well and the flower heads are fuller and fluffy
- M. Azureum have soft blue flowers and I grew them in pots some of which made excellent gifts to friends and fellow gardeners.
- The third variety I bought were the porcelain blue M. Valerie Finnis and they were OK without being special.
- M Golden fragrance has yellow florets toped with purple before they are fully open. It is said to be very fragrant and I may try some this year.
- Another musk scented variety is M. Muscarium with purple to olive flower heads. They are a bit later flowering in May
- Ofter the name explains the flower shape or colour M Azureum album is pure white and M Mount Hood has a white top like a hood on the blue flowers whilst M lactifolium has a single broad leaf with a bi-coloured flower spike
Cultural tips for Grape Hyacinth
- This bulb flowers in spring so it can be planted under a deciduous tree as it should get the sun it needs before the leaves start to shade it.
- Useful for rock gardens but plant 4 inches apart to allow leaves to develop and new offsets to grow and create a mass effect.
- If troubled with rodent damage to bulbs plant them 2-3 inches deep with a layer of chichen wire over the bulbs before filling with soil on the top.
- Lift and divide clumps after 4-5 years if they are over crowded or loosing flowering vitality
- Add a little sand or grit if the soil is too damp or waterlogged.
- Over feeding reduces flower display so apart from some bone meal when planting do not bother to feed.
- Seed can be collected in July and distributed in a new or adjacent area
- Grape hyacinth are reasonably pest and disease free
- Blue grape hyacinth work well with other spring bulbs like red tulips or lilac crocus.
So if summer is wet and miserable get out your bulb catalogue and plan for spring 2009. Mail order bulbs will arrive in Autumn ready for planting and shouldn’t be dried out like some shop bought varieties. Mail order also allows you to select from a wider choice of varieties. As a small bulb Grape Hyacinth are cheaper and offer good value when compared to Tulips and Daffodils