We have probably all marveled at the beautiful fields of blue that pop up around this time of year. Customers ask me all the time in wonderment, “What is that?!”
Scilla is a member of the lily family. Most varieties bloom in spring whereas a few are fall bloomers. It is coveted for it naturalizing tendencies. So year after year they will slowly multiply to form that lovely blanket of blue. I always warn that they aren’t for the faint of heart. These are a true gardeners plant. As seen below, if they love their home they can take over.
A mass of ScillaThey like full sun locations with well drained soil. Plant them en masse for the best show. you can even pair them with a Tete e Tete daffodil, which is a lovely dwarf variety in a creamy yellow. Once they are done blooming, they are similar to other bulbs and do best if you let the leaves wilt. Other plants like ferns and hosta can be used to help mask the withering leaves as they come up as the scilla is nearing the end of its season.
See how tiny the Scilla bulbs are?Once the Scilla have put on their show they disappear completely, back into dormancy for their next display the following year. If you have never noticed this unique plant, take the time to look around…you won’t forget it once you see it.
When diving into the history of different plants it more often than not more interesting than the actual biological development of the plant. If you delve deeply enough it is about how the plant has moved throughout the world and it fits into history.
The crocus is no different. It was first cultivated and grown for a very precious commodity. Saffron. Crocus sativus is a fall blooming crocus that has been grown for over 3,500 years starting in the Mediterranean, as seen in a fresco in Crete. In fact, according to legend the Greek Gods Zeus & Hura loved each other so passionately that the land where they lived burst open with crocuses.
The crocus first made its trek to the Netherlands from Constantinople via the Holy Roman Empire’s Ambassador in the 1560’s where it continued it’s cultivation throughout Europe. So coveted were they that they even made an appearance in one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
There are approximately 80 varieties of Crocus, 40 of which that are cultivated. Each variety takes on the appearance of its ancestors where they were first grown. The alpine species, C. vernus, is the chief ancestor of the common garden crocus. Dutch yellow crocus (C. flavus), from stony slopes in southeastern Europe, is another popular spring species, as is C. biflorus,tinged purple and with yellow throat, sometimes striped, from the Mediterranean.
As winter slowly recedes and spring creeps to occupy its space these lovely darlings make their debut. A little wink at what bursts of life and color are yet to come. So keep a look out for natures promise for spring.