Four of the Rarest and
Spring Flowering Bulbs
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Some of you are collectors. Your gardens are filled with one of a kind specimen bulbs and other unforgettable spring garden plants. The four we discuss today are among the rarest spring flowering bulbs we have ever seen.
You probably have never seen a Leucojum. They look exactly like a giant snowdrop and are best planted in clusters of at least 5 bulbs.
Leucojum, AKA The Summer Snowflake, are closely related to Galanthus, The Snowdrop. Both have nodding white flowers with green markings, but Leucojum blooms much later than Galanthus. This English native is strong, hardy, and quite long-lasting. It was introduced in 1750. The plants reach a height of 12-15 inches and bloom in late May or June. They are hardy from Zones 4-9.
Leucojum tolerate moist soils better than most bulbs. They can be planted by streams, swamps or ponds as long as they are above the high-water mark. They are also rodent-proof and deer-resistant. They are excellent naturalizers. Plant the bulbs 6-8” deep and 6” apart.
Muscari, also known as Grape Hyacinths or Pearls of Spain, are indigenous to the Mediterannean region where more than 50 different varieties can be found. The plants have been cultivated for many centuries. By 1576, cultivation notes indicated that muscari collected in Spain was being grown in gardens throughout Europe. Valerie Finnis, named to honor the British photographer and gardener, has blossoms that are a stunning light blue-a unique color found in few other flower bulbs. Takes your breath away!
The blooms of Muscari last longer than any other flower. They produce stems in succession providing flowers for weeks at a time. They are good forcers and are usually deer proof. Muscari are a vigorous species which can survive in almost any soil and naturalize easily. They do best in rich soil and sunny locations. They can be propagated from seed or offsets. Plant 6-8” deep and 4-6” apart. They are hardy from Zones 4-8.
Thomas Jefferson’s favorite muscari, recorded in his diaries, was the Tassel Hyacinth, M. comosum. This extraordinarily rare Muscari, named to honor the British photographer and gardener, the blossoms of this plant are a stunning light blue-a unique color found in few other flower bulbs. Takes your breath away!
The blooms of Muscari last longer than any other flower. They produce stems in succession providing flowers for weeks at a time. They are good forcers and are usually deer proof. Muscari are a vigorous species which can survive in almost any soil and naturalize easily. They do best in rich soil and sunny locations and will bloom in late April or May. They can be propagated from seed or offsets. Plant 5” deep and 3-4” apart.
We have already discussed Praestans in an earlier newsletter, but this Species Tulip needs to be mentioned here again. Of all the Species and Standard Tulips, this one needs to be included wherever fine, unique specimen bulbs are sold.
The ‘Praestans’ family of tulips was unknown to Europeans and Americans until the latter part of the 19th century when Russian travelers began to explore the regions of Central Asia. The plants are primarily native to Tajikistan where they grow on steep hillsides at an elevation of 6000 feet.
Most ‘Praestans’ are white with deep purple blotches at their base, but ‘Fuselier’ is much different. It is much taller, growing to a height of 10-12 inches. Its blossoms are a truly brilliant scarlet and are the largest of the ‘Praestans’. Each stem may produce multiple blossoms.
It is the showiest of the Species Tulips. It produces a definitive presence in the garden with as little as 5 tulips. A drift containing 10-25 bulbs will be a dominant spectacle in any size garden. Bulbs should be planted 6 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart.