The Little Guys –
Carpets of Spring Color –
Puschkinias and Scillas
THE NEW FREEDOM
HEIRLOOM BULB SALE WILL BE HELD
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12-13, 2019
IN THE PARKING LOT NEXT TO 60 EAST HIGH STREET,
NEW FREEDOM, PA.
THIS WILL BE COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND,
NOT THE WEEKEND FOLLOWING COLUMBUS DAY.
ALL OF THE BULBS DISCUSSED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ARE
AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK:
FOR SPECIFIC BULBS, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE “BUY NOW” BUTTON LOCATED ON EACH PHOTO AND THAT BUTTON WILL TAKE YOU TO THE WEBPAGE WHICH DISCUSSES THAT BULB
To learn more about forcing bulbs in water or soil watch our videos on YouTube
Forcing Bulbs in Water
Forcing Bulbs in Pots
This year Harvesting History’s fall newsletter series is going to focus on spring flowering bulbs that are critter resistant and great plants for nourishing pollinators. In the last six newsletters, we discussed Rock Garden Irises (Iris reticulatas), Chionodoxas (Glory of the Snow), Galanthus (Snowdrops), Hyacinthoides (Bluebells), Species Tulips, Native American Bulbs, Alliums, Species Narcissus and Crocus. In this newsletter, we are going to discuss two spring bulbs that you often see in the gardens of older neighborhoods, but never know what they are – Puschkinias and Scillas.
If you live in an old neighborhood where the homes were built before 1950, you have seen all of the flowers we are going to describe in this newsletter. Each of these species was an essential part of the American spring cottage garden. They were planted in clusters which grew into drifts and then proliferated into sister clusters through self-seeding. They could be seen throughout the ample yards of the pre-1950’s neighborhoods.
I love the following quote taken from Anna Pavord’s marvelous book, BULB, regarding some of these little bulbs:
“Chionodoxa together with grape hyacinths, Scilla, and Chionoscilla
provide the chorus in the opera of spring’s arrival. From a distance,
they all seem to be singing the same tune, providing a gentle
background to the arias of bigger, pushier stars.”
Puschkinia and scilla are tiny plants which produce multiple flower stems. They are all critter resistant which probably accounts for the fact that they alone have survived in drifts after 50-100 years. They naturalize easily and quickly, but for immediate impact they should be planted in clusters of at least 25 bulbs. They are meant to be viewed as a drift, not as single plants.
Neither puschkinias nor scilla are good for forcing, but they make excellent pot plants. The bulbs of each should be planted close together – nearly touching – in a soil mixed with 1 part sand to 2 parts soil.
I like to call this plant, The Cement Crack Flower, because if you have an older home in an older neighborhood with old, cracked cement sidewalks, you will frequently find scillas growing through the cement cracks early in the spring.
If you desire blue in your garden, this is as blue as it gets. Though the blossoms are tiny, no more than ½ inch, their striking blue color draws the eye to them immediately. The Scilla family of plants produces more blue-shaded cultivars than any other family.
Scilla, also known as Squill, Siberian Squill, Bluebells and Wild Hyacinth, are members of the lily family which have been cultivated for centuries by Europeans and Americans. Like Hyacinths, they are probably native to Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, but found their way to Europe many centuries ago. They were known in America by the 1600’s. They will easily naturalize in shady or semi-shady areas and deer do not usually eat them. They are best when planted in masses.
Each Scilla Siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ bulb produces a bouquet of royal blue, nodding blossoms, 4-6 on a stem and 1-2 stems per bulb.
‘Spring Beauty’ was introduced in 1880. It is one of the few plants that actually performs best in shaded or partially shaded areas. It should be planted in clusters of at least 25 unless it is being forced in a pot. A 6-inch diameter pot can hold 10 bulbs.
Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty” is hardy from Zone 3 to Zone 8.
Puschkinia libanotica is a white flower striped with vivid blue. Puschkinia are related to Scillas and Chionodoxa.
They became popular in the early 19th century. They are not named after the famous Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin. They are named in honor of the Russian plant collector and chemist, Count Apollos Apollosovich Mussin-Pushkin who led a plant discovery expedition to the Middle East during the latter half of the 1700s when, perhaps, Puschkinias were discovered.
Puschkinias are small, but intriguing flowers. Anna Pavord, in her wonderful book, Bulb, captures the essence of Puschkinia libanotica when she writes,
“This is a wispy, ethereal flower and needs a place to itself in the garden, where, doing its quiet, little thing, it will not be overwhelmed by noisy neighbors.”
These tiny 5 inch plants produce spikes with 6-10 flowers. Though the flowers are white, it is the vivid blue stripes that draw your attention. It’s hard to explain, you will just have to grow some of these.
You need about 25 bulbs for them to have a presence in your garden, but if you are planting in pots, 5-10 bulbs are enough.
Puschkinia libanotica is hardy from Zone 4 to Zone 8.
There is also a pure white variety of Puschkinia libanotica known as Puschkinia libanotica alba. A photo of this plant is included below.
Don’t miss our “REMINDER” newsletter on
Saturday, October 12, 2019 newsletter about some
rare garlic varieties that do well in American
gardens and need to be ordered now and planted soon.
Celebrate your uniquely American horticultural heritage
Harvest Your History
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on orders $50 and above