Muscari: fresh green leaves and pretty violet blue flowers
Better known by its common name of Grape hyacinth, Muscari is low-growing clump-forming bulb that brightens any garden and never fails to make me smile.
With thin green strap-like leaves and stems of pretty violet blue flowers (two-toned blue in the case of Muscari latifolium shown in the picture at the top of this page), Muscari is a useful bulb for almost any setting. It can cope with a wide variety of soil conditions and will perform well in all but the shadiest of locations. It works brilliantly in clumps or drifts, but can also be used very effectively as an attractive seasonal edging to a path or border. It will slowly spread itself around, but can be lifted and divided relatively easily if required.
Muscari can also be grown in pots. I always think that they are particularly effective in terracotta pots where the bright early season foliage contrasts wonderfully with the warm earthy colours of the terracotta. Do be careful that the soil/compost mix in the container isn’t too rich, however, as this can lead to plenty of leaves and not much in the way of flower. As the old saying goes: ‘treat ‘em mean to keep them keen’.
Whether they are bought for a container or for a border, planting Muscari bulbs is simplicity itself. They tend to be available from late summer to mid-autumn, and should be planted about 8-10cm deep and a similar distance apart.
In terms of companion planting, I have to say that I absolutely love the richness of the blue Muscari flowers alongside a beautifully bright and sunny yellow daffodil. Unfortunately, it’s still too early in the year for flowers from our perennials, but for a textural foliage contrast we could do a lot worse than growing Muscari alongside any of the old favourites with larger leaves. Geranium, Alchemilla and Heuchera are all great companions, and their fresh new growth looks superb alongside the thin strap-like leaves of Muscari.
All-in-all, Muscari is a lovely spring bulb, and I really wouldn’t be without it in my own garden.
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