Grape Hyacinths (Muscari)

It was another productive day at the gardens.  The grape hyacinths (Muscari sp.) pictured throughout this blog are still 2-3 weeks away from blooming but are one of my favorite bulbs (native to Eurasia) for incorporating a nice “cooling color” in to the spring garden.  The two photos above feature Muscari armeniacum.  With so many bright colors of daffodils (Narcissus) and tulips (Tulipa) in the spring garden, the utilization of vast drifts of this bulb and its many species and colors offers a nice effect.  The shades of blue available are spectacular in the spring garden.  Years ago we did a little grape hyacinth collection and accumulated 20 or so species and varieties.  There are a lot more available now.  We incorporate Muscari throughout the garden and usually plant these bulbs in drifts of 25-50 bulbs (3″ deep and 3″ apart) in October, resulting in great impact the following spring.  Their early bloom time also makes them prime candidates to be used in areas considered shady if deciduous trees are involved… In essence, enough sunlight is coming through the tree branches in April and May for this bulb prior to leaf canopy emergence.  These grape hyacinths then “do their thing” and finish up (going semi-dormant) as the canopy fills in and creates more shade.  See many of the photos down at the bottom where drifts are placed throughout our shade garden where hostas ultimately emerge and fill the space as the grape hyacinths go dormant.  Muscari are also tolerant of deer, clay soils and being planted under walnuts.  The most common (and affordable) selection we use is Muscari armeniacum which perennializes very well out in the gardens.  This species does also send up some “grass-like” foliage in late summer through early fall for additional photosynthesis so it is important to know to expect this foliage which can be obscured by surrounding perennials.  Don’t cut it back though!  It will remain green well in to winter.  Do more research on this fun bulb and look for it this fall for installation in areas where significant color is warranted.

We had another productive spring day.  Our busy grounds staff of Larry O., Cindy, Big John, Larry H., Terry and I had plenty of action.  There were plenty of projects out in the gardens.  I went on a run to pick up pansies for our Pansy Sale that is held in conjunction with our Bagged Compost Sale this Saturday from 8 am until 12 noon at the Horticulture Center.  The sale will continue every Saturday through our Spring Plant Sale while supplies last.  Our volunteers included Bobby K., Kathy P., Kay, Steve, Urban, Dr. Gredler and we also saw Maury, Gary, Hal and Iza for our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee meeting.  It was another great day out in the gardens!

Muscari armeniacum (above)

Muscari botryoides ‘Album’ (above and below)


Muscari armeniacum ‘Mount Hood’ (above and two below)

Muscari armeniacum ‘Saffier’ (above)

Muscari latifolium (above and two below)

Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’ (above and three below)

Muscari armeniacum ‘Fantasy Creation’ (above)

Muscari sp. ‘Pink Sunrise’ (above)

Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’ (above…never thrived for us!)

use them in the “shade garden” to fill gaps (with plenty of early season light) as your perennials fill in!