MUS­CARI THAT WON’T TAKE OVER!

Not all are in­va­sive and they make great dis­plays

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

Mus­cari once had a rep­u­ta­tion for tak­ing over gar­dens; how­ever this can be blamed mostly on M. ar­me­ni­acum, a vig­or­ous grape hy­acinth that is use­ful for fill­ing prob­lem spots un­der trees, but is far from ideal for a small gar­den. Luck­ily for those want­ing a more well-be­haved bulb, there are many non-in­va­sive and less vig­or­ous va­ri­eties avail­able.

if you’re lim­ited on space it’s worth look­ing for spe­cific va­ri­eties, be­cause grape hy­acinths have much to rec­om­mend them. Win­ter hardy and easy to grow, they fill the gar­den with a strong, sweet smell in spring. They are per­fect for pots and gravel gar­dens or for edg­ing bor­ders, as well as nat­u­ral­is­ing in grass or un­der trees, and will come back year af­ter year. They are also loved by bees – just avoid those with ster­ile flow­ers if you want to tempt pol­li­na­tors into your gar­den.

Lovely fra­grance

sev­eral are sold as non-in­va­sive, such as M. azureum; other cul­ti­vars are re­lated to vig­or­ous species but have a far less vig­or­ous na­ture.

Blue va­ri­eties make a strik­ing plant part­ner for nar­cis­sus and cro­cus at the front of bor­ders. Or use as part of a lay­ered ‘lasagne’ plant­ing of spring bulbs in a con­tainer for an at­trac­tive long-flow­er­ing dis­play.

Not all mus­cari are plain blue or white, how­ever – in­ter­est­ing vari­a­tions in­clude pale pow­der-blue ‘Va­lerie Fin­nis’, which has a lovely fra­grance. it will nat­u­ralise well but won’t run riot.

another hot pick is M. lat­i­folium, prized for its two-tone flow­er­heads – ideal for a bold dis­play in a pot or border. Or try M. mus­carimi, whose flow­ers open creamy yel­low and fade to grey, with a heavy musky fra­grance.

Look be­yond the com­monly grown types and you’ll find an ex­cit­ing range of mus­cari. Or­der and plant now for a swathe of scented flow­ers in spring.

The pur­ple-blue flow­ers look stun­ning en masse, but not all mus­cari are space in­vaders

Try lay­er­ing mus­cari in a pot with other spring bulbs

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