Florid as a rock

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

Fancy a colour­ful early bloomer? David Ov­erend rec­om­mends the lit­tle gem that is Scilla siber­ica.

Here’s a lit­tle plant to bring a bit of colour to beds and bor­ders (and con­tain­ers, of course) at this time of year – Scilla siber­ica, an early-bloom­ing peren­nial that may just reach a height of eight inches.

It’s also per­fect for a small rock where it can revel in the ideal con­di­tions of a welldrained, fer­tile, sandy soil and en­joy a spot where it can make the most of any sun that’s go­ing.

Plant the bulbs in the au­tumn and di­vide any big clumps af­ter the blooms have faded and the fo­liage has died down (early sum­mer should be fine).

Scilla siber­ica “Spring Beauty” is one of the most pop­u­lar mem­bers of this fam­ily of de­light­ful lit­tle gems. It’s a peren­nial bulb with nar­row basal leaves and erect stems bear­ing racemes of star-shaped, flat or bell-shaped, blue flow­ers.

It knows its place – tucked down low to the ground where it can get pro­tec­tion from cold spring winds. Don’t ex­pect it to grow higher than 15cm, so to show it at its best, give it a bit of breath­ing space from plants round about it.

For gar­den­ers who aren’t over-keen on the colour blue, pre­fer­ring, in­stead, to stick to the white that is so com­mon in early spring, there is Scilla siber­ica “Alba”, which looks best when planted in drifts, light­ing up a shady wood­land cor­ner or dec­o­rat­ing the ground be­neath de­cid­u­ous shrubs where it can show off be­fore new fo­liage cuts out the light and over­shad­ows it.

Th­ese bril­liant lit­tle white flow­ers – which are so very easy to grow – have tough stems topped with up to five nod­ding, bell­shaped flow­ers in March and April and which are ac­com­pa­nied by slen­der, strap­shaped, glossy, mid-green leaves.

Siberian squill are ideal for nat­u­ral­is­ing. If you aim for a nat­u­ral-look­ing dis­play, throw hand­fuls of bulbs over the ground, plant­ing them where they fall. Al­ter­na­tively, plant them 10cm deep in late sum­mer or early au­tumn in any mod­er­ately fer­tile, hu­mus-rich, welldrained soil.

For the best of both worlds, plant a few “Alba” in among drifts of “Spring Beauty”. And add a few more of S bi­fo­lia, a paler blue, which is also a very good nat­u­raliser.

Scilla siber­ica are rel­a­tively cheap to buy, so there’s no need to skimp on plant­ing – 50 bulbs should set you back less than a ten­ner.

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