Monday, September 25, 2006

Grape Hyacinth

They call them little jewels of the garden. Muscari Grape Hyacinth blooms in early spring, with a rich, blue carpet of intense color. Their nickname came about because the small flowers look like upside-down grapes.

They're tiny bulbs. This morning, I planted 150 of them around the base of my D'Anjou Pear Tree. That sounds like a lot of work, but they're so small, (about the size of a nickel) it's really quite easy. For these 150 bulbs, I dug a broad, shallow hole, six inches deep and about 4 feet in diameter. Set bulbs in the hole and sprinkle loose dirt back over them. I like to mix in a few Miniature Daffodil bulbs (Narcissus) for bright color contrast. Narcissus also naturalizes, keeping pace with the Hyacinth spread.

Originating on the stony slopes of the Mediterranean, Grape Hyacinths are tough, tiny plants, perfect for rock gardens. After a spring rain, the air is filled with a lovely, musk fragrance (hence the name Muscari.)

And, they naturalize beautifully. In a couple of years, this little drift of brilliant blue should triple in size. Bonus: deer and rodent resistant.

* Muscari armeniacum (Grape Hyacinth,) USDA zones 4-8, grow to approximately six inches in height with lush foliage. Full sun to partial shade. They are such easy growers, I'd suggest buying them from a discount outlet vs. paying premium price from specialty nurseries.

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