A Cuckoo in the Nest


Grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum

Grape hyacinths, even Muscari armeniacum, don’t seem to last here for more than a couple of years in the garden. It is probably our soggy winter conditions and clay soil that does for them, but I do love their wonderful blue spikes at this time of year when all round seems to be yellow and so I now usually grow them in small terracotta pots. That way I can move the pots around, bring them in and dress them up as required.


Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ on the greenhouse shelf

Over time I’ve found that the icy blue of Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis’ is my favourite, so I grow the lovely Valerie in quantity every year. Those bells looks so demure, reminding me of little puff sleeves on the dress of a fairy tale princess.


‘Valerie Finnis’

But this year I decided to try Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’ too, because I was keen to sample the scent that Avon Bulbs descibe as a ‘ heavenly banana-tinged perfume’.


‘Golden Fragrance’

Well, the perfume coming from the pot is strong indeed. However, most of the scent is coming from a larger white imposter in the middle of the pot and it is hard to sniff out any banana notes in the meantime.


A white imposter amongst the ‘Golden Fragrance’

The white muscari smells of pomanders, a mixture of the scent of carnations and musk.

So what the devil is this cuckoo in the nest?


Muscari muscarimi

Well, it turns out to be Muscari muscarimi (syn. M. ambrosiacum) I believe and as you can tell from the synonym, it is well known for its delicious sweet musky scent. I am guessing that the bulb is marginally larger than M. ‘Golden Fragrance’, since I placed it in the middle of the arrangement.

What luck though! I am so pleased to have ended up trying two such sweetly perfumed spring bulbs and next year there will definitely be a full pot of M. muscarimi to grace the house. Just imagine the impact of the scent of say ten spikes of those wafting about a room. Heaven.

So I am happy with this cuckoo, but bulbs do seem to be particularly prone to mix-ups. Last year one of the tulips I’d ordered for  a three-way combination was completely wrong and ruined the display.

Have you had any surprises like this, good or bad?



About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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25 Responses to A Cuckoo in the Nest

  1. FlowerAlley says:

    I loved this. I have several types of Muscari, but not these. I wrote them done on my wish list.

  2. carolee says:

    I’m putting your cuckoo on my list, too! What a happy mistake!

  3. Tina says:

    Nice surprise! Muscari will grow here in Central Texas as well, though I think it’s our toasty summers that do it in, rendering it an annual or semi-annual. Nice shots!

  4. You have quite a collection. I did not realise there were so many varieties of Muscari.

  5. Sally says:

    Grape hyacinths that come in different colours? A surprise to me. Had I seen photos of the other colours I might have been hard-pressed to see the connection. Thanks for the photos. 🙂

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    I’m glad this was a pleasant surprise. I’m inspired to do the same next year with pots.
    In my experience, I’ve learned not to go with the bargain suppliers. They ALWAYS have mix-ups and it is ridiculous to impossible to set it right. Not worth it at all.

  7. Such a lovely selection and a nice surprise too. Sounds good but not for a purist who I suspect might be rather irritated by the cuckoo.

    • I didn’t mind this at all, it was just bulb one accidently mixed in, but I hate it whenthey get a bulk order completely wrong.

      • Me too. About 20 years ago not long after we moved into our house at the time we decided to plant a copper beech hedge. New to the area my neighbour suggested I buy the whips from a local nursery. Paying 8p extra for each whip you can imagine my dismay when the whole hedge opened in Spring, green.!

  8. susurrus says:

    If it’s a mixed blessing to find an imposter in a pot of bulbs, just think what it’s like to get a white tree in a row of pink ones. I’ve seen that done often enough with crape myrtles.

    • You are right of course … that would be tremendously annoying. In the same vein have a copper beech hedge with one normal beech in it! Since it is at the end I’ve left it.

  9. Brian Skeys says:

    The blue Muscari, if happy will grow like a weed, it must prefer dryer growing conditions. Valerie Finnis is very elegant. I have a rogue daffodil in some Tahlia I bought in the autumn.

  10. croftgarden says:

    Muscari macrocarpum ‘Golden Fragrance’ is a new addition for my garden too. It emerged alittle too early and has been battered by the wind. It will be interesting to see how it does next year.

  11. I didn’t know muscari came in such an array of colours , they’re beautiful, especially the pale ones.

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