A Cuckoo in the Nest

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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.

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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.

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‘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’.

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‘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.

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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?

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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?

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Flowers, Spring and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 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.

  12. Pingback: Great Balls of Fire | Frogend dweller's Blog

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