Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's the Difference?

Nope, this isn't a quiz. But the similarity between scilla (on the left) and chionodoxa, also know as glory of the snow (above) has puzzled me for years. Apparently, and accidentally, I grow both. But I couldn't tell 'em apart. Both of these low-growing spring beauties produce nodding blue flowers in early April. Both reproduce with wanton abandon. Both make lovely delicate bouquets.

It nagged at me....which was which?

Last week, when these guys sprang up once again in several areas in my garden, I decided it was time to teach myself a lesson. I grabbed my garden journal and plunked myself down nose-to-nose with a cluster of each. I wrote down their peculiarities , paying close attention to flower & leaf color, size, angle of flowering, stamen & pistil and stem. This is what I learned:

Scilla are a deeper shade of blue, and look downward. Chionodoxa are more of a pastel blue, and they look up.

I decided that's all I need to know. It's probably all you want to know, too. Both these flowers are super easy, not tasty to critters, and will carpet your garden with early spring color, then decorously disappear, leaving room for later courses. Plan to purchase the tiny bulbs by the bagful come autumn. Give them a semi-shady home and fertilize yearly with Bulb-tone. In gratitude, they'll jump about your garden to unexpected locales, but try to contrast them with daffodil 'Tete-a-Tete' for a feast for the winter-weary eye.

Not all gardening questions must be answered. Perhaps ascertaining the difference between scilla and chionodoxa is one of those questions.
Let's just enjoy them.

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