Sunday, May 31, 2009

Arching Bells

Maybe because its Latin name could inspire fear in any designer, or maybe because it isn't seen often, but Nectaroscordum siculum ssp. Bulgaricum should be used by more garden and landscape designers. A bulb, hardy from zones 6-10, it is delicate yet architectural with mauve, ivory and pale green bells arching from a single stem. N. siculum is sometimes called the Sicilian Honey Lily or sold as Mediterranean Bells. It is another underused plant that deserves more attention.

I have used it in my garden as well in those of several clients. The deer don't eat it and it starts its show right after the alliums--to which it's related. The leaves, like alliums, aren't terribly attractive and can easily be hidden by careful planting design that allows N. siculum to punctuate shorter plants with more interesting foliage. The first time I saw it in a garden, its companion was Hosta 'Sum and Substance' and the combination stopped me in my tracks.

A European native, this bulb is easy to grow in sun or partial--so easy in fact that these have been slowly multiplying in an abandoned garden near here for as many years as I can remember.

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