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Bluebell Bulbs

Useful Info And History For The Home Gardener



NORTH-AMERICAN NATIVE BULBS

The species below grow from seeds and will normally thrive in any type of soil as long as they are provided with a fair amount of moisture, which makes them easier to establish here. Most are very resilient and suitable for naturalising in British gardens, as they grow in the wild, in their native territories, in woodland environments similar to those encountered here, in terms of temperatures, soil types, shade and humidity. Moreover, quite a few species are impressive through their imposing height.

Aside from their undeniable decorative value, which ranges from foliage displaying intricate patterns to beautiful colour-changing blooms, many of these species are associated with their captivating use by Native American populations for various purposes, and thus present a higher degree of interest in those appreciating ‘plants with a past’. There are species used by various tribes for their pigments in producing dyes, species used for cooking and others used in defence strategies in order to poison their enemies – many varieties are thus steeped in history an folklore.

CAMASSIA

Native to many areas of Canada as well as the US, these plants have a long history of usage both by Native Americans and colonists alike. Their ornamental qualities are blatant, as these plants produce beautiful, long lasting flowers; some however have alternative uses as well. Their growing requirements vary, especially in terms of preferred soils, some growing successfully in moist areas, whereas other prefer dryer conditions.

Camassia quamash

Origin: North America

Flowering: May, June

A very common plant in North America, it is often seen near rivers and streams, as well as on open pastures. Flowering in late spring and early summer, it boasts small star-shaped flowers of a lovely blue. It reaches a height of approximately 12 inches and naturalises well in grass, creating a unique visual effect. As a particularity, its rhizomes were once used for cooking by Native Americans, either by baking after harvesting or drying and grinding into flour.

Caerulea - Camassia leichtlinii

Origin: North America

Flowering: May, June

A spectacular plant with spiking blooms rich in blue petals, this variety also prefers humid soils, preferably those which don’t dry out and provide a constant level of moisture. It makes a delightful landscaping feature near hedgerows and also naturalises well in grass. In terms of shape, its flowers are also reminiscent of stars.

Camassia leichtlinii alba

Origin: North America

Flowering: June, July

Blooming a bit later, at the start of the summer season, this species develops flowers identical in shape to the blue variation, differing only in colour, its petals being of a soft, pure white which gives them a delicate appearance. It requires the same growing conditions as other closely related species.

Camassia leichtlinii Semiplena

Origin: North America

Flowering: June, July

With pastel beige petals and a much fuller corolla, this is the denser Camassia variety and also flowers during the summer season. Akin to its differently coloured relatives, the flower of its blooms resembles that of stars. It thrives in drier conditions, in average to dry soils.

TRILLIUM

As charming and mysterious woodland plants, trillium love the shade, as well as moist fertile soils, preferably rich in humus and leaf mould. They are renowned for their three petal corollas and also trifoliate leaves, their blooms and foliage achieving perfect shape symmetry. Their average height ranges between 8 and 12 inches, their blossoming season stretching from the middle of spring to the beginning of summer, a time during which they remain a constant embellishment to any landscape. In order to achieve the best results, rhizomes should be planted deeply and protected from intense sunlight exposure, in well-drained soils with a neutral to acidic PH.

Wake Robin - Trillium grandiflorum

Origin: Eastern North America

Flowering: April, May, June

Growing freely in North American forests, particularly on the eastern side of the continent, this plant creates splendid views when naturalised in grass. It has soft flowers of immaculate white, around 3 inches long, which in time fade to a pastel pink. Its height is known to range between 12 and 18 inches and its propitiously planted in full sun or partial shade.

The Toad TrilliumTrillium sessile

Origin: Eastern North America

Flowering: April, May, June

With elegant burgundy flowers surrounded by varicoloured leaves combining multiple tones of green, it creates quite a visual effect amidst other type of vegetation and is commonly found in woodlands. Its height ranging between 8 and 12 inches, it grows ideally in rich soils and is a shade-loving plant, as are many growing freely in woodlands.

Trillium luteum

Origin: South-eastern United States

Flowering: April, May, June

Fairly similar to Trillium sessile in terms of structure and needs, and particularly its foliage, this plant produces beautiful yellow flowers in mid spring, lasting well into June. Only requiring medium maintenance, it also produces a strong, sweet fragrance which perfumes the air around it.

Trillium erectum

Origin: North America

Flowering: April, May, June

Its foliage resembling that of Trillium grandiflorum, it grows impressively large crimson flowers blooming in mid spring. What is particular about it is its resistance to extreme cold in the winter, which makes it durable and reliable.

BLOODROOT

Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis

Origin: North America

Flowering: April, May

Blooming in mid spring, this species grows dainty white flowers and owes its name to the fact that its tuber is saturated with a red fluid, which makes it seem enlivened by blood. Actually, Native Americans once used it for decorative body painting as well as dying textiles, which is no longer practiced due to its discovered toxicity. Its most auspicious conditions consist of dappled shade and a fertile soil, preferably covered in leaf mould. It tolerates soils of various degrees of humidity, from moist to dry.

ARISAEMA

Arisaema - Arisaema triphyllum

Origin: NorthAmerica

Flowering: May

Growing at its best in humid and dark environments such as woodlands,the Arisaema is not problematic for naturalising in Britain. Throughout spring it develops its foliage and near the beginning of summer it unfolds its lovely blooms, decorated with purple stripes. Also, female plants generate glossy red berries, which add to this plant’s attractiveness. Care should be taken however not to ingest any part of the plant, as, even if the rhizome has been used by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes, other parts are highly toxic to humans.