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Camassias in the Spring Garden

Bright blue Camassia flower above green spring foliage
Camassia leichtlinii

After a warm and sunny weekend, the temperatures have once again dropped. Despite the crispness in the air the garden is continuing on its journey. Heading quietly toward summer. Bright green leaves unfurl, flower buds form, bees awaken and bumble about and bird song amplifies.

Walking in my garden this week I notice the bright blue Camassia flowers starting to unfurl. Each upright flower spike consists of a number of star shaped flower-heads, creating a striking spire that rises above the newly emerging spring foliage in the border below. The strap-shaped, upright leaves rise up from the base of the plant, surrounding the single stem.

Camassia is an easy and unfussy plant to grow. Plant bulbs in sun or light shade in Autumn, or plant out as a potted specimen in early spring. They don't take up much space so can be fitted in between other later emerging plants.

I've planted Camassia bulbs randomly in sunny sections of my garden to create a naturalistic feel, but you can also plant in bold drifts or you can naturalise in areas of grass. Camassia's are hardy in the UK (they are native to the Pacific Northwest of the US) and once planted will continue to flower for years to come. You may decide to divide the bulb clumps after a few years to thin out the existing plants.

As with most of the plants in my garden, I've selected Camassia because they fulfill a number of functions. Not only do they look beautiful and work well in a naturalistic planting scheme, but they're a good plant for bees and other insects too. If you have an abundance they also make an excellent cut flower. The bulbs themselves are edible too (although they need boiling for quite a few hours before they can be eaten and I much prefer them flowering in my garden!). They're also super easy to look after, requiring little or no attention.


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