Spring Quartette Plus

Spring Quartette Plus



Many years ago, I saw clumps of Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) in bloom in May at Bluff Spring Fen.  Enchanted, that fall I bought some bulbs–maybe 7–and planted them.  Alas, not a one came up–I attributed it to squirrels digging them up.



Several years later–May 2007, one came up  and bloomed!  A year later, May 2008, 3 came up and bloomed!  I have no idea why they were dormant for so long.


Wild Hyacinth does, indeed, resemble the familiar Dutch bulb Hyacinth, although these have a more delicate look.  A member of the lily family, its 6-petaled (actually tepaled), soft, light lavender-blue flowers form  a spike that grows 6-18” tall from the center of long strap-like basal leaves.  In the wild it is found in patches in both prairie and savanna, although the only ones I have ever seen were those at a savanna in Bluff Spring Fen, pictured above.


Mine are planted in part shade amongst drifts of Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) and Shooting Star (Dodecatheon media) and, of course–you know what I’m going to say next– a few sedges.  I have Carex radiata, a small, mounded sedge, less than a foot tall, Carex brevior, a 1-2’ upright, clump-forming sedge, and of course, Penn Sedge.


An unplanned, happy surprise–serendipity– occurred when previously planted  Yellow Pimpernell  (Taenidia interigerrima) bloomed at the same time as the pink and lavender composition, the golden yellow adding punch to the picture.

Yellow Pimpernel belongs to the Umbelliferae that always adds grace and interest to any composition.  The bright yellow umbells show off against its exquisite, divided Columbine-like foliage.  It is found in open woodlands and also prairies. Self-seeding,   In addition to the three I planted in my savanna island, there are a half a dozen new plants in the border savanna garden–a most welcome addition.




How beautiful is this?  This is in bloom in my garden today in very light shade and in mesic soil.


In May, 2012, I now have  6 Wild Hyacinth plants with 8 blooms in my savanna island.


Have any of you had experience with Camassia scilloides or Taenidia interigerrima?  I’d love to hear about it.

Jack Shouba sent me this photograph of Wild Hyacinth growing and blooming in Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Il.  I believe they are in bloom now–check it out!

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8 Responses to Spring Quartette Plus

  1. Shirley Pflederer May 8, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    The first time I saw Camassia was at the Chicago Botanical Garden. Beautiful! Chatting at our last NK Wild Ones board with Mary Alice and Karen we all agreed they are on our “want” list. Last year I started a Sedge Garden and they would be a good addition. We also saw some at the gardens in Possibility Place.

  2. Jack Shouba May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Wild hyacinth is one of my favorites. The savanna at Wolf Road Prairie (on 31st St at Wolf Road, in Westchester has an incredible display every spring.

    Wild hyacinth takes several years (one source says 5 years) from seed to bloom, so it is better to start with bulbs.

    Finally, to correct a typo, they have 6 “petals” (often called tepals in the lily family).

  3. Chuck Peterson May 8, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    They are also prevalant at Les Arends Forest Preserve and Campton Hills Park (James Breen now) A beautiful plant.

  4. mike May 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Pat, where do you buy your plants? I haven’t seen Wild Hyacinth or Yellow Pimpernell at the local native sales. I’m in Chicago.thanks.

  5. PatHill May 9, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I purchased every plant I ever bought for my native plant gardens at The Natural Garden in St. Charles. Midwest Groundcovers has taken it over since it went out of business. They do carry Wild Hyacinth in flats, but not Yellow Pimpernell. Ask and you shall receive–request these plants from your local nurseries and they will grow them.

  6. Sue Harney May 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    I am getting some of these for my woods. I love them!

  7. mike weis May 11, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    I’m confused about the procedure of buying plants from Midwest Groundcovers. I loved Natural Garden and miss it so much. Is there a store for Midwest Groundcovers that is open to the public like N.G.?

    • PatHill May 19, 2012 at 6:20 am #

      Yes, Midwest Groundcovers does have a retail center on Rt 25 north of St. Charles.

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