The genus Scilla (now considered to be in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae) is a beautiful group of plants from Europe, mostly the Mediterranean region. Of all of the 50 or more species (the genus seems to be in a state of confusion, many species being separated from the genus Scilla to new genera), Scilla siberica is by far the most commonly sold. This species is a variable one, with colors ranging from near white to deep blues. Bloom time is also variable, as some are in bloom now while others seem to wait until mid-March. Above in the foreground is a form with magenta margins, though for whatever reason the camera recorded it as pink. Perhaps the blaring sun didn't agree with the white balance settings?
The flowers of S. siberica are pendant, probably to avoid the pollen or nectar being diluted by early season rains. This is a common feature of Mediterranean geophytes, along with other strategies like closing at night (or during cloudy weather, another feature of S. siberica in fact). Actually, the Mediterranean receives so much summer rain, it barely qualifies as having a "Mediterranean" climate by the standards of what a "Mediterranean" climate is here in the Western United States!
This is one of my favorite spring bulbs. It is versatile, able to withstand a variety of conditions (relative shade, sun, wet, dry, etc.) and deer and rodents avoid it! Slugs, on the other hand don't mind that it is poisonous, and readily snack on the unopened flower buds. This one, however, was never found by a slug. I appreciate the gradient of colors in the scape. From green towards the base, fading to a reddish color, transitioning to the purple pedicels, and finally to the vibrantly blue flowers.
|Scilla siberica with a bumblebee|
And bees love them! Of course, flower density and placement in a Southern exposure will increase the chances of attracting bees. The Southern exposure gets the late winter sun, so long as trees or a structure aren't blocking it. Bees are more likely to choose flowers in sunny areas, even if they are the same type. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I have planted something from across the ocean, and it feeds the locals! But in the end, it is just a small payment to a great debt.