John Scheepers Beauty from Bulbs
In Focus: Muscari aucheri Blue Magic
Pictured from top to bottom: Muscari aucheri Blue Magic close-up, field field view, the Muscari aucheri Sampler and sibling Muscari "aucheri" Ocean Magic.
Muscari aucheri Blue Magic is truly a magical gift from Mother Nature. It is incredible how this tiny little bulb can produce such delicate, intricate, fragrant flowers and such a huge spring show.
Muscari aucheri Blue Magic is a selection out of Muscari aucheri, a Turkish native dating back to 1871. In a nutshell, and from a bit of a distance, Blue Magic is vivid deep sky-blue. Yet on closer inspection, each shimmering spike has a delicate and detailed color design: the top hat of fertile florets is sky blue with sterile, bead-shaped, darker sky blue florets in the middle and slightly open, deep sky blue florets with white mouths at the base. The first time that we walked in a huge field of Muscari aucheri Blue Magic in Holland is forever etched in our mind’s eye~the blueness of the field overpowered even the brilliant blue spring sky. However, what really knocked us over was the boundless grapey sweetness that permeated the air.
So Easy to Plant and Grow
Blooming in April/May in a horticultural zone 5, deer- and rodent-resistant Blue Magic grows 4″ to 6″ tall with short grass-like foliage (important because all of the flowering spikes are above the foliage). After the flowers die back, the grass-like foliage continues to grow which is a good thing: a prolonged period of photosynthesis helps bulbs grow and multiply with little baby offshoots for even more flowering spikes in future years. Once the foliage dies back, it may be raked and discarded.
As a genus, easy-to-grow Muscari are known as Grape Hyacinth for their musky grape-like fragrance: in fact, its name derives from the Latin word for musk. Muscari typically yields fall foliage which can be left alone: no need to do anything with it or to it. Muscari naturalize exceedingly well over time and bloom for three to four weeks in succession. Plant Muscari aucheri Blue Magic bulbs in the fall after the soil has cooled down to around 55 degrees F (after two weeks of sweater weather when night time temps hover in the 40s), in neutral pH, well-draining soil in good sunlight: 5″ deep and 3″ to 4″ apart. Top dress the garden three times a year with a granular organic flower bulb fertilizer: at fall planting time, spring sprouting time and when the flower starts to die back.
One of the most versatile and useful of special miscellaneous bulbs, Muscari are fabulous in large drifts, as an underplanting for Narcissi, as thick ribbon garden borders, in rock garden clusters or as a connective element between other plantings. And don’t forget the famous river of Muscari at the Keukenhof! Muscari aucheri Blue Magic is exceedingly well priced so it may be planted en masse for maximum impact! Other varieties of Muscari aucheri include Dark Eyes, Mount Hood, Ocean Magic and White Magic (that could have been called ‘Spring Blizzard’ because it creates a thick white floral carpet).