Jane McGary
Thu, 27 Oct 2011 09:15:30 PDT
Carol wrote,
I have become enamored of the camassia group, and came across a photo of a
>Camassia quamash var. maxima Puget Blue in an article on the PBS website.
>It  looks sturdier than the camassia quamash I have grown and I would love to
>buy  some bulbs. Is there a source for these that you can refer me to? I'm
>in NW  Connecticut HZ 5b.

I haven't seen any source of bulbs, but it comes true from seed. 
which is sometimes available in the NARGS Seed Exchange. I've been 
growing it for many years, but I don't have access to bulbs at the 
moment as it is dormant in the garden and I'm not sure exactly where 
it is. "Puget Blue" is not a cultivar name, it seems to be just a 
garden name for this subspecies or variety. This plant is in fact 
larger than more typical Camassia quamash and the flowers are a good 
blue. I would expect C. quamash to be hardy in Connecticut, and 
although its natural habitat dries out in summer, it tolerates summer 
moisture well too.

There are several commercial clones of C. quamash available, 
including a very small, dark blue one with narrow leaves called 
'Orion' and one with variegated foliage called, I think, 'Blue Melody'.

Regarding the photo Gene Mirro has of C. leichtlinii, this shows the 
deep blue form of this species, which also grows around the Clackamas 
River near where I live. The species is particularly interesting 
because it shows a continuum of color forms, from deep blue in the 
northernmost part of Oregon's central valley (the Willamette Valley) 
to white in the southern end of the valley. In late spring you can 
view the progression of color forms as you drive along I-5, where it 
grows in roadside ditches. The main horticultural variety of this 
species is a semidouble greenish white form called, I think, 
'Alboplena'. The latter is not regarded by some as attractive, but a 
good clump of it can be all right in the border.

Rarely grown in gardens is C. cusickii from the inland Northwest, 
which is tall and pale blue. I found it an easy garden plant, though.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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