Camassia (was On trilliums and more)

Jane McGary
Mon, 05 Jun 2006 11:12:08 PDT
Matt wrote, I do love C. leichtlinii
>semiplena, in fact, I just featured it on my blog,

Some people, including garden writers, regard this plant as ugly. It is a 
large form, up to a meter tall, with semidouble greenish cream flowers. I 
think to look good, it has to form a large colony, as mine now have. One 
problem is that the flowers close up at night and in dim weather, so they 
don't appear at their best except on sunny days.

Camassia is a neglected genus in the garden, even here where it is native. 
The leaves, like those of Colchicum, are large and floppy and die away 
unattractively in midsummer. One particularly good form is the population 
of C. quamash that grows around Puget SOund in Washington; it has been 
distributed as seed under the name "Puget Blue." It's quite large and deep 
in color, and comes true from seed here. 'Orion', a Dutch C. quamash 
selection, is a dwarf form only about 10 in/25 cm tall, dark blue. 'Blue 
Melody', also Dutch, has attractively cream-margined leaves and mid-blue 
flowers; it's also short-growing. There is a good deep blue form of C. 
leichtlinii growing in ditches around here, but to my shame I have not 
brought it into the garden; I must remember to throw a shovel in the car 
one day soon and dig some. The more typical C. leichtlinii (from which the 
double form discussed above is derived) has cream flowers and grows more to 
the south. I also grow C. cusickii from eastern Oregon, but its pale 
gray-blue flowers don't please me much.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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