Actually, these aren’t real grapes. They just look like them — upright clusters of tiny grapes, usually in shades of blue or purple, sometimes white, depending upon their particular variety. Blue hyacinths line the edges of my front entrance beds on both sides of the driveway. They offer a delightful contrast to the yellow and white tulips currently taking the place of earlier crocuses.
The genus Muscari derives from the Greek word for musk, a perfume fixative used for its persistently heavy scent. If we play with this Greek derivative, we discover Muscadine (c. 1785), a Southern grape with small clusters that smell like musk.
My father’s Scuppernong grapes, a great favorite in the South, were a muscadine variety. Yes, he did produce a sweet homemade wine.
Muscat (c. 1548) is any of several cultivated grapes used for making wines and raisins.
Muscat Canelli is one of my favorite white wines that have become rather hard to find, even before the Pandemic.
Muscatel, from Old French muscadel and Middle English muskadell, is both a sweet fortified wine and a variety of raisin.
Getting a bit dizzy over all these varietals? We’ve wandered too far from the hyacinth bulb genus, muscari. The particular variety in my garden is the Muscari armeniacrum, among the more common found home gardens. They tend to spread and, if allowed free reign, will naturalize in other areas, even the lawn. Some are taking over the path to the front gate arbor. After they finish their bloom and begin to go dormant in late summer, I’ll dig those up and transplant them back into the edging, three inches deep.
Winter is having a difficult time letting go, teasing with 28-degree nights alternating with bright days. In spite of it all, my front dooryard garden again pushes through with more blues and yellows. Lemony tulips took their waking slow, like Theodore Roethke’s poem, but this morning here they are!
Grape hyacinths now are in full bloom after working to make their presence known.
The first time I saw grape hyacinths and tulips together was in an old garden magazine. Muscari armeniacum throws fragrant spikes of bright flowers that create a river of blue when planted en masse, like here. I planted mine decades ago as an edging to the front bed; when they self sow and scatter volunteer plants, willy nilly, I dig them up after they finish blooming and replant them, thus creating an ever-growing edging. But wouldn’t a virtual river of hyacinths be fun?
Low growing woodland violets edge the concrete porch floor, adding another layer of purple. By summer their umbrella leaves will enlarge to shade the blossoms, but for now the flowers take the stage.
The peonies look like this as they get ready for their big show in another month.
But the little bunch of Ladies Mantel already has made an appearance.
That’s my “Six on Saturday” for this week. Watch for further developments as the season progresses, as several perennials have yet to do their thing.
Becky says April is a square month and, because it’s coming up on the Easter season, following Holy Thursday and Good Friday, she wants us to post the bright things in life.
I’ll start off with these bright yellow daffodils that make me think of Wordsworth. One day he wandered, sad and lonely as a cloud, in his English lake district, when suddenly he came upon a field of wild daffodils . . . .
Here on the western side of Washington state, commercial fields of daffodils are laid out in long rows of hybridized bulbs near Pullyalup. That’s Mount Rainier in the center background.
In the Deep South where I grew up, spring bulbs in the daffodil family bloom in late February and into early March. My mother used to grow her daffodils along the front fence, with purple pansies planted at their feet. These are among my earliest childhood memories.
At the other end of the geographical spectrum, Maine, it’s almost May before daffodils begin to emerge and, finally in May, bloom — according to the journals of May Sarton.
Do daffodils grow in your area? When do they bloom?
Since childhood, I have pictured March as a red month, notwithstanding Ireland’s green for St. Patrick’s Day. I wonder why? Perhaps it was because of the red sweater worn by a little girl in a storybook illustration of the month of March. Or perhaps it was the March Hare telling a story to children. After all, he’s wearing a red coat, albeit with ermine trim.