Field of Science

Peak blue: Is it a blue bell?

A youngish neighbor politely asked if the carpet of blue flowers were blue bells.  No.  But it illustrates the uselessness of common names in general.  Has there ever been a blue pendant flower that hasn't been called a blue bell?  The North American blue bell is more of a trumpet in the Borage family and the English/Spanish blue bells are very similar to hyacinths, so not even closely related, but more bell shaped. This year peak blue was judged to have been reached on Sunday 29 March, which is more or less pretty close to the usual date for this event.  The Phactors live in an oldish house (bit over 100) in an oldish neighborhood. So trees have had a chance to get big, but other rather old plants do not respond the way.  Often they form a large patch that continues to grow larger in diameter.  Our blue bells are (Scilla siberica) a small bulb forming lilyish plant, sometimes called squill,  that bears 2-4 flowers just a bit over a cm in diameter.  They scoff at cold early spring temperatures (note the specific epithet suggests a Siberian origin) and late snows mean nothing to its flowering as TPP has noted in this spot in previous years (a quick search on blue lawn will uncover a number of blog posts on this subject and similar topics (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Parts of our lawn are a continuous carpet of blue flowers.  And while a lawn mowing hassle (see green slime), peak blue is immensely cheerful, even in the middle of a pandemic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dearest Phactor,

my first year growing this flower and restricted to a small trough - but what a stunner - and as you say a great spirit-lifter in early Spring and at this strange time.

Keep safe, keep well and keep posting !