Quamash was the name the Native Americans gave this lovely flower, which served them in part as a food source, being made into flour and cooked mashes. In our garden, it's purely an ornamental for us, but one we hope will naturalize freely ... as it is supposedly want to do. We first discovered them back in 2005 in the Van Bourgondien's catalogue ... and we were immediately hooked and had to order a few (I think we got about 10 bulbs). Since then, they have graced our Woodland Garden each late Spring (just before the Wood Hyacinths, thus becoming the penultimate bulbs to bloom for us, save the Dragon arum).
As far as most spring bulbs are concerned, they're relatively unobtrusive, because they look so much like a tall grass at first, that is, until they start budding out, and they could easily be mistaken for a weedy grass if you weren't looking for them. But, for the watchful eye, they are fleeting beauties to behold during their short bloom span (about a week or so, depending on the weather). Our biggest mistake was to plant them initially rather spread out over a large area, and we've since concluded that we should have (and will in the future) plant them more in masses, rather than dispersing them amongst the daffodils as we did back in 2005 when they were first planted.
Camassia quamash, definitely deserves at least one mass planting (say 10-20 bulbs to start) in the garden if you're going to cultivate this plant ... at this point we can only imagine how a mass planting of these beauties would look in the waning days of May ... And we're betting that it would look much more impressive than our current showing of a few here and there. Gardening lessons learned aside, we're really glad that we can look forward to seeing them right around the time the Spanish Bluebells and peonie are revving up in late May! They may not last very long, but they're stunning while they do!
Overall garden update ... I spent several hours today "clawing" and digging up stuff just behind the house, in the space we just let go last year, ridding it of a lot of mint, yellow rogue, violets, creeping charlie and lambsquarter ... all to clear out for some peppers, a tomato, cucumbers and some new thyme and sage plants. It was an all afternoon project that wore me out, but at the end of the day, I had a wheelbarrow full of weediness ready for the compost. And a clear space to plant our relatively limited selection of edible peppers for the season ... a jalapeño, cherry bomb, Cubanelle and several basic sweet bells. At this point we've given up on growing bells in the main veggie garden because it's too fertile for them... and the dirt right behind the house has successfully grown peppers in the past. The fickle discovery we've made about peppers is that if the soil is too rich we get great plants, but few fruit, so they're back behind the house this year. Here the soil is just 'Ok' and seems more welcome to peppers, so in the interest of actually harvesting some more, this is where the peppers reside now. I got all the peppers we have purchased in at this point and with the addition of two yellow bells my sister is going to give me, we're almost done here.
This year, though, I decided we have enough room in this bed (now cleared, yay!) to put in a pretty broad row of Zinnias behind them to provide some floral interest later in the summer. Tomorrow, I'm going to section this area out a bit to plant a bush 'Celebrity' tomato (a smaller variety), some bush Cucumbers and the new thyme and sage plants, as well as some basil seeds and other herbs. We're reserving a bit of space for a few ornamentals such as Hollyhocks, Zebrina Mallow, Purple Coneflower and Sea Holly. From veggies to ornamentals, we really hope to make this usually wasted space perform for us again! Stay tuned for some future updates ...
And apologies for all the lush looking Wood Violets I dug up and discarded to the compost today. But I did save the lone tulip who comes up back here ... it's just a simple white Darwin, but it's tenacious, so I'm not going to disturb it at this point!