May's plant of the month

Camassia

The gardeners have one of the best views of the gardens with, in the foreground, the orchard meadow. The meadow wakes slowly at the beginning of the year with the first tentative primroses and early daffodils. Now, in May, the area is punctuated by the tall blue spires of Camassia. Even before the flowers appear the glaucous spears of the foliage are a handsome sight.

The first of the Camassias to flower are the dark blue forms, followed by those with china-blue flowers and, finally, the pure white cultivars. Each plant consists of 100 or so star-like flowers that open from the bottom of the stem upwards to form a dense column of flowers. The bulbs are perfect for naturalising in grass and soon form large colonies. The foliage dies away by midsummer.

Camassias are indigenous to North America and the bulbs were once a staple of native Americans.

Click on the image gallery for each month’s special plant, and return here next month to discover more about our plant of the month for June.