One of the last of the spring-flowering bulbs to bloom in my garden, Ornithogalum magnum, also known as Star of Bethlehem, stands tall and graceful in my rock garden.I had quite forgotten I’d planted these, and when I saw big, strappy leaves growing in the same area as some Allium, I just assumed they were some variety of Allium. I became a bit confused, though, when the tightly budded flower heads appeared conical rather than spherical. By luck, I ran across the invoice from John Scheepers last week and learned the true identity of my mystery “Allium”!
Once the flower stalk began to grow and develop buds, the plant’s wide leaves wilted to the ground and began to yellow. In my crowded perennial bed, they are well hidden:Ornithogalum magnum flowers from the bottom up toward the top of its flower head. Its buds are tightly packed together. Each white star-shaped flower is just under an inch wide, and features a tiny creamy yellow eye and a pale green stripe on the reverse of each of its six petals. Its straight, sturdy stalks range in height from 26 to 42 inches, making it an ideal candidate for the back of a border. It began blooming in my Zone 5b garden in early June, simultaneously with Allium Christophii. The two together nicely bridge the gap between the profusion of spring flowers and the riot of summer color yet to come. Thus far, Ornithogalum has flowered for two weeks, and it is not done yet. I cannot yet report on its naturalization tendencies, but the reading I’ve done tells me I can expect to see these come back well in subsequent years. I hope this is true, because I am truly delighted with this flower!