Scilla ‘Pink Giant’ is a dry-shade survivor

Some plants survive all odds – I include myself as one of those odds – and this small bulb is one. It has stuck steadfastly with me and my sandy, dry-shade garden since 2000. 2000! This only became clear after hunting through my old Lee Valley 10-year gardener’s journal to recall the name of one of my daffodils (which I’ll show you later).

Now it has also survived a change in name. What was planted as Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ (yes, quite a mouthful) is now Scilla ‘Pink Giant’ (far easier to say). However, I prefer the old common name, glory-of-the-snow, to the rather prosaic squill, don’t you? These are in the great big asparagus family, along with surprising relatives (besides ones you might expect like Hyacinthus) from Agave to Yucca!

Each stem bears multiple florets. The leaves are small and quickly disappear after ripening.

Like other scillas, ‘Pink Giant’ does spread by self-seeding. In my garden, the sandy, dry shade does tend to keep it on the polite side, so I let it seed wherever it wants.

They’ve kindly woven themselves through the garden, blooming alongside Helleborus ‘Pink Frost’
In fact, I like the effect so much, I might add some to my bulb order this year.

And, speaking of names, this is the daffodil (ordered at the same time as the scilla) that sent me searching. What I’d called it – incorrectly, I began to suspect some years ago – was Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’. Not so! Rip is a small, spiky daff, while this one is large and beautifully blowsy, so much so that they usually land face-down in the dirt. Some googling uncovered its probable identity.

I think this might be Narcissus ‘Dick Wilden’, but my guess it was originally sent me in error when I ordered ‘Rip van Winkle’ and I’ve been calling it by the wrong name ever since. What did I know? It was twenty years ago, when I was a relative babe-in-gardens.

Their heavy-headedness has one benefit. Every year, I catch them before they fall and bring them in to brighten up the indoors. Now in 2020, twenty years after planting them, we need cheerfulness in our homes more than ever!

A vase full of sunshine by any other name…

And how are you surviving this spring?


  1. Helen – We are surviving quite happily. My few blue scillas came up, but will have to be moved because they are right in the path for the new Rose Walk. Actually, I will be moving a few things this spring, which is NOT something I regularly do, but the grape hyacinths will devour the daylilies if I don’t move them, and a rose needs to be moved because our swampy back garden has been increasing and the rose does not approve. Peonies have to be moved for the same reason. There is nothing happier than rearranging things. I love your gardens.

  2. I have meant to drop by earlier Helen .. but you know how life works right ?
    I love that pink Glory of the Snow ! .. I have seen the blue version but not the pink and it is so pretty !
    I have had Rip Van Winkle daffodil and it is an amazing little treasure .. but there you with this extraordinary one instead.
    I have never appreciated my daffs as much as I did this year .. they were like beacons of light in the garden . I have already made my Spring bulb order and there are going to be many more beacons of light happening, along with grape hyacinths and drifts of a gorgeous Darwin tulip “Beauty of Spring” .. I bet when Autumn comes I’ll be wondering WHY did I order so many bulbs, but for now I am daydreaming about next Spring ? haha

  3. What a lovely flower. Where can you order the Scilla from? I have a shady dry area and these would be such a pretty addition! Thanks!

  4. That is Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’), not Silla (Scilla siberica). Silla so far only in blue or white.

    1. Hi, Jane, it was formerly Chionodoxa, but now reclassified in the Scilla genus and often sold under the C. name. What would we do without taxonomists and their wild ways?

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