Sunday, April 17, 2011

True blue

I don't think I have ever met anyone who doesn't like blue in flowers, and I have met a good many people who are crazy about it. Meconopsis, Delphinium and Gentian are three genera that have a sort special cachet for their true blues. And all three have their "issues" that make them somewhat problematical for many to grow them. Meanwhile, Veronica spreads vast mats and positive carpets of true and dazzling blue, and no one seems to notice.

There are pink and even white veronicas, and they have their place. But most veronicas are a clear, pure blue. And most are very accommodating. The genus (including a few bona fide weeds) seems to really thrive in Colorado, and I have written for Fine Gardening and elsewhere about some of the commoner sorts.

But right now the queen of the genus (or one of the royalty anyway) is in peak bloom in my garden, and I thought I'd share a picture of it: Veronica bombycina var. bolgardaghensis is a rather long name for such a compact plant, but so be it.

When I began rock gardening a long time ago, Veronica bombycina was a rare and elusive alpine I actually grew on several occasions. The only form grown once was the Lebanese form, with pale flowers and narrower leaves. This and another subspecies were introduced over the last few decades by several Czech seed collectors: I believe my seed came from Josef Jurasek. It is the form growing on Bolgar Dag (as reflected in its name) in the Cilician Toros mountians. It is a high alpine crevice dweller there, but in Colorado it grows in almost any well drained site in a sunny rock garden or trough. And if you find a good spot, it seems to settle down: both specimens photographed today and posted here have been in the garden for five or ten years and show no sign of slowing down.

I love my gentians, dote on my delphiniums and wish I could grow more Meconopsis (horrida is the only one that seems to like us, and it's monocarpic!). But I love my veronicas, and they (bless their blue little hearts) seem to requite the love!


  1. What family has Veronica been stranded in finally? V. oltensis and V. liwanensis do the best for us as long as they are planted earlier rather than later. We've also had V. nummularia and it's flowers are so dark a blue as to be nearly invisible. It has done well over two winters but did not like this last winter, but it does reseed too. I remember how beautiful V. liwanensis looked in Colorado Alpines when it first arrived on the scene- waves of dark blue all over the slope down towards I-70.

  2. V. nummularia doesn't ring a bell: I wonder if I know it? Just like you to stump me. V. liwanensis is truly a gem, if a spready one. I have a nealry white hybrid of it that is swamping my rock garden: when are you gonna get yourself up here to help clean up these problems? We had a soaking rain last night and Denver is positively resplendent!

  3. After we get back from France on the 12th we will be up. My nephew's graduating from highschool on the 27th. We also need to pick up plants in FC and Pueblo if there are any left after the sale,...;)

  4. France, eh? You know how to hurt a guy! April in Paris....I can hear the Gershwin in the background and practically see the shimmer on the Seine. See you when we do! Have a great trip.


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