Thinking About Wildflowers Once Again

While reading a magazine that comes from across the pond, the UK version of The English Garden, an article was noticed in the March 2012 issue, “SPEEDWELL & the song bird”, written by Chris Beardshaw. This is part of his series on native plants and wildlife. The Speedwell of which he speaks so eloquently is Veronica hederifolium. (The song bird is the song thrush.) He writes:

“Considered one of the most problematic of annual is often best to simply accept it. Its very presence testifies to the high quality of the soil structure and fertility, so we should perhaps see its occurrence as the ultimate compliment”

It is good to see that the Brits are finally being advised to stop doing battle against their native weeds er, wildflowers. That has been the method here for some time. I recognized this wildflower that had originated in Europe and made the trek, or sail, across the pond to land in Tennessee. (At least I think this is what it is.)

It was first noticed in the wilderness of the garden beds of daughter Semi, the sweet pure blue flowers peering up amidst the grasses and weeds. Semi takes a very nonchalant approach towards weeding.

“What is that?”, I asked her, for on occasion, rarely, but sometimes, she buys a plant without me at her side. “Just a weed.” was her answer, “Do you want some? I will dig it for you.”

Home it came to the Fairegarden, planted in a couple of places to see how it would behave.

It is an annual and produces mass quantities of seeds, according to the magazine article, but the seedlings pop up here only sparingly. It is a beautiful thing, as are all of the Veronica clan. Several are grown here and are given the best of treatment, including the groundcover Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’, also blooming now. Note the similarity in flower color and form. So says Mr. Beardshaw:

“Dainty flowers…are carried singularly, each one four petalled and flushed with azure blue parallel brush marks. At the centre, a diminutive white ring indicates the presence of the nectaries, stamen and style, the former offering rewards to aphid-munching ladybirds…”

The British certainly know how to turn a fancy phrase with flourishes, especially when it comes to writing about gardening, it is true. But while their wildflowers are the stuff of myths and legends, North America has some beauties of its own, now coming into view. Claytonia virginica and Antennaria ssp. were spied while we had the camera in hand, rooting around under fallen leaves for surprises.

For more about wildflowers, featured on the fourth Wednesday of every month, and appreciated every single day of the year, check out Gail at Clay And Limestone!


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15 Responses to Thinking About Wildflowers Once Again

  1. Anne Boykin says:

    Beautiful little flower! I always enjoy your posts. Thank you.

    Thanks Anne, how sweet of you to say so! I do appreciate you and all of my readers.

  2. I love my wildflowers and have been sharing them monthly as well…there is something so special and almost mystical about these flowers that have been on the land for thousands of years.

    Hi Donna, thanks for participation in the sharing of the wildflowers. I agree, they are full of lore and magic and are obviously strong survivors, in spite of the misguided efforts of some humans to eradicate them.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Hmmmmm this seems to be one weed, I mean flower, I don’t have in my garden. That blue is a beautiful hue.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. This plant is so tiny, lays flat on the ground, that you could have it and not know it. It is often in lawns, but the blue flowers are so small, you have to get down on hands and knees to see it. Mine seeded itself in concrete covered pathways, so it was easier to spot. I was sitting on the riser, doing some mindful weeding when it was noticed!

  4. Lea says:

    Beautiful blue!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea’s Menagerie

    Thanks Lea. There are no flowers are blue as those Veronicas. Happy WW to you!

  5. Gail says:

    Frances, I love this little speedwell! The blue is sunny and delightful. It’s growing all over my neighbor’s small slope and on sunny days it looks like the sky is reflected on her lawn. So glad you shared this pretty little naturalized flower with us. xogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. It is a sweetie pie, very tiny with those little dots of blue. It is often found in lawns that don’t get that killer chemical treatment. What a treasure it is.

  6. michaele says:

    I am not familiar with veronica hederifolium but am certainly a huge fan of Georgia Blue. It is, for me, the most desirable of very low growing groundcovers. I adore it’s sprightly blue blooms which, although very tiny, create a wonderful blanket of color when they smother the plant . Just yesterday, I was admiring the first few flowers that are getting a head start and thought of all the other places I would like to transplant chunks to. Of course, right now, I am down close to the ground as I scratch out the bittercress which also likes the neighborhood so it is extra easy to give Georgia Blue looks of admiration.

    Hi Micheale, we are doing the exact same type of gardening, it sounds like, down close to the ground, pulling bittercress and having a look around at what is coming up and what can be divided! Georgia Blue is a darling here, as well.

  7. What a sweet little flower. And I love that poetic British description. So many of your photographs reveal the amazing and complex beauty in what looks quite ordinary from a distance. So glad I found this blog.

    Thanks Georgie, and welcome. You are so right about getting right up into the face of these small flowers with the camera. It reveals a whole other universe!

  8. There was a great big selection of Speedwell at the big box store this week. In large numbers those blue flowers are stunning! (and in small numbers in the garden)

    Hi Janet, good deal on the Veronica selection! Georgia Blue is often seen for sale, who can resist that blue?

  9. sandy lawrence says:

    I planted a small Georgia Blue in spring 2011, and only one to test it out in Texas hill country. It survived the heat of last summer! I was so excited. When I discovered it at Lowe’s the other day, I bought 3 more plants. I can’t get enough of this little Veronica/Speedwell. I have it planted on the SE where it gets morning sun and dappled shade in the afternoon. If it can make it through last summer in TX, and actually thrive and spread, it can make it through anything! Plus, I also have the tiny “weed” wildflower which disappears in summer but comes back each spring. So charming among the stepping stones.
    I love your gardens, Frances. I have to tell you that I have “moss envy” here in drought land! But I can enjoy yours. Thanks so much!

    Hi Sandy, thanks for joining in the Veronica love fest! We have Georgia Blue planted in the hottest and driest area of our steep slope, in full blazing summer sun. Our summers have not been as awful as those in Texas, but any plant that can live and thrive with no extra watering here is welcome. Good deal on getting some more of them, too! Thanks for those kind words, we are fortunate in our moss. Some neighbors curse the moss and spend lots trying to grow grass instead of letting the moss do its thing. What a shame.

  10. ricki says:

    What a treat to see what was formerly regarded as a pest through your eyes. I will think of you when I trade grubbing it out for hammock time.

    That’s the spirit, Ricki! Why waste the time doing something that is better off left undone. Hammock time sounds excellent.

  11. daricia says:

    frances, i always enjoy seeing the veronica starting to bloom. last year i planted ‘waterperry blue’ in between some flagstones. it continues to creep but isn’t blooming yet. i like your macros. tiny flowers are some of my very favorites.

    Hi Daricia, thanks and welcome. I also have Waterperry Blue, it will be blooming in a few weeks, not one of the early ones like these shown today. It also will grow much taller and weave through its neighbors. Such a marvelous blue!

  12. Kathy says:

    I have Veronica chamaedrys, Germander speedwell, also supposedly a weed. I really can’t tell how it’s different from your ivy-leaved speedwell, except that mine blooms late May, early June. In my quick look I didn’t find anything saying they were synonyms, either. I love every creeping and mounding veronica I have come across.

    Hi Kathy, your Veronica is lovely! It does look to be more of a mounder than a flat on the grounder like the V. hederafolia, maybe it is related to V. ‘Waterperry Blue’? I love them all, including the upright ones.

  13. Carol says:

    You have Claytonia starting to bloom already? Normally, I won’t see any here until mid-April, but you never know with this mild winter… might see it much sooner this spring.

    Hi Carol. Yes, well budded if not blooming. I was surprised to see it too, and of course it is so small I would have missed it unless I was crawling around on the ground. We might see many things show earlier than usual if this warmth continues.

  14. Steve Schwartzman says:

    In this warm Texas winter, what I’ve seen the most of, in sheer numbers, is all sorts of European invasives. In my blog, though, I show only species that are native here, many of which have begun flowering in smaller but increasing numbers for the past few weeks:

    Hi Steve, thanks for stopping by, and welcome. I love natives, too. But the plants that hitchhiked here from wherever are allowed to live in my garden on a case by case basis. Things like Queen Anne’s Lace, which I adore, but is not a native are welcome.

  15. Rose says:

    Anything this shade of gorgeous blue cannot possibly be a weed! Not that I would dare to contradict a British gardening expert, of course…

    Hi Rose, of course you wouldn’t! HA The little blue dots, as seen from a height of five feet above the earth are delightful, I agree. Hardly what I think of as a weed. Now if you are talking true weeds, the only one I consider to be in that category is crabgrass.

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