Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, April 27, 2009

Collinsia Blue Skies

This time of year the sky is

the perfect bicolor of Collinsia verna~~
See what I mean!
Lovely sky blue and white clouds.


Folks not given to being formal refer to collinsia as Blue Eyed Mary.

Mary is a sweet winter annual native to the almost all of the US and Canada. (it will grow here)
I love how the little flower head is almost always tilted, giving her a pert look.


A neighbor gave me a small start and I had hopes it would spread itself all over the beds in the dappled shade under the tall trees....But, the drought of 2007 was not a good year for anything. Especially, sweet little flowers that wouldn't mind just a bit of moisture! Needless to say, it had a pretty poor showing.

So, I ordered seeds from a small nursery in East Tennessee and spread them about the front beds... There were a few more last year...and this past summer I direct sowed even more seeds.


Collinsia verna...is a plant of moist woodlands. It grows in dappled sunlight at C&L and does nicely considering it really prefers a rich loamy, moister soil then we offer. It would be a delight if this sweetie pie flower could establish itself. My ideal would be to have it look like this photo

borrowed from Wikipedia

Instead it is sprinkled among the various perennials. Seen above with Heuchera villosa "Autumn Bride".

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Bees are the primary cross pollinators, so they are very few butterflies and skippers that visit. The flower buds and seed capsules of Blue-Eyed Mary are food for the caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus (Spring/Summer Azure). I haven't seen the butterflies yet, but you can go here to see a great photo.


Now, when you look up at a pretty blue and white sky... think of
sweet Blue Eyed Mary.

Dear friends, I hope you've all had a great weekend and enough time in your gardens. It's going to be another unusually warm day here in Middle Tennessee and with thunderstorms forecast for later this week we'll see a return of the humidity. It must be summer...I've already found ticks! I'm blaming those deer that visited last fall! Have a sweet day~~and thanks for popping over for a visit.

Gail

52 comments:

  1. Good morning Gail!! Blue eyed Mary is sure a sweet little flower. Wish that was what we had in SC, but don't think it was. Ticks are pretty active both here in VA as well as SC. Pulled two off of me already. Going to be a busy summer of checking the bod for these rotten blood sucking insects. UGH!

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  2. Gail,

    Such lovely blue! Around here, we call that sky "Carolina Blue" :-). I like your flower blue better.

    I've had a few ticks crawl on me while out in the garden, too. Yes, you can blame it on the deer. I cannot go into our woods once the temps go above 70 or I'll come out with 30+ ticks on me. Seriously -- we've counted and that's with the path mowed down by my brave husband. I'll never be able to garden in the woods here. T

    Back to pretty flowers. I thought of you yesterday while walking through the native and endangered plant garden at Duke Gardens in Durham. I'm going to email a photo to you.

    Cameron

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  3. Hi Janet...I wish it were, too it is a sweet little flower. I have noticed all along the train tracks little blue flowers...I can't get close enough to see what they are...they may be Five Spot or Nemophila maculata. I hate having to spray myself with poison to keep the bugs off! On that note...Have a delicious day! gail

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  4. Cameron,

    Carolina blue is allowed in Carolina! Isn't it the prettiest blue! The sky provides endless hours of entertainment!

    I am totally grossed out by one tick, but 30 is a horror movie! The ticks are bad this year...I am heading over to an outdoor store to get pants that are impregnated with repellent to see if they work...I can't not go into a wooded area!

    Gail

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  5. That's a beautiful flower Gail! I could see it naturalized over at Clay and Limestone very nicely. It is just too hot for April. Something is wrong with the thermostat!

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  6. Hi Gail, I'd not heard of collinsia (or Blue Eyed Mary) but it is very cute and it does indeed share the color of a cloudy sky! Very cool post. P.S. We have clay in MI, too! :)

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  7. I have added this plant to my must have list! It is perfect with the lovely shot of your garden and surely matches the blue sky today. What a great post on such a great day!

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  8. Mary is a sweet little thing Gail! So many lovely wildflowers blooming in your garden.

    Spring seems to be an endangered species the past couple of years. We seem to go straight from winter to summer here too recently. We've even had 80 degree temps in Chicago the past couple of days. Today it's supposed to be low 70's and stormy here.

    Ticks - yuk! I found one on my neck last summer. That was the first time I've had a tick on me.

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  9. Awwww, I love little Mary peeping out from underneath your larger plants. I think that's just perfect! We've had near-100-degree weather here in scenic PA this past weekend, too, with no relief in sight. Ugh!!! The poor daffodils and tulips! As for ticks, having grown up in Nashville I'm conditioned to do a quick "tick check" whenever I return to the house from any outdoor activity. Ticks and chiggers and mosquitos, oh my!!!

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  10. I love it! I have to check out more about Mary and see if it could grow here(-: Thanks for sharing(-:
    CiNdEeS' GaRdEn

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  11. Good morning Gail, such a sweet little Mary, with eyes the colors of the sky and clouds. Can we ever get enough of those colors? You make a good sales pitch for her addition to most gardens, and summer sown seed is so easy, it will have to be tried here. Now to find the seed. Do you mind sharing the source, or is it a place we could visit, even better! :-)
    Frances

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  12. Hi Gail, We've already found ticks, too-and have we ever had humidity! Already it feels like the middle of summer--it was 95 degrees yesterday and not really an enjoyable gardening day!But we worked anyway...our backyard is just about transformed. I haven't posted on it yet...but I will soon. We put sod in, made garden areas with field stone, brought in lots of compost...put in a bunch of Leland Cypress, wow...we are tired! Anyway, that is a sweet little flower...and I've never even heard of it! It looks like a larger form of lobelia, which I just posted on. Lots of blues, that's what I love! Thanks for always having such friendly & uplifting posts;-) I honestly don't know how you have time for it!! Have a wonderful day, Gail;-)

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  13. Frances, I don't mind at all and she isn't far from you! Native Gardens in Greenback TN. I had heard rumors that she was slowing down her business but I hope she will still sell the seeds...if not I am going to have to water a few areas so they will set seed at a better rate! I can see them drifting down your slope! Gail

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  14. Jan, That is exciting news about your garden transformation...but not the ticks or the hi temps! I will be sure and pop over to see your lobelia!

    Gail

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  15. Dave, it's just not right! 70s yes, hi 80s..NOT. Isn't it a cute flower...you can grow it too!

    gail

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  16. keewee, I love the blue very much and am glad you like it, too!

    Cindee, There is a native CA collinsia that would be happy in your garden!

    Monica, Yep, that clay and bothersome critters are every where! Mr I and I were discussing the pros and cons of moving...Sometimes you trade one thing for another!

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  17. OFB, 90! Yikes we were close to that but I am shocked that in PA it was that hot...the poor spring bloomers haven't a chance in that heat. My son the biologist informed me that ticks aren't killed by ordinary cold washing...which means we have to laundry any clothes we think might be tick infested in hot water! It's always something and now more then ever it's climate change! gail

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  18. She sure is sweet, Gail, and it's lovely to have those delicate blooms on the ground mirroring the lovely Tennessee skies. Can you believe it's 50+ days until summer? I was sure it was here last week. Tornado and thunderstorm warnings today -- hope we get a little moisture.

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  19. Linda, I love spring and it is passing too quickly. Maybe it will reemerge after the rain arrives here!
    The Blue Eyed Mary is a sweet flower...another one that will do nicely in your dappled shade garden!

    I really hate ticks and it's supposed to be a banner year for them! This is the first year I've seen them here in such numbers! Sigh.

    Take care!

    gail

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  20. Diana, The calendar says 50+ days but we can smell summer here already...and with the thunderstorms will arrive humidity! It's gonna be a hot time in nashville this summer!

    The skies are beautiful today and the flowers make me smile...I can deal with the summers (new mantra) ...isn't that how we all manage!

    Gail

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  21. A new aquaintance to me, but from now on, i won't be able to look at a white-clouded blu sky without thinking of it. Thanks, gail, for the introduction! Weekend was partially spent in garden here as well, gorgeous weather. Pruned a bit, weeded a bit, got to bought perovskia down into the soil, and finally assembled an obelisque for a clemtais to climb upon. Small achievements, but you gotta do it piece by piece :-)

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  22. Dear Gail.....Blue eyed Mary is a delightful and pretty little flower. I do hope that she spreads herself joyfully around your gardens.....blue sky and fluffy clouds, what a delightful description. Will I ever look at a summer sky and not think of her........

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  23. I wasn't familiar with it but it is very pretty. I love the blue flowers.

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  24. Hi Gail, what a little charmer. I've never seen it, must be too dry here too. I can see why you love it. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a carpet of it under everything;)
    Marnie

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  25. Happy Monday Gail. You don't have to start seeds indoors when you have such good luck sprinkling them about outside. This is for sure a sweet flower. I'm not familiar with it but I'd certainly like our skies to match her coloring. We have overcast and snow/rain mix (yet again). Seems hard to believe you're hot and have ticks!

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  26. Kathleen, I wish it weren't so...but it is 82! Do I see decent weather moving into the CS's area of Colorado?

    You can grow Blue Eyed Mary...search for this one...Collinsia parviflora (Blue-Eyed Mary) Maybe someone in the area will be selling her...she's a native wildflower! You sow the seeds like you do for California Poppy...so there is time for them to grow a bit...then the snow covers them...Nice huh!

    Gail

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  27. Blue Eyed Mary really is a darling -- and you're right! She mirrors the colour of that sky perfectly. :)

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  28. Thanks for introducing me to a beautiful plant I had not heard of. How'd you get it to match the sky like that ?!

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  29. Sorry about the ticks, those things creep me out! Collinsia is a beautiful flower, but the name reminds me of the odious churchman from "Pride & Prejudice."

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  30. It's a lovely little flower Gail. It would look great in your wooded garden. I don't think it would make it down here.
    I was able to work in the garden most of the day. It didn't reach 80º but it was hot for me. I did manage to get the bed ready for planting of corn & 3 kinds of squash. I just hope it all makes.

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  31. Gail, this is a new plant to me, but oh how lovely she is. And she is exactly the colors of a spring sky! It looks as though t=you have a good start now and hopefully Mary will spread in your gardens. How long does it bloom?

    Watch those nasty ticks and hope you have a wonderful gardening week.

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  32. What a sweet little flower! I am partial to anything blue... I do hope it does better this summer for you and spreads throughout the wooded area. Maybe the rain later this week will help. Love those blue skies! Ours have turned to gray today with more in the forecast for the week, too. Let's hope spring, not summer with its ticks and mosquitos, sticks around a little while longer.

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  33. Beckie, She's been blooming for a few weeks. A few flowers at a time and now the plants are taller, but the flowers are beginning to diminsh...I am going to pay special attention and try to hardest seeds...Not a detail i am good with, but ...it can't hurt to try! I did read that Blue Eyed Mary is an Illinois native.

    gail

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  34. Those are beautiful flowers - I've never seen or heard of them - and now I defintely want some.

    That's not being greedy is it?

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  35. What a pretty & delicate little native. I hope as the years progress she establishes herself nicely throughout your garden Gail. :)

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  36. I love Blue-Eyed Mary too. We used to visit a park in PA that consisted of a river bottom with acres of Blue-Eyed Mary. It was so beautiful.

    I love your shots of Blue-Eyed Mary and of the sky. Lovely!

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  37. Hellllooooooo Gail !!
    We have had such warm .. HOT ! temps like yesterday .. I was trying to do a plant resuce of some ferns before the contractor comes (he swears this week/end the deck will be up ) .. BIG sigh !
    Anyways .. that sweet little blue flower pictured with that blue sky is perfect : ) .. I love my little blue eyed grass that comes up later on .. it will remind me of this post ! : )

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  38. I would love to get Blue Eyed Mary started in our garden. There is a spot in the woods where we walk our dog that has a good stand of Mary. I so enjoy seeing these.

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  39. How lovely, Gail ... indeed the bicolor of Collinsia verna pefectly matched your stunning blue sky ... a beautiful post. (Record breaking weekend temps in 80s found me in the garden, dodging thundersorms.)

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  40. Oh My! It does look like the sky!

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  41. It takes someone very special to see clouds in flowers, Gail. :-)--Randy

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  42. Love that blue in both sky & flower, Gail. You did well to invite sweet little Mary to Clay & Limestone. Years ago, we used to see this wildflower in a couple of parks near Champaign, Illinois, sometimes in company with Mertensia/Virginina Bluebells.

    MMD is so funny! Knowing real people named Collins saved me from attaching the smug fictional clergyman to 'Collinsia'.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  43. I'd love to grow that, both in my own garden and at the gravesite of a dear friend who was a blue-eyed Mary. Could you e-mail me the name of the nursery where you got the seeds?

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  44. It is a beautiful little flower and your comparison with the sky is very apt. Such a lovely combination of colours. I hope you do get it established

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  45. Cindy, I called the Garden center and she said she was not doing the seeds anymore...I am so disappointed...Let's see if I can get the seeds for you from a few plants...Or I can send you a few plants ...If I over night them they won't be so traumatized!

    Gail

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  46. Oh, I don't want ticks! I've been lucky the past couple of years with that problem. I love the Blue-eyed Mary flower. I see I can grow it here, so on the list it goes. Reminds me of the little pansies, with their uptilted faces.
    Brenda

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  47. That really is a beautiful flower.

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  48. It is so sweet. Looks cool with the sky pictures. I do believe you'll have that field of them that you so desire. And now..we all want one too.

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  49. What a lovely little flower--and you are right! It looks so much like those gorgeous blue skies and white clouds. I love the name--Blue Eyed Mary. Now, I am off to find my list of must have plants to put Mary on the list...

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  50. Hi Gail,
    This is a new one to me! I'll have to keep my eye out for seeds/plants, because it would do well in the Woodland Garden.

    ACK about the ticks! I loathe them ... which reminds me we need to get some Frontline+ for Hanna soon. Too bad they don't have a human version that works that well! At least they're not usually a problem here in the city, but out in the country is a whole nother story!

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  51. Gail, I love they way you began this post with photos of the skies, which lead to these flowers. They are stunning little blossoms, and do indeed resemble the sky! :-) Happy Day!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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