|I love how the little flower head is almost always tilted, giving her a pert look|
|The flower reminds me of the colors of the spring sky|
|This is what I look for starting in February|
Blue-Eyed Mary is a winter annual that can be found growing in rich deciduous woodlands from New York to Wisconsin and down into Tennessee. Like other winter annuals it germinates in the fall and overwinters as small two or three leaved seedlings that begin growing again in February. That's why I begin my search so early.
|another small flower that requires crawling on knees to really see|
I've tried for years to get it established at Clay and Limestone, starting back in 2006 when I ordered seeds from the Native Garden Nursery. They arrived along with seeds for Purple Phacelia, a sweet native clematis and excellent planting instructions. But, just when I think it's here to stay, they all, but disappear. I am not alone in my curiosity about their iffiness! Botanists researching Collinsia verna have observed dramatic fluctuations year to year in germination rates in woodland colonies. Of course they decided to set up an experiment or two in which they were able to determine that if bumbles and other pollinators weren't available that Blue-Eyed Mary will self fertilize. Pretty cool! If you want to know more about the study follow the link~(research study sited)
The bumbles were out and about last spring and surely visited the small colony, but, even if they missed the Marys, maybe they self-pollinated and dropped seeds that didn't germinate. I've concluded that a long hot, dry summer followed by an even drier fall made it especially difficult for germination. The good news is that if the plants dropped seeds then, they are likely to be found dormant in the C and L soil seed bank just waiting for optimal conditions! I might have to provide a little water if Mother nature repeats last year's especially dry fall.
|there are usually four seeds per flower|
I still search for seeds and plants every year.
|the transplants have already perked up in the garden|
|I sure hope the Bumbles do their job this year and that Mother nature cooperates with good fall rain|
More facts about Blue-Eyed Mary:
- Collinsia verna is a plant of moist woodlands and will germinate better if soil is moist and cool in the fall.
- It grows taller and stronger in full sunlight, but, requires consistently moist, well draining soil. Give it dappled sunlight and moist soil in a southern garden.
- One thing to keep in mind is that Blue Eyed Mary seeds are germinating at exactly the same time that many gardeners are raking leaves and cleaning up their gardens. Gardeners who like to let leaves remain in place are going to have better success in keeping Collinsia verna in their garden.
- The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. The flower buds and seed capsules of Blue-Eyed Mary are food for the caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus (Spring/Summer Azure).
- If they bloom before Bumbles are out and about they can self pollinate.
- They're now listed as an endangered plant and have protected status in many states.
- I pinky swear to let you all know where to find seeds.
- I forgot to say, that Terri Barnes of GroWild shared seeds with me, too. Terri, they did germinate, I just found tiny little seedlings. xo
Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone." She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.