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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Collinsia verna, A Passalong Plant for Wildflower Wednesday

I love how the little flower head is almost always tilted, giving her a pert look
I have several plants that fit in the passalong category, but, none is more treasured than Collinsia verna.

The flower reminds me of the colors of the spring sky
One look at that face with its bicolored flowers and you'll know why I walk the garden looking for seedlings in late winter and early spring.  Don't you think the blue and white petals are a perfect match for a spring sky. Sigh.  It's a sweet little flower that deserves to be sown in many more gardens.

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
This year I didn't have far to go.  Just when I had about given up hope of  finding any in my garden, I  got an email from Ginny, a Clay and Limestone reader, asking me if I might want a few plants from her   Middle Tennessee garden. Want them, of course I did!   She very kindly  invited me over and I dug several clumps, toured the garden, had a fantastic visit and only managed to take one blurry photo.

I sure hope the Bumbles do their job this year and that Mother nature cooperates with good fall rain
You may be asking yourself, "What kind of garden blogger forgets to take photos!"  The kind who jumps up and down with joy when a kind reader offers to share a hard to come by flower. Thank you Ginny very much.

xxoogail

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.

39 comments:

  1. What an exquisite flower. Alas Collinsia verna is not found in the UK. However our version of Blue-eyed Mary (Omphalodes verna) is also delightful.

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  2. No wonder you were jumping up and down, dear Gail, it is a gorgeous wild flower. It is certainly worth the effort of searching for seedlings on hands and knees. I am so glad you found some!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  3. Hi Gail, I have invited Betty into the garden a couple of times but she refuses to stay. This makes me sad but after seeing those alluring blue eyes I will have to try to entice her again. Happy WW.

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    1. She's worth the effort, but hard to locate sometimes.

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  4. That is a sweet little flower! I like the plant, too. I thought the fourth photo was woodland phlox at first. It reminds me of that. I moved some of mine around, and the rabbits found them, so I put wire baskets that are for hanging plants over them. My yard is a bit cluttered right now, and not so natural looking. LOL

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  5. Since I garden for wildlife I'm going to use your meme as a monthly reminder to check what the sunbirds are using. Plant more ...

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  6. Gail, these are new to me and something I will have to look for in the woods and maybe even plant them in my tree areas (if I can find some seed)....they are gorgeous and so petite!

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  7. What a lovely little flower, and such a pretty name! I hope Blue-eyed Mary decides to take up residence at Clay and Limestone and return every year.

    Sorry I don't have time to participate in WW this month;I hope to spend some time today with my favorite "wildflower"--my "baby" turns 26 today!

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  8. Beautiful flowers!
    Thanks for hosting Wildflower Wednesday!
    I am glad that you could ID my wildflower. I have enjoyed them for years without knowing what they were. They have been growing around the edges of the woods, but this is first year I have noticed them close to the house.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  9. Such a pretty flower! I'm glad you have them again in your garden!

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  10. Hi Gail, while my post wasn't planned as a Wildflower Wednesday posting-- it worked out to be such!! I have learned a lot from your posts and Saturday had a wonderful nature hike to see some beauties, first hand.

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  11. You are probably responsible for more potential torture of unsuspecting plants because I saw them here and wanted them. What a lovely little blossom, I'm off to see my local wildflower lady has any seed. Barbarapc

    p.s. On one level I know all this warm weather is bad, but on the other hand, when has anyone on this side of Lake Ontario been able to play on Wildflower Wednesday in March.

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  12. What a beauty Gail! I wish you great luck with your Blue-eyed Mary! Your efforts and education of others may just help to save this lovely plant.

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  13. blue-eyed mary is beautiful. what a treat it would be to see that in the woods! for wildflower wednesday, i'm submitting my post about finding halberd-leaf violet and hepatica on a recent walk in the woods. thanks for hosting this meme; i always learn something! ~ daricia

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  14. Thank you so much for hosting Wildflower Wednesday. This is my second time to participate and I LOVE it! I believe in the importance of growing wildflowers. I love the flowers you showcased. JUST BEAUTIFUL! Every garden can benefit from more blue flowers! Thanks again!

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  15. So happy to find this linky! Thanks so much for hosting it. Love seeing all the beautiful wildflowers!

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  16. How big are the flowers on Blue-Eyed Mary? I have seen something similar with quite small flowers, scarcely showy enough to go to much trouble to grow.

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    1. Tiny little flowers Kathy under an inch that sit on spindly stems. But, they are beauties. gail

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  17. I'm wondering if the yellow plant in the Smith College lawn is some kind of wildflower. Can you help? Notice the foliage especially.

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    1. Pat, Where can I find the photo? gail

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  18. hello Gail, thanks for hosting this meme I love wildflowers, your Blue-eyed Mary is beautiful, you must have a good camera to take good photos of a small flower, I've often crawled around almost on my stomache looking at the exquisite tiny wildflowers loved by small creatures, Frances

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  19. Now that is absolutely perfect and of course I want some but am defeated by the twin facts of its not being native to Wales and needing moist woodland. Drat. Still very beautiful flower though.

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  20. What a beauty...I can see why you like them so much...definitely worth the search, I'd say!

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  21. Gail, I love the blue-eyed Mary and the story of finding it!

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  22. Glad to see these diminuitive little flowers featured on wildflower wednesday. Seeing them here reminded me of a small colony my mother used to have in her old garden. You don't see them very often and they are utterly charming.

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  23. Yes, that's a charming little wildflower. It's petals resemble lobelia, don't you think?

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  24. Very delicate. Nice post. Happy WFW! It's amazing whatgardeners will do to enjoy such a special plant.

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  25. Love this, Gail! So glad a friendly gardener/reader shared with you. I plan to post for WW but it probably will be late...during the weekend. Just wanted to let you know I love WW! There are so many WF's and natives popping up right now -- ones I've collected over the past few yrs of blogging and learning about them, much of it from WW.

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  26. Gail you are one lucky gardener to have this flower. We used to see oceans of it when we lived in western PA, at Enlow Fork Creek, along with Virginia Bluebells. What a magnificent sight that was.

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  27. I love tiny flowers. My camera comes right out every time tiny flowers show themselves.

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  28. What lovely flowers! I hope you will succeed in having them self-sow. Being in the PNW, it seems like so many wildflowers are only found in the eastern US. Sigh. I have photos of some plants native to the West. They are white. Nice, but the blue is so pretty.

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  29. Gail, I so enjoyed those post about your search for these lovely wildflowers. God is so good to us isn't he?~~Dee

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  30. They are sweet little charmers, and that shade of blue is just sublime!

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  31. Gorgeous! I'm so thankful to have found your blog. I've been searching for a native wildflower link up so that I could get to know other plants and other gardeners.

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  32. Wildflowers are lovely plants too! Some think of them as something to get rid of like ordinary weeds but their simple beauty is worth appreciating. Being in the lawn maintenance Phoenix line of work, any type of plant has a charm that is worth admiring, wild or not.

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  33. Hello Gail,
    Just to let you know - the red buckeye is blooming! That means the hummingbirds should be here today or tommorrow! It won't be long until they are up to your place!
    Have a great day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  34. Gail, this is my favourite kind of wilding: demure, shy and bloody-minded - always ready to show us THEY call the shots in the garden, and we will never tame them! ;)

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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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