Friday, May 17, 2013

Pretty pictures: Mertensia virginica

Once again, the neighbor across the street from us has a large swath of yard covered in Mertensia virginica. The occupants have changed two or three times since we've lived here, and every time that's happened, I've been worried that the new people might decide to dig it all up. So every spring when the Mertensia blooms again, I feel relieved: they've gotten through another year. And so have I.

Most of the plants are in their heavily-shaded back yard and don't photograph particularly well,1 but there's another group on the corner under a walnut tree, of all places,2 that were willing to pose for me.

In previous years, there have been a couple plants that were blooming pink, and a few more that bloomed white; this year I didn't see any pink ones, but there are several white ones. One kind of prefers the blue anyway,3 but variety is nice.

Really what I should do, I know, is ask them for some of the plants. Or at least seeds. (They seem to be spreading: I assume that means that they're producing viable seeds.) Then I wouldn't have to live in fear that they'd all vanish some year. Though it's possible that the fear is part of why I enjoy them so much.


1 Or at least didn't this year; the set of photos I took in 2011 were from the heavy-shade area.
2 Walnuts are allelopathic: they produce chemicals (in the case of the black walnut, juglone) that repress the growth of other plants beneath them. Not all plants are affected by juglone, but enough of them are that it's a little surprising to see something as pleasant and ornamental as Mertensia shrugging it off.
3 (You know how one is.)

1 comment:

Liza said...

I love Virginia Bluebells! It's been years since I've seen them, so thanks for sharing the photos!