Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pretty pictures: Mertensia virginica

Is it really possible that I've never blogged about Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells) before? I just did a search of the blog for "mertensia" and only found one post where I'd mentioned them -- and I didn't even have a picture in that post because it was about tulips.

Which, okay, I realize that I'm only one person, and I can't actually blog about every species of plant I ever run into, but if I really didn't blog about M. virginica until today, I should be punished for it.


Maybe just spoken to very harshly. But there should be consequences. No plant this cool should have to wait three and a half years to be featured on a blog. The puzzling part is, I know I saw them last year: I have pictures of last year's saved on my computer. So what happened to those pictures? Why didn't I write up the posts?

Whatever. So here are some more pictures from this year:

All photos in this post are from the yard of our across-the-street neighbor, which is the largest grouping of Mertensia I've seen anywhere in town. I don't remember when the above photo was taken, but below is the same approximate area, yesterday morning:

Mertensia is also prone to produce the occasional off-color sport. I did a little googling about the plant, which gave me the impression that white is the most common color other than blue. The neighbor's yard does have a few white-blooming plants, but unfortunately they're all deep enough into the yard to make it difficult to get a picture from the alley, so I don't have photos of them. There are also a handful of pink flowers, which are easier to get to, and they're pretty cool also:

I really want some of these for our yard, but the husband and I have not yet been able to get a clear plan yet (among other things, there's an extremely heavy shed that needs to, somehow, move from one side of the yard to the other, which pretty much means nothing can be planted near the origin or destination), and I'm not sure but what the yard wouldn't be too sunny for Mertensia anyway. Still, though, I'm going to be watching to see if I can find seeds on the neighbors' plants anyway. The Wikipedia page for M. virginica has a photo of seeds, so I should be able to identify them, and maybe I'll get lucky.


CelticRose said...

Very pretty. :)

I believe this is the first time I've seen a bluebell. Having grown up in AZ I'm not familiar with a lot of plants that most people consider common.

Anonymous said...

Although my largest patch of Mertensia was under ancient sugar maples, they can manage with the shade of large shrubs or perennials - or even of that shed when you get it established. One of my all-time favorite plants; here we have a relative that grows on the beaches, not as flashy though.

Tom said...

I love this plant so it was painful last week when I had to pull some beautiful clumps of it out of one my clients' yard. For some reason she hates it! I wanted to leave a message on her door telling her she's completely insane.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

I couldn't believe it when I saw your post today was Mertensia (bluebells). This plant I always associate with my mother who loved it and grew lots of it when I was young in our big backyard in central NY. How perfect for me on Mother's Day. Thanks, Mr. S.!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite plants, too!

Buds are pink and usually open pink before changing to blue. I've seen occasional sports (and rarely a cultivar) that are all pink, but I've never seen a white one, that's really cool. Perhaps your neighbor would let you have a division---the woody roots divide easily, do it when they're entering dormancy.

They self-sow lightly where happy.

Tom, I trust you saved the roots for another client or for your own garden!


Ginny Burton said...

Have you introduced yourself to this neighbor? Explained that you are a plant fanatic and would like to photograph some of his/her plants for your blog? I'm pretty sure that anyone would be thrilled to have you take such an interest and would be delighted to share the bluebells -- and other plants that take your fancy -- with you.

hydrophyte said...

Bluebells are going all over town here in Madison right now. It seems like they are semi-naturlaized here.

What did you do to your neighbor that they won't let you into their yard?