Friday, December 11, 2009

Special Mears Garden post- - December 13, 2009- Bluebells

Here is a post all about Bluebells.
Please remember that if you click on a picture it should get big for you.

We have been in our house for I think 27 years. When we moved in there wasn’t much planted. In the backyard there were a few daffodils and the crabapple trees.
I do not remember where the bluebells came from. I do not remember planting them.
At some point they arrived and now have achieved critical mass. That is the point where they are spreading without any help at all.
I divide the garden into about 20 identifiable “gardens”. For example there is the “pink crabapple garden” which is the area, here is a surprise, under the pink crabapple trees. I would say that there are a lot of bluebells in about half of the “gardens”.

Facts about bluebells:
The official name for bluebells is Mertensia Virginica, or “Virginia Bluebells”.
Minimum google searches indicate the plant is native to this country.
They are listed as preferring shade, but that is not a particularly relevant term in April. (The leaves are not out yet.)
They grow from bulbs, that look a little like small carrots.
You can buy them from some bulb companies.
Bluebells come up in April, bloom for a month and then disappear.
We find them by streams in the mountains of Colorado. They are there in June.
I can pot them up in the spring. They will still look good in the pots, if I dig them up before they are more than 1-2 inches tall.
I could of course did up the bulbs any time. Finding them after they have disappeared of course is the tricky part.
They get to be about a foot tall.
They mostly start out pink, and change over to…blue. Some pulmonaria are like that.
We have a neighbor who has a small clump that blooms white. I see it year after year. I have never been able to find a white bluebell listed in any catalogue anywhere.
Spanish bluebells are something else. When I google “white bluebells” sometimes people refer to and get excited about white Spanish bluebells. I am reasonably certain that the ones that I have seen at this one house are the Virginia type. I will try for a picture this coming spring.

Bluebells are not for everywhere in the garden. They are bigger than many small plants. You would not want them in a bed of dwarf hosta for example. At the same time if some come up with the small hosta or in the middle of some epimedium, those would be the ones to pot up in the spring.

Being blue, they make wonderful backdrops for photographs. Bluebells and big hosta for example are a wonderful combination. The first picture of the hosta Sagae, with bluebells, is one of my 3-4 favorite pictures ever.

If you plant them with daffodils the daffodils may have to be big ones. This daffodil is Tahiti.

I have a plant sale in the springtime. The garden sometimes has to support itself. I should have 50-100 pots of bluebells. If you are interested in getting some, let me know and I will set some aside for you. (They usually sell for something like $3 a pot.)
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Pat O'Conner said...

Hi, Philip (and Julia!). I voted this week for the pink lady's slipper, and I must tell you that a few years ago I DID come across one in the woods (though not in Minnesota). It was growing at the foot of a huge hemlock on a riverbank here in NW Connecticut. A jaw-dropping experience, like getting an unexpected present. Thanks for the reminder! Stay warm. Pat

philip Mears said...

Pat- I have never seen the pink slipper in the wild. Then we do not go to Minnesota much. We did find a clump of the large yellow slippers in Backbone State Park in Iowa once. There were 4-5 of them and it was just off the path. I took a picture but it was on the old film camera. For that reason I have no idea where the negative can be found.