Saturday, July 23, 2011

Always A Bridesmaid

Four of our eight children at the latest wedding.
One of the reasons for having bridesmaids in beautifully colored dresses is to make the bride stand out.  It's a frame of color which highlights the star of the wedding - the bride.

Gardens have bridesmaids, too.  One of my favorites is Speedwell "Veronica" from the figwort family.

Veronica has about 500 species - herbaceous annuals, perennials, shrubs and small trees.  Several are considered weeds and look similar to the dreaded Creeping Charlie.  The bridesmaid in my garden is a perennial, good to zone 4a.

Veronica tolerates average to dry soil and will do best with generous amounts of organic matter mixed in the soil.  Do not over water.  It prefers full sun although it is tolerant of mixed shade.  It's deer resistant.  It attracts butterflies, moths, bees, many other beneficial insects and birds.
Veronica longifolia, my favorite, has rigid tall spears with purple/blue tiny flowers that rise above the thin leaves.  Others may have white, blue or pink flowers.  Some are short (mat forming) and others are tall (2 ft) varieties.  They may be divided although many will self seed.

I recommend buying from a reputable nursery or take a division from an established bed where you can see how it behaves.  This way you will get the kind that fits your garden.

Tall spikes of purple/blue flowers form a perfect backdrop for tall bushes and climbing roses.  Shorter varieties look well tucked into daylily gardens and are perfect for rock gardens.

They bloom from June through September especially if they are deadheaded.  Veronica was born for cottage and casual gardens, but, can be used in mass for a formal bed.

Amazingly, purple flowers highlight almost every other color in a garden.  They let the other colors be the star.  The only exception would be to pair it with another deep purple/blue flower where they would both become one color instead of two distinct plants.

If they self seed into areas where you don't want them, simply hand pull in the spring.

The flower lore (as all flowers have) is when Christ was laboring beneath the heavy cross, He faltered.  A maiden, St. Veronica, rushed forward to wipe the perspiration from His brown.  The imprint of His face was found upon her cloth.  The facial marking is on some species of Veronica.

Veronica is a flower that highlights bouquets the same as in the garden.  It just might be the perfect flower to tuck into a bridesmaid's flowers. 

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