Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Virginia Bluebells in the Woodland Garden

Deep in the woodland garden the Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are blooming. I look forward to these spring ephemerals that bring color to the carpet of leaf litter that blankets our woods.

©Southern Meadows

Two years ago, I planted a few of these and am looking forward to the time when we have large swaths of these beauties throughout our woods. They should thrive in the rich soil provided by decaying leaf matter and slightly moist conditions offered by the drainage of the terrain in this part of the woods. Growing here are groves of elderberry, devil's walking stick and spicebush that like similar conditions.

©Southern Meadows

©Southern Meadows

The nodding clusters begin pink and transition to their celebrated light blue blooms. My favorite is when the pink, purple and blue colors appear together in their various stages of transformation.

©Southern Meadows

©Southern Meadows

The flowers stick around through April, where they benefit from the spring sunshine before the large trees leaf out and provide shadier conditions. 

©Southern Meadows

Spring ephemerals have a short period of time to grow-flower-get pollinated-produce seeds before they disappear in the heat of the summer yet they are critical for early emerging pollinators. Female bumblebees are often found visiting the tubular blooms of Virginia bluebells but butterflies and moths are the key pollinators of these flowers. 

©Southern Meadows