Went to the river yesterday to see what was what. It was like mid-March more than mid-April, especially when it came to mertensia, Virginia Bluebells. The picture of the leaves was taken yesterday and shows how early in the blooming process they are.
The other pic was taken last year, on April 14 — only two days from now — and shows how fully in bloom they were. So it’s definitely a delayed spring this year.
Next, going to Frances Slocum today to check the shadbush which were beginning to come into bloom this day last year. Have a feeling I won’t be seeing a thing this year.
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, rich soils.
Mertensia virginica, commonly called Virginia bluebells, is a native Missouri wildflower that occurs statewide in moist, rich woods and river floodplains. An erect, clump-forming perennial which grows 1-2′ tall and features loose, terminal clusters of pendulous, trumpet-shaped, blue flowers (to 1″ long) which bloom in early spring. Flower buds are pink and flowers emerge with a pinkish cast before turning blue. Smooth, oval, bluish green leaves (to 4″ long). Foliage dies to the ground by mid-summer as the plant goes dormant.
Genus name honors Franz Carl Mertens (1764-1831), professor of botany at Bremen.
Specific epithet means of Virginia.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Best massed and left undisturbed in moist, shady woodland, wildflower or native plant gardens. Clumps may be sprinkled in borders or rock gardens, but, since plants go dormant in summer, they must be overplanted with annuals or used in conjunction with perennials (as ferns or hostas) which will expand as the growing season progresses.