Bluets and Star Grass

I have no problem finding space in my garden for a wildflower. Most of them bloom in early spring before the trees leaf out and searching for wildflowers in the chilly sunshine is a great reason to get outdoors. The native plants perform well with little maintenance although some need thinning from time to time. As I surveyed the gardens this spring I noted how many shades of blue are represented in our collection.

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Shawn caught this amazing shot of the phlox (Phlox stolonifera, not a native species) which is staking out its spot in one of our gardens. Many gardeners choose phlox for its showy spring display. That tall plant behind the quartz stone is native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), another prolific performer. Columbine spreads rapidly with hearty seed crops but the carrot-like tap roots are easily uprooted for thinning.

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We planted these violets (Viola odorata) in one section of our back garden, and in a few seasons violets would appear most anywhere, even in the cracks of the sidewalk. I attempted a futile eradication program then surrendered. We gather them now into a street-side garden where the blooms can be enjoyed by passersby. Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit and all their kin love to munch on the violets, and that is fine by me. We have enough to go around. Garden note: children love picking a bouquet of violets for Mom.

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Other native blues include bluets (Houstonia caerulea). This species captured my attention in childhood as they appeared in early spring along the roadsides and in sunny patches on hillsides in West Virginia. Bluets confirmed my deepest hope that spring would finally displace winter. Here in North Carolina I have been mesmerized by the prolific bluets (and fire-on-the-mountain, a crimson bloom) along the trails in the Eno River State Park. I thought our bluets in the garden at Paths of Hope had disappeared and was delighted to see their return this season.

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Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) grows in tight clusters with a display of tiny stars. The plant tops out about one foot tall and the color dazzles the eye of the beholder. According to North Carolina State University the plant belongs to the iris family. Our first exposure to this plant came on Sunday afternoon walks through the dirt roads of what is now a 1500 home neighborhood. Amanda, at age six, dug several clumps, loaded them into her red Radio Flyer wagon, and Daddy carted her and them home to plant in the wildflower garden. She’s planting gardens and making memories with her babies now.

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I would love to see images of your flowers. What’s in your garden or what have you seen on a recent nature walk?