I debated whether to include wildflowers in my last post for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, and decided against. Around Tangled Branches South the wildflowers do just fine without the aid of a gardener and that may be why I sometimes like them even more than the cultivated flowers. But with one thing and another, I didn’t get around to posting any of the wildflower photos I took 10 days ago. Now, Clay and Limestone Gail and Fairegarden Frances are celebrating wildflowers all this week on their blogs and inviting others to do the same. What an opportunity!
One of my favorite wildflowers is the earliest “real” wildflower at Tangled Branches South. I call them Bluets, but some folks call them Quaker Ladies or Blue-eyed Babies, and some folks call them something else (five or six common names are mentioned in one of my wildflower books). A botanist will tell you they’re called Houstonia caerulea. I wondered where the genus name Houstonia came from, but found out it’s nothing to do with Texas. It’s named for William Housto(u)n, who lived from 1695 to 1733 and collected plants in Central American and the West Indies.
The first thing I like about this plant is that it begins flowering at that time of early spring when everything is still cold and gray and you’re trudging along with eyes on the ground and something different catches your eye. The first bluet!. This year it was March 15, with just a few flowers open. They just keep increasing in number until ???? I don’t know when they stop blooming, I only know when they start.
They seem to prefer the woodland edges, but aren’t opposed to growing in the lawn. The clump pictured above is between the driveway and the woods – a sort of semi-cultivated area (we mow it sometimes). The flowers are tiny, but worth looking at closely. They have those sparkly petals that I just love, and a yellow patterned throat – like a flower in a flower. Click the photo below to better see the sparkle.
If you’d like to know more about Houstonia caerulea, these are some interesting sites:
- Sierra Club, Potomac Region, Hiker’s Notebook
- Illinois Wildflowers
- Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (via the University of Iowa)
I have plenty of wildflowers to show you this week. Tomorrow, native azaleas.