The speedwells come in many different forms from ditch loving wild flowers to sub-shrubby candidates for the herbaceous border. Here’s the lot of them collected together for you to take your pick. I’ve tagged along the Veronicastrum and Parahebe as well as they seem to fit well. The list orders from short to tall
- Veronica austriaca subsp. teucrium ‘Crater Lake Blue’. Rooting creeping stems form a lush mat of evergreen foliage which produce spikes of the most vivid cobalt blue flowers in late Spring. A real show stopper for the front of a border. 45cm tall
- Veronica gentianoides has delicate spikes of pale china blue, prettily veined flowers, borne above clumps of glossy evergreen leaves that provide good ground cover. The flower spikes have a charming grace and are one of the earliest of the summer flowers. Early summer. 45cm. Any good soil
Veronica spicata ‘Glory’ (‘Royal Candles’, ‘Ulster Dwarf Blue’)
The flower spikes of Veronica longifolia ‘Marietta’ consist of uncountable tightly packed deep purple-blue flowers with exerted stamens, giving them a velvety plush quality. Absolute magnet for bees. Very long season June to November if deadheaded. 65cm
Veronica longifolia ‘Charlotte’ has purest white, densely packed spikes of flowers each with an exerted style and two yellow tipped anthers. Green in bud. The foliage is greyish green with good creamy yellow margins. All in all a rather elegant and classy plant. June to August. 65cm. Reblooms in Autumn if deadheaded.
Here’s a variety that really delivers on its promises. Veronica longifolia ‘Charming Pink’ is well named and well worth its place in the garden. Tall elegant candles of small sugary pink flowers, enhanced by the stamens which stick well out from the flowers. Absolutely loved by the bees as a nectar source. Veronica longifolia is a natural inhabitant of damp meadowlands and hence is best grown in a soil that doesn’t dry out in Summer.
Veronicas are the speedwell’s or Bird’s-Eyes. The name speedwell means ‘good-bye’ and refers to the speed with which the petals fall when you pick the flower.
On the whole Veronicas are native to moisture retentive sites, growing in wet ditches, and flood meadows through to light woodland. They tend to prefer cool summers.
The species usually encountered for the herbaceous border are of fairly easy cultivation provided that over dry conditions are avoided. The taller species produce long lasting pink, lavender or blue spikes for the border which are great for the eye and the insects, whilst species such a V. gentianoides make attractive leaf cover for the edge of a bed with a bonus of palest blue flower spikes in spring
Veronica is possibly named in honour of St Veronica, the woman of Jerusalem who wiped the face of Christ with a veil while he was on the way to Calvary. According to tradition, the cloth was imprinted with the image of Christ’s face. Feast day July 12th.
- Parahebe perfoliata – Digger’s Speedwell. (Veronica perfoliata) Attractive glaucous leaves are produced on trailing stems from a central mound. Evergreen and especially attractive in spring as the young stems are produced with a curve like a cobra. Spikes of blue flowers with dainty long stamens in spring and summer curved like the emergent foliage.
- Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’. Long, graceful spires of small white flowers are enhanced by the fluffy stamens which protrude from the flowers and are retained after the petals have fallen. The pure white over the bronzey stems and bronze tinted foliage creates a very elegant effect from June to September. 4 ft, 1.3m