Tradescantia ‘Little Doll’ (Andersoniana Group)
Nestling amongst mounds of short neat grassy foliage grow abundant sprays of three petalled pale blue flowers. Tradescantia ‘Little Doll’is a short and very dense variety which always looks neat. A cheerful addition to the front of the border. Best in full sun. 30cm
The garden Tradescantias are close relatives of the Wandering Jew houseplants that are so indestructible and ubiquitous. They derive from the American species, Tradescantia virginiana.
Tradescantia are easily pleased, making fuss free clumps for the front of the border. Each stem carries a long sequence of terminal blooms, each of which lasts just one day, with the calyx drooping down on an elongated stalk when it has finished. This is best seen in the variety ‘Red Grapes’. The stems are quite fleshy and mucilaginous.
Tradescantias were brought to England in 1629 and named in honour of JohnTradescant, gardener to King Charles I. Later on, in 1639, his son, also John Tradescant, visited Virginia where Tradescantias grow wild. He brought back many plants such as the Virginia Creeper, but also brought back many curios such as a pair of Phoenix tail feathers. He continued to amass these items, eventually housing them all under one roof in ‘Tradescant’s Ark’; the ‘Museum Tradescantium’. This attraction gave him an income when the King lost his head and later formed the basis of the Ashmolean Museum when it was bequeathed to his friend Thomas Ashmole.
Tradescantia – Moses in the Bulrushes, Devil in the Pulpit, Widow’s Tears
The name ‘Wandering Jew’ used for many of the Tradescantia is a reference to the plants ability to seed and spread and comes form the biblical myth of the wandering Jew condemned to wander for ever for taunting Christ on his way to his crucifixion. In some cultures it is “flor de Santa Lucía” or Flower of Saint Lucy, the patron saint of sight. Tradescantia has been used to clear congestion in the eyes.