Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Virginia Bluebells or Mountain Cowslips

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

On April 16, 1766, in one of his earliest observations in his Garden Book, Thomas Jefferson noted, “the bluish colored, funnel-formed flower in the low grounds in bloom.” Also called Virginia or mountain cowslip and Roanoke bells in the 18th century, this is one of our most desirable native perennial flowers. It was introduced to Britain by 1700 and Williamsburg’s John Custis sent roots to his patron Peter Collinson in the 1730s. It is easy to grow in most shady gardens and the emerging tufts of blue-green foliage are a harbinger of spring. Do not allow dormant roots to dry out.

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