Mar 30th, 2016

Virginia Bluebells: Spring’s Gift

 Virginia bluebell. Mertensia virginica

The tiny fairy-bell like flowers of the Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica) in Flagler Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

virginia bluebells blooming in clumps

Virginia bluebells tend to grow in clusters.

If ever there was a plant with a fandom in Virginia, it would be the Virginia bluebell. Mertensia virginica makes fast friends with anyone new she meets. A native wildflower, you are just as likely to find her at Pony Pasture in the James River Park System as you are to find her here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  No matter where you meet her, she’s sure to make a big impression.

Here are the top 5 reasons I love Virginia bluebells.

  1. They seem to appear overnight. Two short weeks ago I went searching for these beauties. I knew just where they should be growing and I couldn’t find them. They were still underground with not even a trace of their green foliage showing. Now, they are a sea of green, pink and blue beckoning you to come see their graceful bell-shaped blooms dance in the breeze.
  2. Spring ephemerals are wonderful particularly because you know they will last only a short time Carpe diem.  Seize the day and come enjoy them now before they are gone! (Don’t worry, they’ll be back next year.)

    pink Virginia bluebells -- very unusual

    This Virginia bluebell plant (photographed at Pony Pasture) is particularly unusual because it was blooming in both pink and blue. Typically, the buds are pink and they turn to blue by the time they open.

  3. Virginia bluebells are blue. Botanically speaking, true blue is pretty unusual in a bloom — especially a wildflower. Even more unusual: a native plant that features both blue and pink blossoms.
  4. Virginia Bluebells are opportunists. They sprout out of the ground and soak up all the sun they can before the trees in the woodland surrounding them leaf out and block their sunshine.
  5. Immature Virginia Bluebells look like pink raisins. These fun little buds will make you look twice. Amazing that these tiny pink buds can grow into bluebells!
pink bluebells at the pink raisin-like stage.

Don’t the pink buds of Virginia bluebells look like little raisins?

So don’t wait, come see these beauties! They’ll only be here for a short while. You’ll find them in Flagler Garden, just across the West Island Garden walkway.

What are the reasons you love Virginia Bluebells? We’d love to hear, just leave a comment.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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