Deep Blue and Clear as a Crater Lake: Austrian Speedwell’s Late Spring Allure
Lapis lazuli blue; deep, bright, clear as a mountain lake. For many, the color blue evokes serenity… A feeling of quiet, calm contentment. From gems and pigments to leaves and flowers, true blue is a highly sought after hue. And yet, this primary color —irreplaceable in an artist’s palette— is fairly unusual in nature. Most blue wildflowers lean a bit toward purple; with tints ranging from pale lavender to deep violet. Perhaps this is why the horticultural world has become so obsessed with this ethereal hue.
Although the color varies a bit from plant to plant as the blossoms age, the flowers of Austrian Speedwell ‘Crater Lake Blue’ (Veronica austriacaÂ subsp.Â teucriumÂ ‘Crater Lake Blue’), are some of the bluest of the blue. Spectacular in combination with rose, pale yellow, maroon-tinted leaves and willowy-hued blades of grass, this ultramarine blue, perennial flower is one of my late spring favorites. It is, quite simply, gorgeous . . .
Members of the Speedwell clan (genusÂ Veronica), are among the hardest working, flowering plants in perennial borders. Attractive to pollinators of all kinds, Speedwell’s reliably long bloom-time and easy-care nature make this genus popular with gardeners as well. Species like Alpine Speedwell (V. alpina),Â Long-leaved Speedwell (V. longifolia),Â Spike Speedwell (V. spicata),Â and many others —with cultivars from white, pink, fuchsia and violet to blue— make fantastic additions to perennial gardens. But I must confess, it is the Austrian Speedwell, ‘Crater Lake Blue’ that has my heart.
With delicate spires of lapis lazuli-hued blossoms opening in late-spring,Â VeronicaÂ austriacaÂ subs.Â teucrium,Â is a garden designer’s dream.Â Commonly called Austrian and Hungarian Speedwell, or sometimesÂ Crater Lake Blue Speedwell,Â Veronica austriaca subs. teucriumÂ is aÂ compact, mound-forming perennial with vertical, spiked blossoms (12-18″ high and wide). Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, the abundant, ultramarine blue flowers may be sheared back after blooming to keep the plant looking tidy. Resistant to both deer and rabbit browse and tolerant of all but soggy, poorly-drained soil types, this low-maintenance beauty is perfect for edging perennial borders and accenting rock gardens.Â Like most Veronicas, this species performs best in full sun, but will tolerate light, mid-day or afternoon shade. Just imagine a sweep of clear blue at the the edge of a deep rose-colored peony border. Oh my . . .
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