When are Virginia Bluebells NOT Virginia Bluebells?

When they are  Symphytum grandiflora ‘Hidcote Blue’, otherwise known as ornamental comfrey!

Thanks to Stacy over at the fantastic blog Microcosm, the plant I thought to be a variety of Mertensia, aka Virginia Bluebells, has been correctly identified!

This is not the first time I’ve purchased plants that were mislabeled.  I thought I was buying Viriginia Bluebells and had specifically wanted them for a couple of partial – shady spots in the yard.  The plants and flowers look very similar and it wasn’t until I was home in PA last week and visited my friend Bev’s garden that I noticed the leaves of her Mertensia looked very different from mine.

Fortunately, my ornamental comfrey (!) has performed fabulously in both shady locations.  The blue flowers are gorgeous, and the fuzzy dark foliage remained all winter (granted it was a mild one.)

Here is a comparison between my plant and photos of  Symphytum grandiflora ‘Hidcote Blue’ found online.  Thanks again, Stacy, for figuring it out!

my plant, about 24 - 28" tall.



Symphytum grandiflora 'Hidcote Blue', photo obviously swiped from http://www.highcountrygardens.com


close up of leaves and flowers of my plant

close up of Symphytum grandiflora 'Hidcote Blue' on http://www.plantdatabase.ie


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Another site indicated that ornamental comfrey can be invasive in some areas, but so far it has not shown signs of wanting to take over the yard.  It has grown in the past year, but I must say it’s been one of my favorite plants in the garden.  I’m hoping it will continue to be well behaved!


What’s Blooming in April

This is the longest, most drawn out Spring I can remember, and it’s wonderful!  The past few years Spring seems to have happened quickly, giving way to rain and then Summer in no time flat.

This year Spring seems to be enjoying itself and taking its sweet old time, which is fine by me.  Daffodils are done, magnolias dropped their flowers weeks ago, but I still have tulips in the yard and our glorious crab apple tree just finished blooming.  Here they are along with everything else that’s blooming (or about to) in our garden right now:

the tail end of our Crab Apple blooms

Bleeding Heart

Pulmonaria (Lungwort) - white foliage

I love the foliage on this Pulmonaria. The flowers start out blue then turn purple, then pink.

Spanish Bluebells. I have several patches...this one is among some purple sage (barely seen in this close shot) and they look great together!

I absolutely love my Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia). I have two patches and both are thriving. Both kept their beautiful foliage all year, even over winter (granted it was incredibly mild.) This is one plant and it has grown a lot in the past month.

Here is a close up of the flowers and the foliage. While recently in Pennsylvania for a visit home, I noticed my friend Bev's Virginia Bluebells had very different foliage from mine...hers was smoother and shinier, while mine is veined, thicker, and fuzzy - almost like Stachys leaves.

a beautiful Iris...I'm not sure of the variety. I am "babysitting" this plant and a few others for a friend who lost her garden space last year. It's a very, very welcome addition. I'm hoping my own irises will bloom as beautifully.

I can't help but love the violets that are popping up all over the yard.

the last of the in-ground tulips. My potted tulips haven't bloomed yet!

Spring Green tulip - I love the ruffled layers of this one.

Some critters in the petals of this tulip...friends or foes?

This allium is gearing up to bloom soon! I planted three alliums last fall and this one is the farthest along. I can't wait to see it open!