Veronica, also known as Speedwell, is a group of mostly hardy herbaceous and somewhat sub shrubby plants. It belongs to the fig wort family, scrophulariaceae, and is widely distributed over the temperate and frigid regions of the globe. The name Veronica is of doubtful origin, but is possibly in honor of St. Veronica.
The Veronica's are nearly all easy to grow. As a group they are sun lovers, and they prosper in almost any reasonably good garden soil. They are easily propagated by seeds and by division of the roots in spring or early fall and by cuttings in spring.
Selected varieties of the natural species (kinds as they exist in their native habitats) must be increased either by division or cuttings, because they usually do not reproduce themselves true to type from seeds.
Among the Veronica's there are both low-growing kinds and others of taller habit. The former are extremely useful for planting in rock gardens and the latter are good flower border plants. Some of the taller kinds, such as V. Maritima, and its variety subsessilis, as well as such named varieties as Royal Blue, Blue Spires and Blue Peter, provide useful cut flowers.
There is, of course, no sharp line of division between the kinds suitable for rock gardens and those adaptable for planting in borders. Many of the ones listed here as suitable for the former purpose are also suitable for setting at the fronts of flower borders, and some of them can also be used in rock gardens as well. The choice is a matter of selecting the kinds whose heights are appropriate to the particular locations in which they are to be planted.
Veronicas for Rock Gardens
This is a list of some of the varieties of Veronica (speedwell) that grow well in rock gardens, and a brief description of them.
V. Armena grows as a rather tufted plant and has a somewhat woody rootstock. Its stems are prostrate and are furnished with pinnate divided leaves. The flowers, which are lavender-blue or blue, are produce in such profusion in May that the foliage is practically hidden. This plant has a tendency to die out unless it is propagated every year.
V. Bonarota is a vaery pretty plant found in the eastern Alps of Europe, where it grows in crevices of limestone cliffs. It is best grown in limestone scree or a crevice in a rock garden. It has stems of 4 to 5 inches and has dark green, glossy leaves.
V. Caespitosa comes from the mountains of the Levant and from Lebanon. It is a densely tufted dwarf plant, with silvery-white, woolly haired leaves and rather and rather larger pink flowers. There is a variety of this named leiophylla, which is without the white, woolly hairs except on the inflorescence. Both of them require light, well-drained soil in a sheltered location in a rock garden.
V. Canescens, from New Zealand is perhaps the smallest of all flowering garden plants. It creeps over the ground with the finest threadlike stems, and has a pinhead-sized leaves of brownish-green, clothed with fine hairs. It is hard to see this small plant until it blooms in July and is covered with a multitude of pale blue flowers.
V. Cinera, is a native plant of Greece and is a mat-forming plant with silvery white leaves and spikes of rose-pink flowers, 3-4 “ high. It thrives in any open sunny place in the rock garden, or in the front of a flower border.
V. Filifolia, is from the Caucasus and is a very pretty plant that forms a clump of erect wiry stems clothed with leaves which are divided into threadlike segments, and has large flowers that are white with blue veins. It grows 6 to 12 in. High, and is easily increased by division in spring.
V. Filiformis is a perennial or sometimes an annual kind which is so very amenable to cultivation that it sometimes becomes a weed in lawns. If it is to be set in rock gardens, its tendency to prosper and take over and grow into neighboring places should be taken into consideration when planting.
V. Fruticans (saxatilis) is an extremely pretty dwarf alpine, found all over teh European Alps and occasionally in Scotland and other parts of northern Europe.
It is semi-prostrate with sub-shrubby stems, 3-4 in. Tall. It has small, dark green leaves, and bears spikes of vivid blue flowers, each with a central ring of red.
V. Incana is a great low growing plant. It has silvery-white leaves and spikes of violet-purple flowers, 6-8 in. High. It is a native of Siberiaa and the Caucasus. There is a rare form with clear rose-pink flowers which is named variety rosea.
V. Latiflia ( V. Teucrium) is a variety distributed in Europe and Asia Minor, and giving us several varieties of rock-garden and flower-border plants of first class importance.
Other varieties include: V. Pectinata, V. pedumcularis, V. prostrata, V. repens, V. rupesris, V. saturjoides, V. spicata, and V. Telphifolia.
Veronica for Flower Borders
Your flower borders will bound with color and will attract insects as well. Here are some varieties that are suitable for planting along side other border plants. This will give you an overview of where they originated from.
V. Austriac is a native SE Europe native plant. It grows to a height of 2 ft. In June it beats large blue flowers and has deeply lobed leaves.
V. Chamaedrys, the Germander Speedwell, is a native of Europe and Asia that is naturalized in North America. It grows to a height of 12-18 in. And bears bright blue flowers in May and June.
V. Euxina, from Bulgaria, grows 12-18 in.tall, and has long spikes of fine violet-blue flowers. It is an attractive plant in the flower border.
V. Gentianoides is a fine border plant that forms clumps of glossy-green, oblong-lanceolate leaves, and has 12-18in. High spikes of large pale blue flowers.
V. Maritima (longifolia) grows some 18-24 in. High and bears spikes of lilac-purple flowers in summer. There are also white, pink, and violet flowered varieties. It is also naturalized in North America.
Whichever variety of Veronica you choose, you will surely enjoy its beauty, whether it is planted in a rock garden or in a flower border. Your yard or garden will also attract many butterflies and pollen collecting insects.