Three blues and a yellow

Another breakfast picnic at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto on Tuesday (the 11th), followed by garden touring into parts of it that we hadn’t been through intensively before.

From the shade garden, Omphalodes verna (blue-eyed Mary); from its edges, Pratia pedunculata (blue star creeper); from out in the main garden, Convolvulus sabatia (blue rock bindweed); and from the desert garden, Chrysophalum apiculatum (common everlasting, golden buttons).

Meanwhile, a team of volunteers were working in the vegetable garden, harvesting piles of tomatoes of many different varieties.

Omphalodes verna (blue-eyed Mary, creeping navelwort, creeping forget-me-not). Fascinating name, with the Greek ‘navel’ root in the genus name and Latin ‘spring’ root in the species name. So it was no surprise that there were no flowers in August. We found the name blue-eyed Mary intriguing — and the flowers are certainly blue:


From Wikipedia:

Omphalodes verna (common names creeping navelwort or blue-eyed-Mary) is an herbaceous perennial rhizomatous plant of the genus Omphalodes belonging to the family Boraginaceae.

The genus name Omphalodes derives from the Greek word omphalòs, meaning navel, referring to the shape of the small fruits, while the name verna of the species, deriving from the Latin vernus, refers to the early blooming flowers.

Omphalodes verna can reach 20–30 centimetres (7.9–11.8 in) in height. The plant has a stem that snakes across the ground (hence the alternative name of creeping forget-me-not).

This species typically grows in the shade of trees, in fresh mountain forests (especially beech), wastelands and scrublands. The plant prefers sandy or clay loam and moist soils in shady places

Pratia pedunculata, with many synonyms, including Lobelia pedunculata, Laurentia fluviatilis, Isotoma fluviatilis (blue star creeper, matted pratia, creeping pratia). That’s blue + star creeper. In bloom:


On Tuesday there were only a few of these stars (originally from Australia) in evidence. From a garden enthusiast’s blog in 2013, with a Groundcover Warning:

Profusion of charming light blue flowers in spring for several weeks. Bloomed starting mid-May this year [in Tennessee] and was still covered in flowers in early June. In cool summer climates, Blue Star Creeper might bloom all summer. I say that because our temperatures have been cooler than average most of this summer (highs in the mid-80s or lower many days) and Blue Star Creeper started reblooming in late July. The flowers do seem to attract some small bees, wasps and/or hoverflie

… Blue Star Creeper spreads on below-ground rhizomes [and makes a thick underground mat of roots]. And it tends to travel a little…unpredictably, not necessarily advancing in a straight line, but suddenly popping up several feet away.

Convolvulus sabatia (blue rock bindweed). Again, blue + rock bindweed. A stunning plant, in profuse bloom on Tuesday:


From Wikipedia:

Convolvulus sabatius, or blue rock bindweed, is a species of flowering plant in the family Convolvulaceae, native to Italy and North Africa, and often seen in cultivation.

It is a woody-stemmed trailing [rather than vining] perennial plant, growing to 20 cm (8 in) in height. It has slightly hairy leaves and light blue to violet flowers, often with a lighter centre, which are 2.5–5 cm (1–2 in) in diameter.

Among the genera in this family, there are two with a great many species in them: Convolvulus (the bindweeds) and Ipomoea (morning glories and much else). Coming across bindweeds brought Flanders & Swann to mind: “Misalliance” from At the Drop of a Hat, which begins:

The fragrant Honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun
And many other creepers do the same.
But some climb anti-clockwise; the Bindweed does, for one,
Or Convolvulus, to give her proper name.

Rooted on either side a door one of each species grew
And raced towards the window-ledge above;
Each corkscrewed to the lintel in the only way it knew,
Where they stopped, touched tendrils, smiled, and fell in love.

Said the right-handed Honeysuckle
To the left-handed Bindweed:
‘Oh, let us get married
If our parents don’t mind; we’d
Be loving and inseparable,
Inextricably entwined;
we’d Live happily ever after,’
Said the Honeysuckle to the Bindweed.

Of course it ends tragically.

From what I could find on handedness, or chirality, in twining plants, it looks like most of them are right-danded.

Chrysophalum apiculatum ‘Silver sunburst’ (common everlasting, golden buttons). Here in a photo that looks just like what we saw on Tuesday at GG:


From Wikipedia:

Chyrsocephalum apiculatum, known by the common names common everlasting and yellow buttons, is a perennial herb native to southern Australia. It is a member of the Asteraceae, the daisy family. It grows in sunny locations on light, well-drained soil in grassy areas. It is an important food plant for the Australian painted lady (Vanessa kershawi), a butterfly.

The name “everlasting” was inspired by its use as a long-lasting cut flower. It is increasing in popularity in Australia as a cottage garden plant, but is still not well known.

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