Sunday, February 24, 2008
The first wildflowers to bloom in my garden in late winter are Desert Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia). They are one of the few brilliant blue flowers that perform well here. Too well, in fact. I have tens of thousands of tiny seedlings coming up, along with the more mature plants. Each time we get just a sprinkle of rain, another round comes up. All are self-seeded, and each year the number seems to triple. I should thin them out, but I’m too busy picking weeds to worry about the wildflower thinning right now!
Desert Bluebells attract butterflies and bees, which will arrive as more flowers arrive. When the plant is young, the heart-shaped leaves have a maroon hue, and as the get older, the leaves turn green and they are edged in red. This Southern California annual has very shallow roots, and it is easy to dispose of when the flowers are spent and the leaves begin to dry. The only problem is the plant is somewhat hairy and can be quite irritating to touch. I always wear gloves when dealing with Desert Bluebells, not only because of the “hairiness, but the stems and leaves easily stain hands and clothes.