September 12, 2022

A Little Blue Magic

grouping

There's something about the cornflower/periwinkle blue of Prairie Gentian (Gentiana puberulenta) that pleases my eye. It's particularly pleasant in late summer and early autumn when the natural landscape is more dominated by the deep yellows of the various goldenrods and sunflowers (which I also love). It provides a little complementary pop of color.

buds and blooms

Lately, when hiking at my favorite prairie areas, I've noticed quite a few clumps of this magical little plant. Whether budding or blooming, it adds a touch of surprise and grace to the understory of the tall grasses and prairie plants.

Another common name is Downy Gentian, which is an apt description of this gentle plant, too. It's native to most of northern and central U.S., and a rarer find in parts of the east and south. I'm so thankful it's common here this time of year, although it takes a bit of hunting sometimes to find and notice the foot-tall plant among the much taller prairie plants.

For those who want to add it to their gardens, it grows well in sun and part shade, which makes sense based on its native habitat. I haven't had success trying to start it from seed in my garden, but I think I have too much shade.

buds

In the budding stage, the flowers are so graceful and inviting. Curly and enveloping, they elicit the feeling of a light summer blanket.

pollinator

And when the buds open, the stripes inside the petals offer added vibrance. It's fun to find pollinators inside, as with this photo I captured a couple of years ago.

flower details

Such a beautiful flower, both inside and out, and I'm happy it blooms around here for a few weeks this time of year.

16 comments:

  1. Gorgeous. I would have to grow this in a pot!

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  2. That’s gorgeous. I tried a different Gentian with no luck. So thanks for the introduction.

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    1. You're welcome. I might try this one or a different species in a pot as Gail suggests. They are so beautiful, and nice to have bright blue things blooming this time of year.

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  3. Those flowers are fabulous, Beth! They look like magical blue tulips. I've never seen them before. I was mildly surprised just to see that the Gentiana genus is listed in my Sunset Western Garden Book but it's so far outside even my Sunset-defined zone, I guess I can only dream of it.

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    1. That's a great description, Kris. They're smaller than tulips, but a similar shape. I guess we both have pros and cons, and plants we wish we could grow in our locales. ;-)

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  4. Here too, blue flax makes a field of gold and orange daisies really sing out.

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    1. So true. Great color combinations. Nature's palette is beautiful. :)

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  5. I have not seen that Gentian on any of my hikes here, thought there is another Gentian that I have and have posted photos of that one sometime ago earlier this summer. I will have to look for this new one.

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    1. There are so many lovely species and cultivars. You might be just a bit north for this particular species, although I noticed from the range map that it's commonly found a couple of counties south of you.

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  6. Oh, that is a beauty! You are fortunate, indeed, to have this pretty around.

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    1. Yes, I'm definitely happy to see it this time of year and it's so pretty at the base of the prairie flowers.

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  7. I have found a Gentian blooming along one of our walking paths. I agree, so lovely and unique.

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    1. They take a little more observation than some other prairie plants, but lovely to discover them. :)

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  8. You are so lucky to have a late season gentian in your prairies!

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    1. Yes, very fortunate, Hollis. They are special little beauties, for sure!

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