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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in hot pink flowers (1)


Oh, How I Love Veronica "First Love" !

Trade image. My camera isn't this good!

How pleasurable it is to look outdoors on an autumn day and notice a colorful perennial still in bloom, while the plant tag states clearly that it should be going dormant. I wonder what role nursery propagation plays in influencing the flowering longevity of a newly purchased perennial.

I ordered Veronica First Love from my supplier in order to see how it might perform. When it arrived in mid- May, it knocked my socks off. As it was being unloaded onto my front lawn, it was already in bloom with spikes densely covered in an intense neon shade of pink that remained consistent all season long. Whenever I would stroll into the garden to relax, my eyes would rivet onto this plant and remain there indefinetely. I now understand the meaning of tearing oneself away.

By the first week of October, First Love’s intense fluorescent pink spikes were still pumping out color, albeit, only at its upper extremities. However, October flowers on a perennial, known to bloom only until September, are simply remarkable. It’s one of the many surprises we gardeners enjoy as this plant is such a pleasure to behold.

An August portait of Veronica "First Love"Generally, one of the most frustrating aspects of the Veronica family of perennials is its slow-to-start personality. That makes it hard to sell at the nurseries, because the plant is still dormant in early spring when gardeners usually do most of their purchases.

Some establishments will force feed this perennial  to flower in early June, but that is no guarantee that it will stay in bloom after planting. Most new Veronica plants go into shock when I bring them home from the nursery and the flowers on the plant at that time just sit there with no further development, until the heat of summer sears their spikes. But that did not happen with this one that was sourced from a grower instead of a nursery.

Veronica "First Love" at the beginning of OctoberUsually, I must wait until a Veronica has gone through its seasonal cycle before I can fully enjoy it. That will occur by late summer of the following year. Because of this horticultural cat-and-mouse game, many of my friends are unaware of its existence and  rarely do I see it, or any of its varieties, in other people’s flowerbeds. In my neighborhood, by the time it does bloom, many gardeners are away on vacation or have lost interest in their flowerbeds altogether.

In any case, I enjoyed the late flush of color this new variety of Veronica has given me at summer’s end. I expect it will go dormant shortly and that it will be slow to awaken next spring. By next midsummer, I should know if it will bloom continuously and energetically as it did in its first season. Because I do not feed my plants with steroid-strength fertilizers, I have been disappointed in the past by Veronicas that have taken several summers to establish themselves; in my garden, they mature at their own, natural pace. Now the test of a seasoned gardener begins. It’s called patience.