Being a stone kinda guy, I spent a few happy hours the other day rescuing a rock garden just outside our shaded side door that had been buried in time, dirt, neglect and a crawly, yellow-green, ground cover that masquerades as useful. (Not a great photo of rocks here but the stones buddied up nicely and so grateful to be back above ground.)
So, the next day I am wandering a local Meijer’s garden section – hey it’s garden time and not all plant greatness comes by UPS from fashionable, high-priced East Coast nursery establishments – and sitting before me is a tray of stunning, electric- blue, take-me-home-now Lithodora.
The name is lure enough—Lithodora. I have vague memories of trying it before. Say it slowly, softly…lith…o..dora…and game over. The bright blue color seals the deal.
So, home it comes, and where to plant it? Lithodora is very needy. It requires rich, soft, slightly acid, well-drained soil in mostly shade to prosper. Humidity can be an issue. It’s one of those eye-candy, take-a-chance plants either prospering or dearly departed.
Happily, beyond coincidentally, those exact needy attributes came with that rock garden I had just resurrected outside our side door.
In went the Lithodora, carefully planted, anxious to see it prosper in that busy location.
Would its needy self-work there?
The answer soon arrived. Bright. Blue. Color. At least for now.
Only then did I look up the Lithodora name derivation. The “litho” comes from the Greek “lythos” for stone. The “dora” from the Greek word “dorea” for “gift.”
Had no idea.
And all of that partnered up a few thousand years later just outside our side door. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are in the building.
Bob, out here in the pacific Northwest Lithodora is a staple for a sunny low maintenance ground cover. Full sun is a must for us and we don’t have the humidity issue you Midwesterners have to deal with. But, we do suffer from excess moisture (translate that to soggy soils) and the occasional “arctic blast” that turns it black as the ace of spades. In my book it is not really a good candidate for ground cover status but rather a good low growing perennial that has a short shelf life of 2-3 years. The best patches that i have seen are usually in poor soil and neglected care. “Thrive on neglect” is perhaps a good strategy. But, in the end, who can resist those electric blue flowers. I flies off the benches in the spring.
Thank you. I also have my fears, being about 50 feet from Ohio River and Kentucky. But..electric blue sold me, too.
Beautiful. I’m a sucker for bright blue. Lithodora. It needs shade? Well, then, my chances of growing it are about as likely as growing a Himalayan Blue Poppy in Kansas (I’ve tried, you can’t…or at least I can’t).
In my garden at the central Oregon coast, lithodora grows quickly and easily everywhere a small piece gets covered by the sandy soil. Full sun in the cool summer weather and no extra water makes for very easy plant care.
Outside humid Washington DC, I have kept it alive for several years in a pot with half-day sun, where I can control the moisture and the exposure. But last year’s soggy weather did it in. You are so right – it is irresistible! This year I switched to the blue lobelia, which is almost as lovely, but because it’s an annual, you don’t get so attached:) .
I like the idea of rockery resurrection as a concept but here in N Wales the idea of it makes me blench. First you have to deal with the couch grass then the bloody 9′ fang rooted potentilla, then the delicate bronze oxalis. When a client suggests a rockery I gently try to steer them into less choppy waters. Nobody is prepared for the ground preparation and if the bed is adjacent to lawn it is a matter of time before the stealthy invasion begins. I would not go as far as saying that the only good rockery is a flattened one but as in all good partnerships you have to commit!