A new superstar arrives in Veronica-ville,
Meet drop-dead gorgeous blues artist, Spike.
Don’t you just love the blues? Not those pinky-purple blossoms that most claim to be ‘blue’. I’m talking blue delph kind of blue, which is almost non-existent in flowers, but a blue veronica, now we’re talking blue. Here we have a newcomer to the border scene, Veronica x ‘Spike’ PPAF, who is destined to give Royal Candles a hard run for the money. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Royal Candles Veronica. There are a couple huge specimens in my gardens, but this is a step up from our old favorite blue heartthrob.
Spike is about the same size growing 12-15″ high and wide, but brings you more perks. For one, the blooms are bigger than those on good old R.C. Fatter, fluffier, and judging by the old plants in my garden, this new Spike hybrid blooms are longer too. To my eye, they are also more graceful, being more gradually pointed on top, where more rounded. I’m not sure what varieties and cultivars Intrinsic used to come up with their hot new perennial, but it is definitely, as they say, an improvement on Royal Candles.
On my little starter plant, that came out of a greenhouse and is way ahead of the season here, I’ve been enjoying the blooms for a month already, while R.C. is just starting to come into color.It’s already clear though that Spike is bluer. See Mr. Spike nestled between the clematis tuteur and the dark heuchera in this image? (Pardon the blur, a breeze was blowing.) For color reference – that’s May Night Salvia way down on the end of the bed. As you can see, it’s like a lighter cobalt type blue with less purple to the hue than R.C. brings to the garden.
My young Spike’s first burst of glory is now losing all the petals, but there’s a bunch of new stems coming up around the perimeter with tiny buds on top. It’ won’t be long, and it will be in full color again.
Just to show you how much more wonderful this new Veronica is compared to our old, and beloved Royal Candles… check out how demure the flower spikes are on these 4 year old plants of mine in comparison in the photo on the left. Obviously, you get much larger flowers from Spike. Like 3 times taller, and twice as fluffy. What’s not to love about that? Now, scroll back to the top of this page and look at how big the blue blooms are on the improved blue veronica, Spike that Intrinsic has developed.
Yeah, it’s somewhat of a confusing name, being that it’s a spike-type Speedwell a.k.a. Veronica. But, he is pretty spikey, kinda like incredibly long hair with the right gel. So, I can see why Brent gave this new perennial it’s name. That and it’s really bold, a bit brash in it’s blue-tifulness, and has great stamina at flowering… way better than R.C., who just opened 4 days ago, and is already displaying browning petals two-thirds of the way up his stubby stems. Maybe it’s youthful exuberance, but Spike appears to be much longer blooming, because I’ve not deadheaded it once, and blurry or not – and, over a span of several weeks, maybe a month, it’s still plump with great color in the image above.
‘Spike’ Veronica will give you a reliable perennial far into the north, being hardy for zone 4-9. As is common with veronicas, you’ll get the best blooming in full sun, though it will bloom with as little as 6 hours a day.
You need soil with good drainage and also consistent moisture for veronicas to thrive in your yard. If your garden has really sandy soil, add some compost and plan on watering every day. For those with heavy clay, amend it well to five Spike some drainage, because root rot is common with this plant in poor drainage. Mix some sand and pea gravel in 8-12″ deep and 12-15″ wide to adjust those water-logged conditions for growing veronica in heavy clay.
So, where can you buy Veronica x ‘Spike’? There might be some available online come fall 2014, but it’s likely you won’t be able to get this gorgeous, blue bloomer to add to your garden until Spring 2015. If you and all your friends run up to the local perennial growing garden center/nursery before fall, and inquire about getting the plant, you might be able to find it real easy next season. If you don’t ask for it, they aren’t likely to have it for sale. It’s all about supplying demand… so how many gardeners do you know? Organize and act casual. Make sure everyone talks to the owner or manager. The trick is to sneak up on ’em, and be ridiculously repetitive 😉
Trademark & Nomenclature
Veronica x ‘Spike’ PPAF
Commercial inquiries, contact Intrinsic Perennial Gardens.