Culver’s Root ‘Inspiration’
This is the third summer that Culver’s Root ‘Inspiration’ (Veronicastrum virginicum) is growing in the sunny driveway border. In my experience it is an excellent plant if you want something vertical with blue color in early to mid-summer. Even my son’s girlfriend, who fervently hopes that my garden obsession is not hereditary, is enthusiastic about this plant.
I first saw the blue spires of ‘Inspiration’ during a June walk at the Lurie Garden. I was surprised to learn from one of the volunteers that it was Culver’s Root. Culver’s Root is supposed to be white and bloom later in the summer. That Culver’s Root had cultivars was news to me.
Culver’s Root is native to a wide swath of eastern and central North America. Because ‘Inspiration’ is a cultivar, purists would not consider it a “true” native. In Bringing Nature Home, though, Douglas Talamy comes down in favor of planting cultivars of native plants. For him, the key is that they still have the leaf chemistry to which native insects are adapted.
In any case, I have seen myself that ‘Inspiration’ is very popular with pollinators.
Culver’s Root is an easy care plant, not susceptible to bugs or diseases. It wants full sun and moist, moderately fertile soil.
In my garden it has not required supplemental watering once established – except for during extreme drought. The blue spires have been wavy rather than straight, perhaps because the soil is more fertile than is ideal for this plant.
This plant adds a definite vertical element, growing to 5′ or more. I like the whorled leaves very much, and not just because I like the word “whorled”.
According to Alan Armitage, this plant was used as an emetic by Native Americans, so keep that in mind if you feel like chewing on it.
Do you grow ‘Inspiration’ or some other form of Culver’s Root in your garden?