A small improvement makes a big difference

This hardy, dual-purpose veronica makes a fine border perennial and a valuable cut flower

Veronica ‘Lavender Lightsaber’A number of new veronicas have arrived on the scene in recent years. Some are more dwarf, some are more self supporting and need less staking.

Some flower for longer and some flower more prolifically. The colour range now runs from deep blue and deep purple, thorough mauves and pinks and paler blues to white.

But, in aiming for these new features, the natural elegance of the plant has often been set aside.

Varieties have been selected that produce a cluster of shorter, secondary flower spikes at the base of the bold initial spike and while this extends the flowering season it can ruin the natural elegance of a simple slender stem.

‘Lavender Lightsaber’ is different. Each flower spike is about 40cm long, with about 350 flowers on the main stem. Side branches carry another 150 flowers.

But here’s the thing: on most varieties the secondary spikes develop right under the lowest flowers creating a messy look. On ‘Lavender Lightsaber’ the secondary flower spikes develop lower down so the main spike remains clean and uncluttered. In particular this allows long, slim stems to be cut without a cluster of small, stubby spikes around the base of each spike.

Flowering continues for about two months, with individual flowers remaining open for about six days. Cutting back after the final flowers fade will often prompt a smaller late summer flush of flowers if the plant doesn’t dry out.

Growth is neat, too. Taller than many varieties, the plant will reach 75cm (30in) in height but the crown of the plant stays tight and compact.

Veronica ‘Lavender Lightsaber’ was developed by the renowned hardy perennial breeder Hans Hansen of Walters Gardens in Michigan who, so far, has developed eleven new veronicas.

Veronica ‘Lavender Lightsaber’ is available from Dobies and from Suttons.

Image ©Walters Gardens, Inc
Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and do not constitute an official RHS endorsement.

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