The name of this genus honors St. Veronica, who was said to have witnessed Christ's journey to Calvary and wiped tears from his face. One variety V. officinalis
, was used to concoct tea in Europe until the nineteenth century. Now encompassing about 250 species throughout the North Temperate Zone, V. longifolia, V. spicata,
and V. prostrata
have been in cultivation the longest and have yielded most of the hybrids enjoyed today.
Most garden Veronicas are derived from inhabitants of fertile meadows and open woodlands, in areas typically supplied with ample nutrients and water. Therefore, they perform best in a rich, moist soil. Blue is the dominant floral color--often a remarkable, intense blue. However, lovely shades of white, pink, and red are also encountered. They are grown for their delightful, long-lasting spikes of flowers and easy care and make an excellent addition to a mixed border.
Veronicas (Speedwells) are clump forming perennials for the sunny border. Most are relatively compact and have upright well-branched flower spikes. Speedwells provide a lively contrast with other flower shapes. They vary in height, habit, and bloom time, but all prefer full sun and well-drained soil.