PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Elegant Calico Flower (Dowingia elegans)

First, a pop quiz:

Q: What is a Vernal Pool?

A: It is an ecological feature where you’ll find many incredibly beautiful and sturdy plants like Elegant Calico Flower, Monkey Flower, Meadowfoam, Douglas Spiraea, and more.

It is an area of ground that tends to be very wet, including standing water, in the cooler months and then dries up completely in late spring and summer. This can include roadside ditches, depressions in meadows, or in an urban setting, a rain garden.

“Vernal’ refers to the spring season. It is when the ground is still moist and the plants wake up from their winter slumber and do a massive amount of growing and blooming before the hot, dry summer weather kicks in. The plants that groove on all this moisture have also adapted to putting up with a very dry few months of summer.

Dowingia grows into a clump or patch of fine, almost grass-like foliage 8”-12” tall and spends a lot of energy blooming profusely for a couple of months in late spring to mid summer-ish. It is closely related to Lobelia and the flowers resemble it. Elegant blue blooms with a three-lobed lower lip and two little blue ‘ears’ sticking out above. The center of the flower is a splash of pure white. It will self seed before disappearing in July. Next year the seedlings appear, ready to beautify the world.