By Suzanne Wodek
In its first year it produces semi-evergreen basal leaves, re-emerging the following spring as a one- to two-foot tall plant that blooms profusely. The lavender to deep purple flowers are one-half to one inch in diameter. The foliage has a fern-like appearance, thus the common name fernleaf Phacelia.
This Phacelia is easy to grow from seeds and prefers dappled sunlight to light shade provided by deciduous trees and shrubs. The soil should be moist and contain organic matter. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract, primarily, bees. Less common visitors include butterflies, skippers and wasps. I love entering the Botanical Gardens this time of year to the sea of flowers this plant provides.
The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and memberships are encouraged. Check AshevilleBotanicalGardens.org for a variety of education programs. The Visitor Center and Gift Shop is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 12–4 p.m. during non-pandemic times.