Bowles Mauve wallflower.

Bowles Mauve wallflower.

Take a wallflower for a dance in your garden

  • Friday, February 28, 2020 1:30am
  • Business

By Steve Smith

When I think of the word “wallflower” or “shrinking violet” I conjure up an image of a timid plant. It prefers to grow in an obscure location where it will be barely noticed.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Popular in England, wallflowers have been planted for centuries where they are appreciated for their sweet fragrance, frost tolerance, bright and cheery yellow flowers, early spring blooming habit, and ease of cultivation. Because they are so easy to grow and have a tendency to reseed freely, you can find them sprouting up in cracks in pavement and in the crevices of walls – hence the name “wallflower”.

The standard wallflower is a biennial, which means it grows leaves the first season and in the second season it blooms, sets seeds and dies. In reality, most modern wallflowers are short-lived perennials that will bloom for a few years before they exhaust themselves and need to be replanted.

Of all the wallflowers on the market, my favorite is “Bowles Mauve”, which grows to 2 feet by 2 feet and is covered with mauve-colored flowers the entire summer, not just in early spring like the traditional varieties. What it lacks in the sweet fragrance of the straight species, it makes up for with its non-stop blooming.

About five years ago a breeder in Europe was able to cross “Bowles Mauve” with the traditional species and come up with a new series that is long blooming and has a wide color range. These are called Erysistible “Tricolor”, “Sunset”, and “Yellow”. The botanical genus for wallflower is Erysimum, which explains the clever marketing name of “Erysistible”.

There are other new hybrid wallflowers. “Winter Orchid” and “Winter Passion” have multi-colored flowers of red, purple and orchid all on the same plant, along with a lovely sweet fragrance. And “Super Bowl Mauve” claims to be even better than the original, blooming weeks sooner and sporting fragrance.

Wallflowers are easy to grow as long as you give them good drainage and a sunny location. They are the perfect plant for interjecting some early blooms into the garden and with the new hybrids, many will continue to bloom throughout the summer. A little trimming as the blooms fade will always help keep them vigorous and in constant color. Don’t be put off by their misleading name, they are garden standouts that are anything but shy and retiring. Give some a try this spring and find out for yourselves.

Steve Smith owns Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

P.S. – Sunnyside will be hosting two free classes, “Want an Emerald Green Lawn?”, March 7 at 10 a.m. March 8 at 11 a.m. For details go to

More in Business

Arlington Times Logo
Dozens of restaurants, bars try to stay afloat during ban by offering take-out in Arlington, Marysville

Editor’s note: As a public service, the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times… Continue reading

Bees on a delphium. (Courtesy Photos)
Bee all you can be to help these very important insects survive

By Steve Smith Unless you have been living under a rock, you… Continue reading

Arin Losier serves a beer at the new Woody’s bar in Marysville. (Steve Powell/Staff Photo)
Fanny’s opens bar in Marysville, but Woody’s already closes due to virus shutdown by Inslee

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – It might have been the shortest… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo                                Colorful carrots are fun to grow.
Veggies taste so much better when you grow your own

Last week I mentioned that it was time to plant your “cool… Continue reading

Food bank volunteers still can connect with customers. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville Food Bank more like a regular grocery store

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – In an effort to lessen the… Continue reading

Arlington Times Logo
Legislative briefly

Bill helps timber over carbon emissions

Find your safe place in your own garden
Find your safe place in your own garden

By Steve Smith Sometimes I feel like the world is spinning out… Continue reading

One of the buildings at the new Villas of Arlington. (Courtesy Photo)
New Arlington apartments offer sliding scale for affordability

SMOKEY POINT – The Villas at Arlington are opening. They offer 312… Continue reading

Winter Passion wallflower.
Take a wallflower for a dance in your garden

By Steve Smith When I think of the word “wallflower” or “shrinking… Continue reading

Life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane
Life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane

By Steve Smith There is no doubt that spring has sprung. This… Continue reading

Be sure to be kissed by a rose by growing them correctly
Be sure to be kissed by a rose by growing them correctly

By Steve Smith It’s that time of year when garden centers fill… Continue reading

Arlington Times Logo
Vote for your favorites in Marysville and Arlington

What are some of your favorite places in Marysville and Arlington? Through… Continue reading