Virginia bluebells

Mertensia virginica, commonly known as Virgnia bluebells, is a native woodland perennial found in most Illinois counties, including Cook County, and is featured in the Botanic Gardens Native Plant Garden. It pops up through the silla in mid-spring, and forms spreading bouquet-like plants of up to 2-1/2' tall with delicate lavender-blue flowers that bloom for up to a month.

Once it gets hotter and drier, they wilt and can be tied or cut back once they've dropped their seeds. Virginia bluebells tolerate light shade to partial sun as well as moisture, tend to colonize, and so make a good choice for difficult shady, wet areas, especially along pathways.