29 November 2007
Rhapsody en bleu....
I promised a few posts back that we'd get to the blue flowers in a little while, and here are a few of my favourite blues. (To cleanse your palate after putting up with magenta, neon-coloured ice plants, and then the great Orange Festival). We grow several different types of sea holly here, with the most reliable and prolific being flat seaholly, Erygium planum. It's much beloved by the bees too, who spend a lot of time bobbing from flower to flower during the weeks the plant is in bloom.
This little annual is Nemophila, or Baby Blueeyes, which grows easily from seed, but which also seems to get chewed up by slugs every year. Nevertheless, I'm partial to its soft blue, very similar to forget-me-nots, so I always have some in spring.
Virginia bluebells naturalize for many gardeners, but I haven't had success in getting them to spread yet. I'm hopeful that they're finally going to take off next year, because they're one of my favourites of the spring. Their salt-loving relative, Mertensia maritima, grows along beaches but apparently will grow in well drained soil above the shoreline too, so I'm going to try moving some of it to the alpine bed next year.
Do you know Starry Eyes? Omphalodes cappadocica is also known as Navelwort, and while this cultivar is probably 'Cherry Ingram', some gardeners refer to all forms as Starry eyes. This is a great shade garden plant, flowering about the same time as forget-me-nots.
One of the easiest of the gentians to grow is Willow Gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea, which also will take some shade. Some forms of this are bluer than others; one in our garden tends more toward purple than blue, but this one is definitely gentian-blue.
Oh, I guess everyone knows what this is! Just remember, I can't grow hollyhocks!
In the spring, much of our property is awash in Myosotis, or forget-me-nots in several different species. While we have some pink and white flowers, it's the china-blue flowers I love the best. I grow them for my Dad and for his sister, and for others stricken with Alzheimers Disease. We will forget-you-not....
Whether you call this by its botanical name (Nigella) or love in a bush, devil in a bush, love in a puff WITH the devil...it's a wonderful hardy annual, selfseeding nicely. It comes in rose and white as well as yellow (in another species, called the Transformer Nigella) but I love the blue most of all.
I raved on about Salvia 'Black and Blue' quite a bit this year, but I've really become a fan of most every salvia, hardy or annual, except maybe the overused red one found in gas station bedding schemes. But this is definitely a star; it doesn't like cold in the spring and it will pout, but once the warmer weather comes, stand back and let it do its thing. It finally succumbed to the chilling cold we've had intermittently over the past couple of weeks.
I know Kate shares a love of pincushion flower, or scabiosa, with me, (and with other gardeners too). Isn't it obvious why? It's a graceful, gentle flower, much loved by butterflies too, and if you deadhead it it keeps on flowering until just a couple of weeks ago.
As much as I love blue, I don't care as much for the mophead hydrangeas as I do for the lacecaps, which I also find to be hardier and more prone to flower properly. I think this is 'Blue Billows' but it might be 'Blue Bird'. I get them mixed up regularly!
Other gardeners have lamented about not being able to grow delphinium. Despite the wind here, they do well for me with a little creative staking, because it's not overwhelmingly hot here. I divide them regularly and so far none of them have dwindled away on me. A favourite is the Chinese Delphinium, which is shorter in stature but covers itself with remarkable, cobalt blue flowers.
I even use a lot of blue planters, and of course you've seen the blue chair, arbour, and other accents around the yard. For those wooden things we use periwinkle-blue paint, because there's not a lot comes in that colour in garden flowers,
...with the exception of chicory, and a few others. Even in the drab fall and winter, the arbour and short fences with their bright blue colour really show up and chase away the dreariness of a cloudy day.
I've left out some other obvious choices; borage, anchusa, pulmonaria, lobelia, false blue indigo, lupins, and probably many others. Do you enjoy a little rhapsody in blue in your garden too?