This week has seen extreme temperatures across the UK. Even in the searing heat, some plants attempt to give the impression of cool through their blue colouring.
This week I’m sharing some of my favourite plants in blues. Admittedly, you will see that some of these a verging on purple. True blues in the plant kingdom are in fact rare as there is no naturally occurring blue pigment. Plants with blue-ish hues have adapted forms of red pigments called anthocyanins. Still – some of my selection are definitely blue – from the intense royal blue of Delphinium ‘Chelsea Star’ to the Wedgewood blue of chicory growing in my meadow area.
What better way to show as a collection how beautiful a blue and purple colour scheme can be than this arrangement from last Saturday’s local flower show? This was a new category at the show – ‘A vase of blue and/or mauve flowers’. Everyone agrees that this new class proved to be a great one as it gave us all a chance to get out in our gardens and look at all the plants we have in this colour scheme.
Most of the perennial plants in this arrangement are featured in more detail below but additional interest was provided by a couple of second-flush wisteria boughs, and at the front Sweet Peas ‘Night Sky’ and ‘Ethel Grace’ which I featured in a previous post about sweet peas here.
My arrangement here came third, which was a great result but just putting it together was reward enough.
Like many garden “blues” this plant is veering more towards purple but what a vibrant colour it is. Such a strong splash in the border and with it comes a medium height plant, with interesting foliage construction and a propensity to remain upright rather than flop over. We all need plants like this.
Seen at the bottom left of this picture is a nepeta that I would highly recommend due to its reduced stature. Many nepetas are tall and floppity and benefit from a Chelsea Chop (an early cut back in May to reduce the height of the flowering stems). I spotted this at Chelsea Flower Show this year and knew immediately it would do perfectly for this newly planted border.
This is a tall plant, flowering at the same height as the Leucanthemum daisies around it. I bought three of these at the garden centre of Barnsdale Gardens when I visited last year and they will need to clump up a bit to have the impact they are capable of in this border. I did collect some seed from them last year but they didn’t germinate.
This summer I am picking and dead-heading these fairly regularly to promote flowering and get bushier plants. I’m not convinced about the Black Adder name as it suggested to me a darker flower but I have read around a bit on it and the centres of the flowers are said to darken as the season progresses, with the flower tips remaining lighter mauve. I’ll be interested to see if this is what happens.
Ignore the paler interloper in the centre of this picture – it’s a rogue. The main event here is the three darker spikes of Delphinium ‘Chelsea Star’. This is the third time I have featured this plant in a Six on Saturday diary post but it is well deserved. This is the second flush of flowering here and despite the keen heat of the last couple of weeks these plants are still tall, straight and remarkably fresh looking. Only one of these made it into my blue show vase as it was the only one open but a week on the whole border is punctuated with its graceful flowers.
This variety of delphinium is the one plant in my garden that looks closest to a true blue. Here’s a close up of the flower. It really does have the wow factor.
This was given to me in spring by a friend who was splitting her clumps and she warned me that they were unlikely to flower this year. But flower they have, two large spikes to one side of the pot. A lovely surprise. This is a big pot and hopefully next year there will be even more flowers to create a stunning patio feature.
Please accept my apologies for the lack of variety name here. My friend’s hand-written label calls these ‘Susie’s Giant’ but I can’t find a variety called this whilst searching online, although there is one called ‘Susan’. Giant it is though and I’m wondering if she was given some by a friend called Susie and the label reflects the source and description rather than a known variety. Intriguing – I must ask her.
This is a wildflower introduced into an un-mowed meadow area under my fruit trees. Little plug plants were put in early in the year and forgotten about, but now five or six 50cm high plants are dotting the sward with pure blue flowers.
It’s easy to describe the blue of this flower. My mum and dad used to have a little Wedgewood trinket box and the blue of that china was the blue of this chicory flower. In terms of the flower shape, I’m wondering if any readers here have ever used a ‘spork’ to eat take-away food? A spoon/fork hybrid, a spork has tiny tines at the end of a narrow spoon and it struck me this week that the petals of a chicory flower are essentially a series of overlapping blue sporks.
I’m hoping these plants will set seed and spread about in the meadow area, adding a touch of classy wedgewood blue in July for years to come.
This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday. For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.