Thursday, May 5, 2011

Color Essay Number 12: Singing the Blues

A shop in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia painted a warm shade of blue 
and yes, it was in the middle of nowhere.

You may not favor blue, but is there anyone out there who actually dislikes the color blue? If anything, I think most gardeners wish there were more blue flower options. 

This is a good time of year to be talking about the color blue, because in my spring garden, blue makes its strongest statement. 

Without further delay, here are some of great blues, both in my garden, and elsewhere as noted.

Robin's eggs in a nest

Lungwort, Pulmonaria is amongst the first blue flowers to bloom in my garden. After the flowers are finished, the plant has great spotted leaves.

Speedwell, Veronica filformis is an excellent ground cover that doesn't mind the part shade of my back garden. The plant has a tight, low mass of bright green leaves and blue flowers in May and June.

Bugleweed, Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow' at Lost Horizons Nursery, Acton Ontario

 A close-up of the flower: Bugleweed, Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'. There are lots of varieties of bugleweed (Chocolate Chip is a favourite). The plant can get a bit invasive, so choose its location carefully (preferably a spot where it can only go so far).

Another ground cover that I noticed recently at Humber Nursery is Veronica whitleyi. It has grey green foliage and baby-blue flowers in May and June.

A close-up of one of my bearded irises.

If you want more blue in your garden, definitely consider irises!

A favorite bearded iris that straddles the dividing line between blue and purple.

I now have a few varieties of Siberian Iris. The variety shown above was here on the property when we moved in. I find the flowers a bit small to be honest. I actually prefer some of the newer varieties that I have recently added.

Fireworks onion, 'Allium pulchellum' at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Garden, Norval, Ontario

Before we go to much further into the summer season, lets pause to consider some blue-colored annuals.

Though common, I think Salvia, 'Victoria Blue' (Salvia farinacea) deserves a quick mention
 in this blue post. Massed, it made a nice, late-season statement in this public park in Brampton, ON.

'Summer Skies' a pretty blue variety of 'Pacific Giant' delphinium.

Russian Sage, Perovskia, 'P. Atriplicifoia' is a plant that I have been struggling with. It likes a hot, dry, sunny spot- which I don't have, and hates good garden soil and lots of water--which I do have. Unless you provide it with good drainage, it will disappear over winter. I am not willing to give up just yet, because the plant is a beauty in the mid-summer garden. Larger varieties are huge at 24-36" tall, but there is also a more compact variety as well. This is the Garnet Garden in Oakville, Ontario. They have a spectacular view of the lake.

Sea Holly, Eryngium like lots of sun and light, sandy loam. They tolerate drought and hate to be moved      (case in point- I lost mine and now have to shop for a new plant). The one pictured here is from the Garnet garden in Oakville, Ontario.

Just a quick reminder that not everything blue in a garden is always floral.

A blue Rose of Sharon in the late summer. Private garden, Georgetown, Ontario.

I couldn't leave out Asters. 

I apologize- I am not sure of the name of this shrub--I believe it is called Caryopteris of Bluebeard or Blue Spirea. Here in Ontario it is only winter hardy with lots of protection. I only have managed to keep them for a few years and then they perish in a harsh winter. They are pretty little shrubs though and bring blue into the garden late in the summer. This one was shot at Edwards Garden in Toronto.

Here it is in a flower border at Edwards Gardens, Toronto.

Juniper berries carry the color blue into the winter season.

I think many gardeners wish there were more types of blue flowers. Nurseries sometimes answer this demand by dying white flowers blue. Here is a blue poinsettia, by way of example. What do you think? Is this poinsettia carrying our love of the color blue a bit too far?

Here's hoping for a few days of warm spring weather, so we can all get out there and garden. Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Wonderful collection of the Virginia Bluebells.

  2. No one can be blue with all that blue. Beautiful selection and the first image is gorgeous. Love the character and color of that store. My blues are coming and I can not wait. Your photos are really good BTW.

  3. Blue flowers are my favourite in the garden! I have loved this post, but then I always love your posts! I'm not at all impressed by dyed flowers and a blue poinsettia just looks wrong. I wonder why though, because if they occurred naturally, I'd love them ;)

  4. Great shots - so many blues, and each one lovely. I have a lot of blues in my garden, too, and am always on the lookout for more. Although, I haven't seen a blue poinsettia yet. I may have to pass on that one.

  5. Love blue in a garden and this selection of blooms were fantastic and a reminder of blue through the season and what we can look forward our own gardens or others.

    But....your first photo made we smile with delight...Myles from Nowhere...a dear man, who has supplied us with a few folk art sculptures over the years, a Caper like myself. Hope he's still in business! You've captured the shop in it's blue'min glory!

  6. That shop looks as if the sign could tell a story - about Myles, and his life, where he came from, why NOWHERE? Did you meet him, or just the photo in passing?

  7. Oh, my favorite color! That Veronica whitleyi is such a pretty flower.And that Morning Glory is a show stopper. Gorgeous!

  8. I am not crazy about blue inside my house, although it appears in subtle ways. But, in the garden it is a must, peeking out, in front of, in back of all the plants in the border.


  9. I LOVE blue flowers; they connect the earth to the sky. They are refreshing. They make me smile. But of all your blues, the one I love the most is the shot of the robin eggs!

  10. Blue is one of my favorite colors too, and you named quite a few that I have in my own garden. Another honorable mention for me would have to be Balloon Flowers. :)

  11. To me all blue flowers look purple! True blue is a rarity in nature (except those juniper berries, I love that shot).

    The caryopteris (bluebeard or blue mist shrub) that you keep losing is actually a very short lived plant. They just don't carry on for many years. But they are so easy to propagate... just stick a cutting in the ground before the original plant up and dies, and you have a new plant. It's one of my favorite shrubs here.

  12. Hey thanks for stopping by my blog. Will Rogers was one of the greats! I love your pictures. I wish I could grow some of these plants. My soil needs treatment before I can attempt to grow anything.

  13. A wonderful post, I really enjoyed this - I love blue - its my favourite colour. Your Siberian Irises are gorgeous and that heavenly blue morning glory is stunning!

  14. Beautiful photos!! Love the robin's eggs. The blue poinsettia- unique. Too far? nah. It would be a hit here in Austin with one of the themes that runs about the city of "Keep Austin Weird" haha though I don't think they are weird but unique and different. Not sure I'd put them in my garden but I like them. Great blog!!

  15. Love the study in blue...... my fav Myles from Nowhere..whimsy always intriguing.

  16. You posted 2 of my favorite blues: Va. Bluebells and Delphiniums. We can't grow Delphs here but larkspur do well and though smaller they have those same shimmering shades of blue.

    I love the picture of the Globe Thistle. I always enjoy your beautiful color essays.

  17. Thanks Everyone for your comments. Elephant Eye, we visited the little blue shop with the sign "Miles from Nowhere" when we returned home to Nova Scotia for a visit a few years ago. We decided that year to travel from Halifax up to Cape Breton, which is one of the most beautiful places in Canada you could possibly visit. We came across the shop one afternoon. Unfortunately, "Myles" was on a break and had left a "Be back soon" sign on the door to the store-so no, we didn't get to meet him. Gardeningbren, in her comment above, says that he is " a dear man" who has been selling folkart for years.

  18. I love your blues! You really showed so many different kinds. The public garden on the lake-wowser! Awesome textures and colors. The morning glory shots are spectacular!

    I saw your gnome post below. I weigh in that they are simply cute. I love them in my garden and wish I had more than the few that I do have. Self expression is for sure what it is all about. If it makes me happy that is all that matters because it is my garden. Neighbors can look elsewhere but I guarantee you they are always looking here so maybe they like them too but won't admit it?:)

  19. Beautiful photos as always Jennifer! You've given me some ideas as I'm planning a new border that has a lot of blue/purple colours. I just ordered Siberian Iris Caesar's Brother which is a dark blue/purple as well as some monkshood.

  20. Excellent blue post although some of these flowers are actually what I call "horticultural blue": purple flowers called blue to increase sales. The shrub is Caryopteris clandonensis and comes in a wonderful gold-leafed cultivar 'Worcester Gold'. I think I need that blue Rose of Sharon. Do you know what cultivar it is?

  21. I'm totally smitten with the blue building at the beginning of your post! It's just downright fun!

  22. Beautiful!! I also love the blue store. It looks like a fun place to shop. I'm growing a short russian sage in a pot this year and also have echinops (globe thistle). I love blue flowers and have them in almost every bed!!

  23. Beautiful blues at your garden, Jennifer. don´t miss the beauty of agapantos!!
    hugs my dear

  24. oops, perhaps in the summer, you are in spring time now, I forgot

  25. Blue flowers, everyone loves them, you have shown us some terrific shots, the Globe thistle is very special. Blue fences, sheds, houses, no thank you, throw them back at the garden gurus of the 90s.

  26. Thanks everyone for your comments. Carolyn, I am sorry but I do not know the name of the variety of Rose of Sharon that I have shown in this post. It was a mature shrub and so I imagine it is not one of the newer varieties like 'Blue Bird' or 'Blue Satin'.

  27. Linked in from Creative Exchange and had to peek at your gorgeous blues. So many beautiful photos and the blue store is a fabulous find!

  28. Can anyone help me identify a ground cover with a serrated leaf (similar to mint) and a tiny cobalt blue, four petaled flower that’s invasive and growing in Ontario?
    I can’t pull it fast enough every year and haven’t been able to identify it !
    it’s not Veronica Arvensis, doesn’t appear to be a speedwell or chickweed, I will try to post a picture ....


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