Ethereal Blue

Who doesn’t love blue? Flowers that mimic the dawn sky or the Caribbean can cool the eye in a woodland while others bring a stunning vitality to full sun gardens and containers. I have photo folders for both Foliage and Flowers and recently made one called Blue. It’s worth looking into for new ideas - here are some of my favorites from my gardens.

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’

Scilla is a tiny bulb (corm) that’s commonly called wood squill as they naturalize in shady areas and do well in woodland settings - they emerge before the tree canopy so can maximize the light conditions. They’re very small so I like to plant them in clumps to get a bigger effect. Note the purplish stems and the deeper blue striations on the backs of the petals. These bloom in very early spring.

Muscari armeniacum, blue grape hyacinth

Muscari armeniacum, blue grape hyacinth

Grape hyacinth is a really electric blue that borders on purple - a must for walkways in sunny spots. Muscari are deer resistant, attract early pollinators, and have a very mild scent - and they’re good for cutting. I grow them with variegated Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ in amongst peonies. After blooming cut stems back; the strappy foliage will persist through the summer and fall.

Ipomea ‘Heavenly Blue’

Ipomea ‘Heavenly Blue’

For a couple years I grew this morning glory on my vegetable garden fence and enjoyed its riotous behavior but soon tired of its prolific self seeding. ‘Heavenly Blue’ lives up to its name though - and each flower has a white-cream-yellow eye that brings bees into the pollen-rich center. Good for arbors, fences, and tuteurs.

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blue spires

Look to Delphiniums and Salvias for summer spikes in a variety of heights. This is Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Butterfly Blue’ which grows only 10” tall - it’s a good one for a mixed border. I grew the super huge Pacific Giant type delphinium for a couple years but ultimately found them to be too much work - they’re so tall they require heavy staking and they often flop even when tied securely. This type of hybrid is also short-lived. Something that’s smaller and more manageable is what I’m after. I have a lot of Salvia - both annual and perennial - and love their floriferous wands and the bees they attract. Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is an annual I put in containers every year, and S. ‘Indigo Spires’ is another standout with long lasting deep blue color.

Clematis vine with a good combination of blue and purple

Clematis vine with a good combination of blue and purple

Clematis is another genus with good color options. Usually grown as a climbing vine, there are many shrub forms (called bush clematis) that are cold-hardy. I’m intrigued by this cultivar offered by Bluestone Perennials called ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’ with its cloud of smaller blue and white flowers and easy care.

Salvia ‘Victoria’ in the vegetable garden

Salvia ‘Victoria’ in the vegetable garden

The longest lasting blue in my gardens every year - Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’ (mealy cup sage). Planted in early June and cut throughout the growing season, it will continue to bloom until frost. Love this one.

Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’

Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’

Here’s another annual that I usually always make room for - commonly called floss flower, look for it at garden centers in 4” pots and transplant to a sunny border or container. This is another long-bloomer if kept deadheaded and it also makes a cheerful cut flower that looks great with zinnias of all colors. There are many cultivars, ‘Blue Horizon’ has been around a while. I’ve also grown ‘Artist Blue’ and found it kept producing until frost (along with marigolds) in my USDA Zone 5 garden.