Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summertime Blues

They say that a true, pure blue in the garden is hard to find.  There is masses written about plants that are or are not blue but in fact shades of purple, lavender or mauve which pass themselves of as blue.  I do like blue in the garden, blue is my favourite colour.  Whether or not the blues in my garden are in fact blue, they look blue enough to me to consider them blue!  I've also read that bees, insects and other pollinators can't actually see the colour blue.  I find that in my garden they have no problem locating these plants, in fact some of them seem to be favoured by them.  I therefore conclude that it must the their scent that is the attraction.  Some I find have obvious scent, for example Nepeta, Salvia and of course Lavender but others are completely void of any scent to human nose.   

Only this afternoon I was driving past a garden that was full to bursting with Blue Hydrangeas.    The sweeping bank that wrapped around the driveway was a sea of blue.  The garden was large and could easily carry it off.   How I wish I'd had my camera with me to get a shot.  It was a sight for sore eyes let me tell you.

For a moment or two I had a slight pang of regret at having gave away my Hydrangeas last year.  When I got home, I realised that my garden was not completely void of blue.  There's lots of blues that I suppose aren't really blue if you want to get down to the nitty gritty but I'm not one for getting into the nitty gritty of such things, life's just too short!

Two blue plants that grow in my garden are really not for me, if I'm honest!  I just get the benefit of the flowers.  I grow these especially for the cats.  One of my cats is particularly possessive over his catmint.  He goes to all sorts of lengths to stop his brothers or neighbouring cats getting their paws on it.  Here's a picture taken last year, I had just planted it and had a good old chew before I gave it some protection.  You can actually see the loving and longing in his eyes or is it that's he's just high!  More likely the later.

Titch looking admiringly at a newly planted Nepeta

Tip - For those that find cats destroy catmint - protecting the crown of the plant with an upturned wire hanging basket like this is great.  It prevents the cats from rolling on the crown and killing the plant.  It does look a little odd until the plants fills out and disguises the wires.

The dry sunny weather has done wonders for the catmint this year.  Nepeta grandiflora Blue Danube - is a nice compact variety and thanks to the wire basket, remains very upright.  This is the same plant as above one year on.
 

Another catmint, a taller more vigorous variety Nepeta Six Hills Giant.  It can be rather floppy in the conditions in my garden but the wire basket just helps it stay a tad more erect but small enough to keep the arching habit the plant has naturally.  The fact that Nepeta is popular with the bees is another good reason to grow at least one of these in the garden, providing you have a good spot for it that is.

Nepeta Six Hills Giant
Buddleia davidii Blue Empire, with a feeding drone fly (Eristalis tenax) is flowering a good couple of weeks earlier this year.  I do hope we see some early butterflies to go along with it.  I'll need to keep on top of dead heading if it's too meet the demand of the butterflies that appear later in the season.

Buddleia davidii Blue Empire and Eristalis tenax
A hardy blue geranium, naturally a bit of a clamberer rather than a clumper, has managed to use a nearby Clematis as support and is doing almost as good job of climbing the trellis as the Clematis is.  You can make out Aconitum Stainless Steel in the border behind the trellis, another non blue blue!

Unknown blue hardy Geranium and Aconitum Stainless Steel 
Spring flowering Brunnera produces an abundance of pretty little forget me not type flowers early in the year.  The plants that grow here in full sun are generally a bit tired by the time we reach June, those in shade do far better.  I learned many years ago that by chopping them right back to the ground, they produce new foliage in a mater of 2 weeks and a second flush of flowers mid July.  Granted it doesn't flower quite so prolifically but I don't mind that one bit.


Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost

A new blue I've introduced to the garden this summer was a bit of an impulsebuy  to tell you the truth.  Once I got them home I really did struggle to find them a home. I found the dark blue quite intense and it clashed with almost everything I placed it beside.  However, after reading they are short lived (expensive lesson!) I decided that I'd give them a go beside Primula vialii, which is also quite fussy but reliably perennial here in my garden for the past 3 years.  So if it's to come back, this could well be the ideal spot.
Primula capitata noverna Deep Blue
The next blue came as quite a surprise.  I have not seen this plant for 2 years.  I planted 3 together in a clump summer 2011 and gradually they all disappeared.  I planted Geranium sanguineum in it's place.  Which appeared to be a bit more reliable in my garden.   Isn't it odd when these things happen.
Geranium Pratense Black Beauty
and
Geranium sanguineum
Hosta Aureomarginata gets a bit too much sun, not only does it fade the foliage, it reduces the purple tone of the flowers to the extent they look almost blue when they are fully opened.

Hosta Aureomarginata
If you visit nurseries and GCs in summer there are generally a wide range of Salvias available in many shades of blues and purples.  Salvia x sylvestris Blue Queen seen here with the blue of Clematis The Vagabond.  Salvias are another range of plants that are loved by pollinators.

Salvia x sylvestris Blue Queen
and
Clematis The Vagabond
A couple of sun loving blues that don't cope with conditions in my garden - a blue agapanthus (there will be more on this plant in future blog) and Eryngium bougatii Graham Stuart Thomas grows in a pot, it means I can provide better drainage that is available in the ground. 

Blue Agapanthus

Eryngium bourgatii Graham Stuart Thomas
The Eryngium should come complete with an ouch warning.  If I've pricked myself on that sharp foliage once, I've did it a thousand times! 

The bendy blue racemes of Veronicastrum virginicum Apollo fascinate me.  No two flowers bend the same way.  This North American native makes a nice statement in any border.  Despite the fact it is not a native and blue, it still attracts plenty of pollinators.  Except when I have the camera out that is!


Flowers aren't the only blues right now.  Mahonia, The Oregon Grape (you can see why it got it's common name) is abundant with blue/purple berries or should that be grapes?  Either way, they make a nice statement on their own.  This year was the first it had flowered in 3 years, therefore the first time I've had berries.  Whether or not they are eaten by the birds remains to be seen.
Mahonia x media Charity
More blue adornments, this time by the way of cones on Abies Koreana Silberline.  Everyone that sees this tree comments on the cones and can't believe their eyes.

Abies koreana Silberline
The last of my blues in flower this week is a new Clematis I picked up in the supermarket in springtime.  It was rather small but is coming on a treat in a pot until it puts on a good root system and I can plant it out in Autumn.
Clematis Rhapsody
So there you have them, my summertime blues!  Are you a sucker for blue flowers?  I know I am. Do you find that the pollinators are as attracted to the blues as they are other colours in your garden?  You might not even like blue in the garden, I couldn't imagine a garden without it mind you.

I hope the weather has been kind to you all this weekend, as it has here.  Long may it continue!
Shades of Blue

32 comments:

  1. Bellissimo come sempre!!! Ma quell'Abies è bellissimo, è la prima volta che lo vedo! Complimenti :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Felice di avervi introdotto il Abies Pontos, non è stupendo!

      Delete
  2. Angie I love that shot of the blue garden at the end..so many of my favorite blue flowers...I am helpless for blue flowers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Donna - there is something so attractive to blue flower, it seems from comments that we are not alone.
      Glad you like the blue display, they do look good together don't they?

      Delete
  3. There is 'something' about blue in the garden....always feels a tad special and like you, can't get enough of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure is Jane, luckily we gardeners tend not to be so scientific about the non blue blues!

      Delete
  4. I too am fascinated with blue flowers in the garden. I always find myself moving swiftly towards them when I'm visiting others gardens. I often find that it's hard to capture the blue on camera, and it often turns out purple on the screen. True blues are hard to find, but I'll take my purple-blues, whatever, whenever :)

    Thanks for the really helpful tips about growing catmint. I have often wanted to but knew that my cat Merlyn was too addicted to catmint for it to ever get very big. Although we sadly lost our Merlyn, thanks to you, for the future I know the trick of having a cat and catmint too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about the camera - it also depends on the light at specific times of day. You can take a shot of something blue on the hour every hour and each one will show up a different colour. Which can at times be a real pain!
      Glad to share this tip and it really does work. Sorry to hear of your loss of Merlyn - loosing a family pet is really devastating.

      Delete
  5. oooo Angie what a delightful lot of blues, blue is my favourite colour too, I love all your blue plants and to me you have so many, I haven't seen any problem with pollinators finding blue flowers and the big white butterflies in my garden love one of my unknown blue geraniums, purples and mauves are my second favourites so I love those colours in flowers too, I love your first photo, cats are my favourite animal, big and small, how nice that geranium black beauty has returned, I find this has happened with some of my plants and I've come to the conclusion that they are not showing much top growth but building up a root system first, Frances

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice that we share a love of cats big and small Frances. I once had the pleasure of bottle feeding a baby tiger, one of the best moments of my life!
      The appeal of blue flowers is universal I think, the first border I ever planned for this garden was shades of blue, white and pink. Although that border has been changed over the years many of the plants are still with me. Glad I'm not the only one that finds plants reappear when they've been dormant for a while. Fills me with confidence that it's not just me.

      Delete
  6. What a lovely collection of blues Angie! I have the same Hardy Geranium as you and love it's little burst of colour through the pinks in my garden. Lol, to the catmint. I have some in a pot so I can keep it out of reach while it's growing, as, like you say, it tends to get squashed otherwise. I'll have to try popping some in the garden and using your trick to cover the crown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Paula. I'm really looking forward to this geranium getting big enough to split. I can see it's usefulness around the garden and am getting impatient.
      Good luck with the basket. It really does work.
      I've also come across a Nepeta that the cats don't seem to like. It's a pink variety called Dusk to Dawn. I planted it a few weeks ago and thus far no cats have even looked at it.

      Delete
  7. I love blue flowers as do bees and I don't understand why blue flowers are considered rare as I can think of lots of true blue flowers. Not shades of purple but really really blue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you Sue - it strikes me as odd. I suppose it's all scientific but to me there are lots of true blues out there, or they are to my naked eye at least.

      Delete
  8. Some lovely plants in the blue category for you. The photo with your cat is adorable.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Cher, glad you liked the photo. He looks all innocent lying there but he really is a one cat demolition squad in the garden. He flattens at least one plant a day when he's jumping about trying to catch bees and other beasties.

      Delete
  9. thanks for an interesting post, Angie, what a wide variety of blues you grow! It is my favourite colour too, so nice to see your collection. I have found the dark leaved geraniums are not as robust as the usual green varieties and have struggled to thrive. I also have blue Penstemons which have a very long flowering season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm envious of your blue Penstemon Jane. They don't do well here due to the winter wet and having no place to over winter cuttings means they are not worth growing. A lesson I've learned many times.
      Thanks for the comment on the dark leaved geranium, when I compare to others, I can see you are right. A couple of those bronzed leaved ones that barely hang on too.

      Delete
  10. You have some lovely blues there Angie, but what I really want to say is THANK YOU! I adore nepetas, and dearly want to grow them in my front garden, but the local cat population has been putting paid to that. Your basket idea is pure genius. I must see if I can rescue the poor battered specimen I dared to try out the front...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, please do let me know how you get on. I've recently planted some white flowering Nepeta in my front garden and it has worked there too. It's good to find a tip that really does work.
      Wishing your Nepeta all the best!

      Delete
  11. Those blue fir cones are incredible! I love blue in the garden too. My garden was dominated by blue Agapanthus for 2 months but they're mostly gone now and I already miss that punch of blue color. I added Nepeta for the first time this year (its a marginal performer for me) and its power to attract the neighborhood cats (who otherwise seldom visit my garden) was incredible - one plant was destroyed and the other 2 are half-eaten and drugged cat visitors are now commonplace.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I tried to leave a comment yesterday but when I clicked publish it vanished and a message said there was a problem with the site, here goes again ....
    I love all your blue plants Angie and I love cats, big and small, you have some beautiful blue flowers, blue is my favourite colour too, followed by mauves and purples, love the first photo, Frances
    as there have been no new posts since I was here yesterday I'm thinking there may still be a problem, lets see .....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Island Threads14 July 2014 at 19:26

      that's weird as my previous comment and lots of comments are now showing, Frances

      Delete
  13. You're singing the blues in the best Lady Day tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wish I'd had your tip about protecting Nepeta before I gave up growing them many years ago! Our neighbouring cats had a field day! A fantastic idea! I thought I'd tried everything, but still our feline friends won! (Your moggie does look inebriated!)
    What beautiful blues you have there, Angie, and nice that you considered more than flowers. There is more to a plant than just the flowers, if you choose well. It's all looking good.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Blue flowers are irresistible. Specially the ones that bloom in summer. I love the Primula, what a gorgeous colour. I have never seen such a blue, blue Clematis as that one. I love Agapanthus, the large headed ones aren' t hardy so I grow them in pots. I have to have an Abies, those cones are wonderful
    You have lots of lovely blues to stop you feeling blue Angie.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oooo, I like those blues and purples and lavenders! And the combinations and the potted arrangements. Bravo! I love those little surprises in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Angie, what an enjoyable blue post! All your blues are beautiful and well captured. I love Nepeta but didn't think that humans could chew it too ;). Some true blues are rather difficult to integrate unless you have a two-tone-border e.g. orange-blue. Brunnera is one of my favourites. Strange that you've had such dry weather...it rained a lot here and everything looks so lush and happy, only the tomatoes are sulking.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lovely blues in your garden Angie. The real blue plants like Delphiniums are not always easy to combine with, I use them in combination with the roses but after some time I get bored of it, I don´t know why.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Blue is my favorite color also - except maybe for orange. I am irritated by people who go on about "true blue" and that my blue flowers are really purple or lilac or lavender. Blue is in the eye of the beholder, I say! I like your blue flowers. I have some of the same, such as hardy geranium. Right now most of my blue is from the Veronicastrum but I am waiting for our morning glories to start blooming. Also I have a dwarf buddleia called 'Adonis Blue'.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Angie
    Glad I dropped by again as I think my comment from yesterday got lost in cyber space. More importantly, I love all of your blues. Looks like the weather has been pretty kind to you as everything is looking so good. So much still going on here I have been neglecting my blogging. Enjoy the rest of the Summer and I will drop by again in a couple of weeks or so.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Lots of blue going on in your garden.

    As you say there are lots of different kinds of blue and I think some people take these things far too seriously!

    Interesting tip about the Brunnera, I didn't realise that they would regrow in a fortnight. Mine are in the shade and stay looking good all through the summer so it is something that I have never had to look into.

    I bought the Nepeta Six Hills Giant from Binny Plants a few years ago and it has done really well in my garden. It is surrounded by other tall perennials and shrubs, so doesn't flop.

    I love Veronicastrum and have several varieties in my garden. I think that they are real do-gooders and I would not be without mine.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are appreciated. My blog is currently experiencing issues with some readers reporting problems when posting their comments. Please bear with me whilst I try to rectify the problem.
I have temporarily switched on word verification. I apologise for this, personally, I don't like it either, I am hoping this may help.