Hot Blues

One of my goals when I started Garden 337 was to include as many blue flowering plants as possible.  I read once that true blue flowers are rare.  I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, nor do I really know what “true blue” means.  But I have succeeded in my quest to incorporate blues.And they are a welcomed sight in this 90 degree weather.

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Blue flowers come from anthocyanins, a flavinoid that contains sugar.  Red and orange flowers can thank carotinoids for their hues. Blue flowers can thank anthocyanins.  Sometimes it is acidic conditions coupled with the presence of aluminum or iron that prompt anthocyanins to do their thing. We see this in hydrangeas.  My soil is more alkaline and so I apply acid in hopes of getting that deep gorgeous blue.  I’m rarely successful, though.  None of my Nikko Blue hydrangeas seem to find their blue muse.  But I keep trying.

Nepeta–Cool Cat Catmint

But Cool Cat Nepeta, catmint, a relative of catnip, gives me a long blue flowering season.  And my cat and the neighbor’s enjoy the flavor or the “high” they get from the larger-than-usual catmint variety.  So, too, do the lavenders give me both fragrance and color.

Perennial geranium against White Dome Hydrangeas

Lavandula angustifolia (Hidecote) gives me that rich blue color and that traditional lavender scent from both its flowers and foliage.  I did have to pull a lot of my Hidecote out last summer.  It was woody and scraggly, but what is left is lovely and healthy.  I also have a sizable clump of Lavandula intermedia ‘Grosso’ that sends up long spires of fragrant blooms. I keep trying to get one of the provencal varieties to take hold, but I suspect west Michigan winters are too harsh for these pretty plants.  The word “lavender,” by the way, comes from the Latin word for “wash.”  It seems the Romans liked to put lavender in their bath water.  Early US settlers used lavender as a flea repellent.  Good to know…

Hidecote Lavender with Zagreb Coreopsis

But the Veronica spicata Royal Candles do just fine.  Often called “speedwell,” there are oodles of varieties and some are considered weeds.  But Royal Candles is very nicely behaved.

Royal Candles Veronica behind alchemilla. The Grosso Lavender is just budding out

This little bubbler is a new addition.  I found it at a garden center in Grand Haven.

This new little fountain sits at the entrance to the Secret Garden. The raccoons like to lift the flower off and drink from the reservoir.

2 thoughts on “Hot Blues

  1. Thank you for the long posts – we became the keepers of a modest 1926 bungalow in Nebraska about three years ago and have worked on repairing the gardens after a decade of neglect. Thank you for the landscaping ideas and the meticulous identification of all your cultivars!. We inherited stella d’oro daylillies, blighted peonies, and hostas, which we’ve split, tossed, replanted, fungicided, etc. We put in the lovely royal candles speedwell last year. Again, thank you so much, your blog is definitely a great inspiration and I’m going to bring in coral bells (heuchera) this year based on some of your pictures.

    1. Thank you, Jessica. My house was built in 1926, too.

      I was born in Nebraska. My father grew up in Omaha; my mother grew up in Council Bluffs.

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