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.

New Treasures and a Catminted Cat

Owl Box

Part of the fun of going to the Leelanau Peninsula is poking around all the little shops.   I found two fun items at a little shop in Leland.  I knew I wanted the mustard colored box and only learned after I inquired about it that it is an owl box.  It was the wonky heart opening that sucked me in.  And the color.  The other treasure was more expensive.  And heavy.  It’s a yard light, sort of shaped like a light house.  I loved the patina, the copper cupola, and, oh, I don’t know.  I just kind of knew it would look good in the Secret Garden.

Old Light Post in the Secret Garden

It took three women and one man passing by to get it into the back of my Escape.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get it out.  When I got home yesterday, the first thing I did was walk through the Secret Garden, and before I knew it, and before I had even begun to unpack the car, I had gotten out the spade and was replanting a hydrangea that I thought was dead but wasn’t. I had ripped it out before I left, but forgot to discard it.  There it was with green shoots, so I redug the hole and plopped it back in.  At that moment, my friend Dale came by to get some pots I had left out for him.  Poor Dale.  He often gets dragged into my heavy lifting projects.  He thought I was still out of town, so I’m sure his intent was to quickly grab the pots and leave.  Instead, he was commandeered into unloading the light (with its heavy cement base) and lugging it into the Secret Garden.

And it looks great!  I pulled up the old red fence post (or, rather, Dale pulled up the old red fence post) and put the light in its place.  The fence post is riddled with termites, something I knew would happen when I “planted” it in the ground.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

Dianthus (Cheddar Pinks) and Old Dogwood

The garden is looking ever so lush.  We’ve had lots of rain.  The pinks are doing their thing, and so is the old dogwood.

A neighborhood cat that comes to visit several times a day loves the catmint.  I could not get him to open his eyes for this picture.  I suspect he loves the catmint too much.

Jasper, High on Catmint