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.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, May 15, 2010

It’s Bloom Day and I’ve ceremoniously taken pictures of today’s participants.

Pana rhododendrons and Cat

The Pana Rhododendrons are doing very well.  I put acid around them last summer and that has made them very happy.  My soil is quite alkaline.

Spirea Japonica (Bridal Veil)

The old spirea is still going strong, and the Francis Williams hostas are holding their own despite the fact that they are surrounded by trailing arches of white.

I was surprised to see one of the catmint (Nepeta subsessilis–Cool Cat) had a couple of small blooms.  These usually appear on longer stalks, but I’ll take this little guy because he is the promise of many more blue blooms later.

Catmint

Also in bloom are the Michael McFarland lilacs.  I worried about these last year.  I got them at the end of the 2008 season at bargain basement prices at a garden center, then transplanted several of them last summer.  I was worried they would just get tired of the shock, but it turns out they are joyously blooming.

Michael McFarland Lilac

I wish my other lilacs bloomed this much this soon after finding their home in my garden.  Alas, I have to wait a few more seasons.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the Michaels and their sweet fragrance.

Near the lilacs is the big old dogwood.  It’s blooms look like those of a red twig. It may be as old as the house, which means it got its start in the 1920’s.  The old girl makes a perfect backdrop for the Garden Lady statue.  In the distance behind the Lady are the Cheddar Pinks that have been planted and transplanted several times.

Old dogwood in the secret garden
The Lady and the dogwood

One delightful surprise is the amsonia x Blue Ice.  I bought five of them at the end of the season last summer, for a dollar each.  They are charming and I’m sure will put on more of a show in about a week.  But a bloom is a bloom!

Amsonia x Blue Ice

The Bleeding Heart (dicentra) are starting to fade, but one tendril of blooms trailed over the hat of this little statue that was a gift when I retired from public school teaching.  I bought the plant at Meijer Gardens two years ago.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Behind this little girl is a “wall” of Virginia Creeper.  I have begun the almost daily battle to keep it at bay.  At one time it completely covered the old fence that used to separate my yard from the park.  Now it only grows on the chain link fence that separates my yard from my neighbor’s.  I chop it.  I dig it up.   The only thing I can’t do is ignore it.

The first of the Heuchera are blooming.  This one is actually not a true Heuchera, but a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella–Foamy Bells.  I like the contrast on the leaves, and it sits well with the Heurcheras that I planted between the boxwoods and the brink entrance way.

Heurcherella, Foamy Bells

And in the secret garden, the columbine (Winky Blue) are still blooming.  They were another end of the season buy.  I love those!

Winky Blue Columbine

The Hansa roses are just getting starting and sending up their first fragrant bloom. Below are Wildberry Breeze and Wild Spice.

I want to thank May Dreams Garden for creating Bloom Day.  A friend told me about it just last week, I think, and went home and began a Google search.  It didn’t take long to bring up May and Blotanical.  I’ve been happily looking at garden blogs ever since.

If you’ve gotten this far, then scroll down just a bit more to see the Hansa roses.  I love these guys!!  They are impervious to pests, with, perhaps, the exception of Japanese Beetles.  But they never get black spot, something that dogs the other roses in the medalion.  And they smell so good!

Hansa Wildberry Breeze
Wild Spice