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.

Feeling the Blues

I know that on my Blotanical profile I say that red is my favorite color in the garden.  But I also love those blues.  And the gardens are singing the sweet blues today.  The Hidcote Lavender (lavendula angustifolia hidcote) is in full bloom and so is the Jean Davis Lavender (lavendual angustifolia cv. Jean Davis), which is pink.  But never mind.  The Endless Summer (hydrangea macrophylla endless summer) hydrangeas are sorta kinda blue.

Endless Summer Hydrangea

I still haven’t gotten the right amount of acid applied to the soil around several of them.  The Nikko Blue (hydrangea macrophylla nikko blue) is anything but blue.

But the perennial geranium is bravely battling its way through the White Dome (arborescens ‘dardom’) hydrangeas and showing off its bright blue blooms.  These are especially pretty against the white lace caps.

But I’ve noticed something.  Or, more accurately, I have NOT noticed something.  There seem to be fewer bees humming around the hydrangeas.  It may be the weather has been too wet or too cool.   I’ve seen honey bees, but very few carpenter or bumble bees.  Bumble bees are social, but carpenter bees are solitary so  don’t think there was a hive collapse, primarily because carpenter bees don’t live in a hive.  I wonder if they were victims of our hard winter.

Perennial Geranium Amongst the White Dome Hydrangeas

Royal Candles Veronica With Lady's Mantle

The Royal Candles Veronica (Veronica spicata royal candles) is a pretty backdrop for the Lady’s Mantle.

But perhaps the big news of the day is that the first of the day lilies bloomed today.  Hemerocallis ‘Crystal Pinot’ wins the race.  I suspect others will pop open within the next few days.

The red carpet rose is also blooming.  And, it’s looking splendid against two perennial geraniums in the Secret Garden. I wish I had recorded this variety of perennial geranium. It blooms a little later, but is so nicely behaved.  Unlike the unnamed geranium in the lower garden, this variety doesn’t get leggy and flop.

I am totally in love with the rose campion (lychnis coronaria).  It doesn’t live very long, at least in my garden, but I’m willing to replant it every few years just for the lovely velvety grey foliage and the vibrant pink blooms.  It sits in my lower garden where I can see it from my kitchen widow.  I have a little desk in front of that window and often pop open my laptop and work there.  Since there are bird feeders outside the window, the cat usually joins me.

Rose Campion With Pigmy Barberry

Perennial Geranium With Red Carpet Roseflop.

Crystal Pinot Day Lily