Maybe it’s because I have blue eyes, but long before I became a gardener, my favorite color was blue. Cobalt blue, robin’s egg blue, sea or sky blue – it didn’t matter, as long as the basic color was blue.
These days I make my living designing and photographing gardens, and although my own tastes have expanded to other colors, I’m often asked to include blues in the landscapes I design. Several years ago, after reading an article in The Garden Letter on reds in the garden, I was inspired to walk through my yard, notebook in hand. To my surprise, I discovered that my old subconscious affinity for blue has resulted in having more than twenty plants with blue flowers, blue foliage, or a combination of the two. Here are some of my favorites.
Early bloomers include Scilla siberica (Siberian squall), which for me appears with ‘Tete-a-Tete’ daffodils and Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells). I grow them under a huge beech tree in a bed of vinca that disguises their dying foliage.
Then comes Amsonia tabernaemontana, the blue star flower. Its blooms are a mixture of a very dark blue and a lighter blue as they start to open, changing to sky blue completely. In the fall, this perennial’s foliage turns a lovely golden yellow and lasts until frost.
Amsonia blooms about the same time as Iris siberica ‘Caesar’s Brother,’ a lush, velvet blue.
More gray-blue than pure blue are stalwarts like some of the smaller ornamental grasses, like Festuca ‘Elijah Blue,’ whose steely color and fine texture contrast well with plants like peonies and Iris pallida ‘Variegata.’
Hosta ‘Halcyon,’ one of the classic blue hostas, serves the same function, and when grown in the right amount of shade, its leaves can look almost purely silver-blue.
Some of my favorite blues (aside from the gorgeous Meconopsis at the top of this post), however, are found in the clematis family. The two large-flowered blue varieties I’ve grown for the longest time include ‘General Sigorsky’ (although recently the deer seem to have developed a taste for it), shown here on my rickety wooden arbor.
My other blue clematis is ‘H.F. Young,’ which I’ve also planted successfully for clients with similar penchants for blue flowers (and fewer deer).
I’m done for today. You probably have your own favorites – let’s hear about them, and post some photos on your own blog so I can check them out!