My Blue Heaven

Chanticleer Garden, meconopsis, Himalayan blue poppy

Meconopsis, the most beautifully blue flower of all. And no, it doesn't grow in my garden.

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.

Scilla siberica

A clump of Scilla siberica in my garden.

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 taebermontana 'Blue Ice'

Amsonia 'Blue Ice' shines in both the spring and fall.

Amsonia blooms about the same time as Iris siberica ‘Caesar’s Brother,’ a lush, velvet blue.

Iris siberica 'Caesar's Brother'

Siberian iris has fleeting but intense, deep blue blooms

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.’

Peony, Festuca 'Elijah Blue'

Festuca 'Elijah Blue' has blue-gray foliage, which appears more green than blue in this photograph.

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.

Hosta Halcyon

Blue-gray leaves of Hosta 'Halcyon' on the front hill of my garden.

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.

Clematis 'General Sigorsky'

This general deserves a blue ribbon.

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).

Clematis H.F. Young

A close-up peek at 'H.F. Young'

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!

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8 Comments on “My Blue Heaven”

  1. bangchik Says:

    It is not easy to understand why a person prefers a specific colour. That could be the key to the emotional balance or something… For me, it is GREEN, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
    ~bangchik

    • Melissa Says:

      Greens can be cool, vibrant, quiet or striking. Until I became a gardener, designer and then photographer, I had never appreciated the range and beauty of that color, but I would have to say that next to blue, it is my favorite.

  2. Pam/Digging Says:

    Texas bluebonnets are a favorite around here, and their deep blue is marvelous to see stretched across a field in springtime.


  3. I do love blue, when I am plant shopping, I always seem to go for the blue (or white) cultivar.

    • Melissa Says:

      I like planting white for clients because it’s the last color the eye sees as the light fades, so it gives you the most “bang for your buck” in gardens whose owners work away from home. But it’s the hardest color to photograph because of trying to capture detail without letting the whites blow out. The Siberian iris in the header I put up a few days ago is a good example.


  4. Like you, blue has always been my favorite color. I’ve grown to love others as well, but blue will forever be ‘the one’;-) Your photos are so pretty. My garden is filled with a variety of blues, too…Veronica, Geranium, Columbine, Hydrangea, Iris Reticulata, Lavendar, Agastache, Virginia bluebells, Salvia, Bluebeard, Aster…just a few I can think of! Would LOVE to be able to grow Meconopsis. Your clematis are beautiful. I only have the pink and the purple shades.

    • Melissa Says:

      I searched for a photo of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (and may add it if I can locate it in my files!!) because it has such a beautiful color and blooms for so long.


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