A Year Full of Blues

>> Monday, May 5, 2008

My garden is beginning its second year of life. Its pretty barren compared to those of you who have been at this a little longer than I have. Since I started the garden with small transplants, they haven’t yet matured to the point that they toss very many seeds out to start new plants. It is in the creep phase of that ‘first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap’ scheme of things. Therefore, I don’t have high expectations of my garden fully taking off this year.

While I am waiting for the greatly anticipated full-on bloom of next year, I am left with some barren areas that although may be somewhat depressing to view they do present a great deal of potential. I could leave them be, in order to have room for these existing pants to spread out, or I could put in some blue flowering plants.

Searching the internet and garden blogs have resulted in quite a few nice surprises concerning blue flowering plants. If my plan is executed properly I can have blue blooms from March to October.

The earliest would naturally be bulbs, and there are many to choose from. Iris reticulata “Harmony”, Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa), and Siberian Squill (Scilla sibrica) are considered minor bulbs in comparison with the tulips and daffodils. Planted in generous clusters of several dozen or more they should put on quite a display.

One of my favorite flowers is Iris so I can’t think of a better way to wake up the early garden than with Iris reticulata, the earliest of all Iris. It only stands just under 6” tall and according to Dave’s Garden will grow here in North central Utah’s zone 5-6. It blooms in March to early April.

Glory of the Snow often blooms while there is still snow on the ground. Talk about your early riser. The colder the weather, the longer they last. Like the Iris reticulata, these grow to about 6” tall with grasslike leaves. They are found in zones 4 to 8 and are very easy to care for.

The bright blue flowers of Siberian Squill are one of the first spring-flowering bulbs to brighten up the landscape. These grow in zones 2 to 8 and stand just 6”.

There are other blue flowering bulbs, the popular Grape Hyacinths, sometimes called Muscari, are found just about everywhere from late March through April if the weather stays cool enough. Wild Hyacinth (Camassia) or Quamash is considered a native bulb and blooms a little later and grows to two feet tall. Bluebells: English and Spanish (Hyacinthoides) naturalize easily in partial shade of trees and the flower garden. Then there is the traditional Hyacinth, providing fragrance and a larger flower head these bulbs range in color from mid blue to dark purple.

English Bluebells are fragrant and very easy to naturalize and last up to 4 weeks beginning in March in zones 5-8. These are members of the Scilla family and can grow up to 18” tall.

True blue is a relatively rare color among flowers, but the following flowers come close.

From late April in May there is the False Indigo (Baptisia australis) zone 3-9.

Larkspur (Consolida ambigua) zone late April thru mid to late June.

Heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) zone 4-8 May and June.

Lilyleaf ladybells (Adenophora confusa) zone 3-8 May into July.

Aka False Campanula, grows up to 24” tall and 24” wide. They prefer light shade and may be invasive if given the right environment.

American bellflower (Campanula Americana) zone 4-8 late June into August.

This plant can be an annual or biennial growing up to 6’ tall. It prefers light shade to partial sun, moist conditions. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and skippers.

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) zone 4-9 August into October.

Growing to 36” it brings color late in the season when mostly we see the reds, yellows and oranges of fall.

I think these plants should satisfy my thirst for blue. Can you think of any others to add?


Kate May 5, 2008 at 11:53 PM  

We have a lovely little deep-blue-flowering plant native to my area called Dianella. There are also a couple of exquisite shrubs that are common here (but not native, probably South African)with masses of true blue flowers that seem to glow on a grey winter day -Ceonothus and Plumbago.

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