Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THE most common flower colours would appear to us humans as being white or yellow and maybe followed by a pink shade. In fact, it is green, which might seem strange at first but flowers are not produced for our pleasure – they are there to be pollinated and, thereby, the species will continue from seed into another generation.
Blue is the rarest colour, covering about 10% of the flower population and that makes them so special and desirable with plant breeders, who try their best to produce the demand we have created. I feel there are more than enough blue flowering plants to make us happy with the choice but they are not always on the shelf ready to go and need looking out for. I will make this easier by naming some of these plants in a number of categories below.
Blue is cool
The introduction of variety in the garden is important and one of the usual ways is to combine a number of compatible plant types and colours within the design. Some people go a step further and use only one theme in a section or the entire garden. In the last few months I have seen a Waterford garden where the flower colours were entirely white and it was stunning but it is more common to come across parts of the garden where it is either cool as in blue and white or hot with red, orange, yellow and similar shades, all quite effective and pleasing. That single minded approach is not for me but that is just a personal preference.
The quickest way to get some blue flowering plants into your garden is to obtain annual or patio flowers and bulbs. The blue flowering plants include Ageratum, Canterbury Bells, Cornflower, Echium, Morning Glory, Lobelia, Myosotis and Viola or Pansy. Blue flowering bulbs include Allium, Anemone, Bluebells, Chionodoxa, Crocus, Iris, Muscari and Scilla.
Rockery or alpine perennials include Aubretia, Ajuga, Campanula and the lesser known Lithospermum. Then for the taller herbaceous perennials we can include Aconitum, Agapanthus,
Anchusa, Aster, Aquilegia, Campanula, Centaurea, Delphinium, Echinops, Eryngium, Hosta (flowers and foliage), Iris, Liriope, Lupin, Meconopsis (bit tricky to grow), Nepeta, Pulmonaria, Salvia, Scabiosa, Tradescantia and Veronica.
There are a few blue flowering trees but they are probably not worth including in this list. The good blue climbers are Clematis, Passiflora, Solanium, Sollya and Wisteria. Blue flowering shrubs include Buddleia, Caryopteris, Ceanothus, Ceratostigma, Hebe, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Perovskia, Lavender, Rosemary, Syringa and Vinca.
The number of blue foliaged plants is limited but would include a number of conifers from the dwarf Juniper ‘Blue Star’ to the tall Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’, the blue Eucalyptus ‘Gunnii’. For those into ‘Blue Grass’ try Avena glauca, Festuca glauca, ‘Elijah Blue’ or Koeleria glauca.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The ideal period for sowing new lawns or patching up is either the spring until around the middle of June or again about eight weeks from September as outside those periods you are only giving yourself hardship in trying to achieve decent growth. You are better off putting the operation off if you are too late. Do continue to plant and sow vegetables and flowers for the next four weeks at least as thereafter the choices get reduced as the weeks go by. If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.