Subtle or bright, blue takes common garden flowers to new heights. Blue seems to blend with everything. If you have read anything about landscape design, you have heard about color echo. This is the art of duplicating a color throughout your garden. It looks like you actually have a plan! In this case, I’m suggesting blue. To get that color echo, you can slip a few blue flowers at random intervals along your border.
Blue annuals (live one year) are not plentiful in the marketplace. Annuals, though, are good to plop into a border to fill up holes in the line-up. They are hard working and bloom for most of a season. Some reliable annual blues are petunias, pansies, violas, scaveola, the herb borage, wishbone flower (Torenia), bachelor buttons, larkspur, and ageratum.
Mark your beds now so you can add bulbs in the fall. Grape hyacinth (Muscari) is a great little blue flower popping up in early spring. Agapanthus’ large blue flower heads come along in early summer. Grow them in a pot in areas where they are not winter hardy. They can take a few years to settle down and bloom.
Blue perennials (live two or more years) will die down in cold weather and re-sprout the following spring. You can use a beautiful flowering vine, clematis (pronounced CLE-ma-tis in the South and clem-À-tis in the North) on a tuteur or let them scramble over roses or up small trees. Clematis ‘Will Goodwin’ has large blue flowers with yellow stamens. You can even send Will up a black walnut tree! He is tolerant of juglone’, the poison that black walnut trees exude. Perhaps you are not a fan of the large dinner plate clematis. Then consider the little bells of Clematis integrifolia. These sweet little flowers are not overbearing. You should site them near a walkway so they can be discovered and enjoyed by passersby.
Red is great to lure hummingbirds to the garden but Salvia guaranitica, with its blue flowers rich in nectar, has them hovering in my flowerbeds all day long. Hardy in zones 8-10, you can grow it as an annual outside of its range. Pincushion flower (Stokesia), mophead hydrangeas in acid soil (Hydrangea macrophylla), Anise Hyssop ‘Blue Fortune’ (Agastache), Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Purple Smoke False Indigo (Baptisia x), Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’, forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) & the herb Rosemary all have shades of blue flowers. There is even a so-called blue rose (Veilchenblau) although I would call it more purple/red than blue.
There are even blue foliaged evergreens. Try Rhododendron bureavii ‘Cinnamon Bear’, Carolina Sapphire (Cupressus arizonica var. glabra "Carolina Sapphire"), or the many cultivars of blue spruce (Picea pungens) like the creeping ‘Procumbens’ or, as its name says it all, ‘Fat Albert’.
If you haven’t been able to accomplish color echo with flowers, then try using hardscape additions to repeat or “echo” a color throughout your garden. You can do this by dotting your garden with blues in the forms of containers, garden art, or painted benches and arbors. You don’t have to use blue but the color of the sky fits into everyone’s garden.
Posted July 12, 2013
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