Thursday, August 9, 2018

Born to be Blue

If and when we finally find the 'holy grail' I'm convinced it will be blue. At least the gardener's holy grail. Perhaps more than all other colors combined, plants with true blue flowers are the most sought after by avid gardeners. You need look no further than the sheer volume of instances where the description 'blue' is used to describe the color of a plant's flowers, flowers it should be pointed out that in no way contain even some semblance of that color. Unless of course you count 'purple' as blue. Or pink. Or wine-red. So why do those determining the varietal name or the common name or even just the general description of these 'not-blue' flowers use the term blue? Well, because we all love that color. And because of all the common colors not named 'black,' brown' or green,' flowers with a true blue color are the hardest to come by. And by blue, I'm including everything from the pale blue of chichory flowers right through the 'royal' blue of Phacelia viscida. So, there are in fact quite a few plants whose flowers can be accurately be described as blue. It's just that those numbers pale compared to yellow, pink, red, purple and white. And while I'm not crazy with non-blue flowers being called blue, the thing that truly bothers me is when photos of some of these non-blue flowers are photoshpped to make them appear more blue than they actually are. That to me is deceit plain and simple. We've all had the experience of seeing a plant's photo online or on a sign, getting excited and then discovering that once it blooms, the actual flower is nothing like that image. And that's allowing for the fact that there is some difference in the 'experience' of color among the general populace.
So, that's my rant for today. Onto this week's photos where, yes, I share a couple photos of plants that to me are in the blue spectrum. No dispute about Borage, with its nodding true blue flowers much beloved by bees. Anagallis is on the deep or royal blue edge of the spectrum, though very much blue to my eyes. This week's photo of my Ageratum is a lesson in the 'not-blue' for me. It's described as blue but is in fact to my eyes a pinkish-lavender.
One final word. I do recommend googling a particular flower and looking at images to see what that plant actually looks like in people's gardens. Choose those over the Grower's stock photos, which may in fact be accurate. Or not.
Okay here are this week's photos.

'It  came from outer space!' Well, okay this Spider Woman dahlia only looks like something in a Sci-fi movie. For once, the flower is exactly like the grower's photo online.

I have generally not had luck with hybrid (ie. regular) gladiolas but the two species ones I grew this year each turned out perfect. Here's my G. Mirella, sporting coral-red flowers. Now we'll see what happens in year two ...

Here's the aforementioned borage with, yep, a bee on one of the flowers. Borage checks off three pretty big boxes for a lot of gardeners - it has some of the prettiest blue flowers, it's an absolute bee magnet and it's the easiest and most durable thing you'll ever grow.

I occasionally share photos of my slender main walkway bed, in part to show how much stuff you can cram into a tight space (if that is your wish). This bed is only 20" wide.

The walkway bed pictured above contains this wonderful Agastache called Black Adder (and no, the plant is not poisonous like the snake - what were these people thinking?). It's proven to be a prolific bloomer and like other hummingbird mints it is also a favorite destination for bees.

Regular readers know I have a small collection of caudiciforms. Here's one of them - Cussonia natalensis. It went deciduous but is really leafing out now. 

I'm a big Begonias fan. Here's my B. Illumination Apricot about to open its first colorful blooms. The Illumination series are prolific bloomers, pretty much mid-summer through first frost. 

Here's a Simon and Garfinkel reference for true fans (plant with orange flowers) 'For Emilia Whenever I May Find Her.' Yes, this plant is Emilia sonchifolia (and not the Emily in the song). Very pretty orange puffball flowers.

Another Agastache, this one the orange flowering Coronado. So, is it 'aga-stash' or 'aga-stacky'? 

Cuphea llavea Vienco Burgundy. That's a lot of words for a simple plant. This species goes completely dormant but then returns vigorously in late June/early July and is soon blooming.

Anagallis monellii. This plant does have a common name with blue as part of it. Blue Pimpernel. If it seems as if this common name might have been stolen from the book (The Red Pimpernel) it's actually the reverse. The word's origins trace back to the 15th century.

Tecoma stans Bells of Fire. Not as big as some of the Tecomas and featuring fiery orange-red tubular flowers. Curiously, hummingbirds have not paid my specimen much attention.

Here is the Ageratum houstonianum. A great plant and a butterfly magnet. Just not blue from where I'm sitting. This is the tall vigorous ageratum, not one of the little dwarf hybrids you see in garden centers.

There are self-seeders and then there are SELF-SEEDERS. Asclepias, here A. curassivica, is from the latter group. The kind of 'frozen explosion' you see here is actually the 'delivery system,' the method for the tiny seeds imbedded in the cotton to be dispersed by the wind.

CA buckwheats are indeed one of the best things you can plant in the garden to attract all manner of pollinators. Whether it's nectar collected by bees and butterflies or the seeds harvested by small birds, this is one nutritious genus. Here it's a Eriogonum grande var. rubescens. 

Mirabilis variety. Here's my yellow blooming variety of the plant called Four O'Clocks. Why aren't these flowers open? Because I took the photo at noon. So, yes, these flowers do wait until later in the day to open.

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