When Your Garden is Feeling a Bit Blue

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Kikko Blue Hydrangeas

Similar to the shortage of blue foods, there aren’t a lot of blue flowers out there.

No, not purple or lavender, even though these colors are often lumped under “blue” in horticulture publications. I mean a true blue.

I’ve been on a quest to add more blue blooms to my yard for the past few years. It started one evening while having dinner at a friend’s house. On the center of her dining table was a small arrangement of flowers cut from her garden, and there it was. The perfect blue! She didn’t know the name of it, but after my rhapsodizing over the gorgeous flower instead of the food, my friend gave me some volunteers from her garden.

After some research, I discovered it was a perennial called Centaurea ‘Montana,’ common name Mountain Bluet. The bloom looks a lot like Bee Balm (Monarda), but blue instead of red. And so my passion for finding more true blue flowers began.

Through my research, I’ve found several other varieties to try in your garden.

Some blue perennials to consider are Hydrangea ‘Nikko Blue’ (if grown in slightly acidic soil), Veronica spp. ‘Crater Lake Blue’ (Speedwell), Mertensia pulmonariodes (Bluebells), Buddleia davidii ‘Ellen’s Blue’ (Butterfly Bush), Delphinium, and the bulb Muscari armeniacum (Grape Hyacinth). There are also several varieties of iris, both Dutch and tall-bearded, that are blue. If you are looking for a blue perennial ground cover for full sun, try Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago).

If annuals are more your flower of choice, Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are an easy way to grow vine, and there are blue varieties of Pansies, Lobelia, Larkspur and Bachelor Buttons to try.

Besides blue flowers, there are some shade plants with blue foliage. Many hostas have blue in their botanical and common names, but the blue is really a dark blue green. Usually, the darker the leaf, the more shade it needs to maintain that dark bluish hue all summer.

Once you choose your true blues, how do you use them in your landscape? There are several color combinations that work very well.

My favorite is blue and yellow. Although it is not used a lot here, it is very popular in France and probably Sweden, since they are the two colors in the Swedish flag.

Pink, blue and lavender go well together. All three colors appear more vivid when reflecting off each other.

If you have a seating area in your garden where you like to relax, pair white flowers and plants with silver foliage with your blues. That combination has a calming effect. It works particularly well in formal or classic settings. Think of the blue and white of Delft or Chinese pottery.

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