Pink ones are pretty, yel­low most cheer­ful, red is joy­ous, and white, el­e­gant. But blue, sky blue, flow­ers are sub­lime.

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Mary Lovell-Smith sings the blues.

Not pur­ple-y blue, pale blue, or even turquoise blue like the di­vine Ixia virid­i­flora. I mean the blue of the sky on a cloud­less sum­mer’s day and the blue of my sons’ eyes, clear, keen and fresh. My top sky blue flow­ers are small and re­sem­ble in form the so pretty but com­mon (and bright blue) for­get-me-not ( Myoso­tis syl­vat­ica), that sweet and pro­lific har­bin­ger of spring.

For colour and har­di­ness, it is hard to beat the peren­nial Anchusa azurea, espe­cially ‘Lod­don Roy­al­ist’. The flow­ers of this na­tive of south­ern Europe across to Cen­tral Asia are an in­tense blue and cre­ate a glo­ri­ous haze up to 90cm high above the slightly strag­gly fo­liage. With a spread of about 45cm, it is per­fect for the mid-bor­der, espe­cially given that the bristly leaves are un­pleas­ant to touch.

Flow­er­ing from late spring into sum­mer, its will­ing­ness to thrive any­where from light shade to full sun makes it a win­ner. Be­ing tap-rooted, it prefers deep soils and tol­er­ates drought. Cut back af­ter the first flush of flow­ers and be re­warded with a sec­ond. Also avail­able here is the taller Anchusa azurea ‘Drop­more’. Rec­om­mended, too, is the South African an­nual or bi­en­nial Anchusa capen­sis ‘Blue An­gel’, which has vivid royal blue flow­ers and tends to be more com­pact and up­right. This sun-lover tol­er­ates hot spots and poor or dry soil.

Brun­neras are grown for their heart-shaped and of­ten coloured or pat­terned fo­liage.


macro­phylla ‘Jack Frost’ par­tic­u­larly wins admirers for its bright blue and again for­get-me-not like, flow­ers up to 7mm across on stalks up to 50cm tall from Au­gust to De­cem­ber. Its sil­ver fo­liage is at­trac­tive too, but re­move it in au­tumn, or else it tends to rot most unattrac­tively.

Na­tive to the forests and banks of the Cau­ca­sus and north­east Turkey, Brun­nera macro­phylla prefers part or full shade and rich moist soil (once es­tab­lished it will tol­er­ate mod­er­ate drought).

Cynoglos­sum am­a­bile is of­ten known as Chi­nese for­get-me-not.

This hardy though short-lived peren­nial (bi­en­nial even) self-seeds read­ily, and is of­ten treated as an an­nual. From spring to late au­tumn, a mul­ti­tude of 6mm flow­ers flut­ter aloft 40cm stems.

Give it sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil, and never let it dry out, and you and it (and the bees and other ben­e­fi­cial in­sects) will de­velop a mu­tual love af­fair. Dead­head­ing pro­longs flow­er­ing.

Two va­ri­eties of om­phalodes also have sim­i­lar flow­ers and make gor­geous gar­den in­hab­i­tants.

The vig­or­ous and peren­nial Om­phalodes verna hails from Europe where it is found in damp moun­tain woods. It forms an ev­er­green mat with flow­er­ing stems up to 20cm tall bear­ing bright-blue 12mm flow­ers in spring. Like its Turk­ish cousin Om­phalodes

cap­pado­cica, it is happy in shade and moist, hu­mus-rich soil. So dig in com­post or leaf mould when plant­ing and mulch in early spring.

In the gar­den, Om­phalodes cap­pado­cica is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered by many to be su­pe­rior to Om­phalodes verna, if only for its slightly larger flow­ers and also less creep­ing na­ture.

Brun­nera macro­phylla ‘Jack Frost’.

Om­phalodes verna.

Anchusa azurea.

Brun­nera macro­phylla.

Myoso­tid­ium hort­en­sia.

Me­conop­sis be­toni­ci­fo­lia.

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