If you think about it, true blue flowers are quite rare, the flowers listed by nursery men as blue are very often shades of mauve or purple. In fact there is no blue pigment in the plant world and colours that appear blue to us are actually permutations of violet or purple. To make flowers appear blue, plants carry out some sort of biochemical magic using red pigments called anthocyanins. I have read the science but I can’t get my head round it, it is magic to me. Blue flowers are universally appealing, as long as they are naturally blue and not the hideous dyed carnations and even orchids that you sometimes see for sale in supermarkets. The perpetrators of this crime against plants need locking up.
The blue flowers of spring are particularly magical. Years ago I sorted out the confusion in my mind about the names of the most gorgeous early-spring blue flowers; the little bells of Scilla lucilliae and the starry flowers of Chionodoxa forbesii by reminding myself that chionodoxas don’t hang their heads, but have their chins up; I know it’s not quite chin, but if you slur ‘chion’ a bit it sounds like it. Chionodoxa is a lovely Greek word meaning the ‘Glory of the Snow’ which is a bit misleading as here they are blooming away now and we don’t usually get snow in April. Anyway no matter where they point their chins the arrangement of their anthers and filaments are quite different if you look at them closely.
But now after getting my head round the differences I find that chionodoxas have been subsumed into the Scilla group anyway. But this is handy when doing Six on Saturday as I can count these as one and still have five more blue flowers to write about. But first, I am going to cheat a bit and show you how Chionodoxa forbesii comes in a pretty shade of pink too.
I love the pretty, starry flowers of the Turkish Squill, Scilla bithynica. They are produced in pyramidal racemes of starry flowers.
Still on the theme of sky blue flowers I have creeping carpets of Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’. If this name is a bit of a mouthful for you, its common name is ‘Navelwort’ but I have no truck with common flower names, specially ones as ugly as that. This plant does best in dappled shade.
The flowers of Omphalodes look rather like Forgetmenots as do those of Brunnera macrophylla. There are several variegated varieties of this and I started off with ‘Jack Frost’, Looking Glass’ and several others. They have all seeded around now so they are quite varied.
Grape Hyacinths spread around everywhere too and can become a nuisance but there are some very refined ones which stay in nice clumps without getting everywhere.
Muscari armeniacum ‘Mountain Lady’ is a much smarter and quite new variety with bicolour flowers.
I have a lovely powder blue one which Jenny Robinson found in Cyprus. It is called Muscari latifolium ‘Jenny Robinson’, but to confuse matters it is sometimes called ‘Baby’s Breath’. To confuse matters even more it is very similar to Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’. The only difference I can see is that Jenny has slightly broader, tidier leaves.
I am going to include Bellevalia pycnantha in with my Muscari because it looks just like it and in fact it used to be called Muscari paradoxum. It is very dark and sophisticated.
I love daisy flowers and the sky blue Anemone blanda is wonderful for naturalising and spreads around into great pools.
Veronica peduncularis is a mat-forming herbaceous plant that gets better each year as it spreads into a large pancake bearing cobalt blue flowers in spring. I grow mine next to the buttercup -yellow Euphorbia polychroma.
So that’s it. As I am linking in with the Propagator’s popular Meme ‘Six on Saturday’ I have to limit my blues to just 6 species. Except I will bend the rules just a little by putting a few more April blues in a collage; they are all so lovely it is difficult to leave anything out. Today is glorious and in these troubling times we gardeners are lucky to be able to get out into our gardens and enjoy an abundance of wonderful spring flowers. Do see what all the other keen Six on Saturday fans are up to at the moment.