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.
Your flowers are so pretty. Now I am wondering if my blue flowers are really blue.
It’s the true blue ones that I love, so many so-called blue flowers are purple.
Love the blues!
So do I, they are irresistible.
You have a real hue of blue.
Yes, blues don’t always come out too well on photos but these flowers are all really blue.
What a blue selection ! And these Omphalodes are so pretty. I didn’t know that plant, thanks !
You can get a plain blue omphalodes but I love this one with the white stripe.
I remember learning a long time ago that true blue is the rarest color among flowers. I suspected it was because flowers cater to their preferred pollinators, and therefore use the colors that pollinators are attracted to, or are able to see. I also know that there is a lot more going on with infrared and ultraviolet colors that we can not see. I just sort of thought that flowers knew what they were doing. If they put so much effort into making blue, there must be some reason for it. There must be some pollinators who are attracted to it.
You may have also noticed that blue flowers have white counterparts more often than flowers of other colors. For example, agapanthus is either blue or white. So is campanula, except for a few that were selected for being pink. Jacaranda is always blue, except for a few that bloom white. Even big herds of lupine will include a few white specimens.
Ofcourse the flowers just want to attract pollinators but for some reason people find blue flowers irresistible too.
Blue is challenging. Most of what is considered to be blue is actually somewhat purplish.
I was trying to put a name to one of my little blue bulbs the other day and came across the Wisley Trial report on them which is very informative: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/pdfs/plant-trials-and-awards/plant-bulletins/hyacinthaceae.pdf
Thank you for the link Jim, it is really interesting.
I love blue flowers and your post. My Blue Plumbago is nearly in full bloom.
I love plumbago, now that is true blue.
Love blue flowers ! My favourites are my hepatica transsylvanica. 🙂
I love hepatica too but they never last long in my garden. Some of the Japanese varieties are gorgeous but eye-wateringly expensive.
One case of the ‘blues’ that I don’t mind!
They are lovely aren’t they?
Another fan here of the blues! Forget me nots are one of the true blues. When they are not pink or lilac that is 😁 and so many lovely Muscari.
Yes, theforgetmenots are lovely right now and they go so well with tulips.
Blue flowers are my favorites too. If someone shows me or tells me about a blue-flowered plant than “might” grow in my climate I’m sure to try it at least once. I’m lucky that Agapanthus do so well here – and that I inherited so many clumps with my current garden.
I adore agapanthus too. They are a late summer treat here.
Oh, I so agree with you on the true blues! One of my favorites is Blue-Eyed Grass, in the same family as Irises. And the spring-flowering bulbs that you show here are gorgeous!
Thank you Beth. BlueEyed grass? I don’t know that name. What is the Latin name?
A good read, lovely pics
Sent from Outlook Mobile
Thank you Pat.
Yes, I am not confident with the names of some of these little spring beauties either so that is a useful tip about the chins! As you say, blue plants are relatively rare but spring brings most of them although I ‘need’ a few more. You have some gorgeous muscari! Thanks for sharing all your sixes 😁
Muscari always make a nice addition to the spring garden and they are cheap to buy.
I’m a great fan of blue flowers. These are delightful! xxx
They are all delightful and now of course we have the queen of the blues in bloom. I got up early yesterday and walked through a nearby bluebell wood- magic!
outrageous numerical cheating, but you are forgiven, lovely pictures. I like the navelwort. I even like the name, I wonder what the origins of that are.
Yes, sorry, I always seem to cheat and slip in extra ones.
Such a gorgeous collection of blues. Those chins and Scilla are so delicate but the muscari are very lovely. At keukonhof a couple of years ago I was amazed at the number of varieties.
The late Jenny Robinson lived down the road and she had the National Collection of muscari, I would love to have more, there are so many gorgeous varieties.
I have just taken part in a zoom lecture from Fergus Garrett who was using Muscari Peppermint
I def want those!
Thank you, I adore blue flowers.
All beautiful. You have some intriguing Scilla species I have never heard of. For some reason Muscari does not do well for me.
That’s funny, muscari is usually a weed and takes over everywhere.
Gorgeous! I am in awe of how you manage to remember all the different varieties you have. 😃
Remembering all my flower names shows how nerdy I am. I’m a train spotter of the floral world.
Some beautiful shades of blue Chloris. My brunneras are not showing any signs of flowers yet. I’m sure that they would normally be in flower by now. There is a most interesting chapter on blue in Eleanor Perényi’s book ‘Green Thoughts’ which I’m sure you would enjoy.
Oh thank you Anna, I have that book but I haven’t looked at it for a long time. I do reread my books but as I have getting on for 400 gardening it takes a while to revisit them.
Aint nature amazing??? What a delightful collection. I love blue flowers, and you have some beauties. Starry eyes and that dark Muscari lookalike really are wonderful. The Jack Frost you sent me isn’t flowering yet, looking forward to seeing it again, it’s doing really well.xxx
I’d forgotten I sent you Jack Frost, I hope it will bloom for you.
The chinodoxa/scilla tip is perfect – even if they’ve changed the names. Love that bellevalia and also the muscari ‘Mountain Lady’. Thanks for your six!
The bellevalia is dark and sophisticated, I love it.
So do I – and, I think, many others!
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