Blue colours bring a little echo of the sky down to the garden. The perennials Linum perenne ‘Blue Sapphire’ (flax) and Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’ (woodland phlox) are adding more cool toned blue and lavender colours to the garden now. Their blooms join the other blue and purple flowers, Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue spike’ (grape hyacinths) which is just about done, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss), and annual Lobelia.
The Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’ (woodland phlox) are a gorgeous bluish lavender colour. Their variety name is more of a metaphor than an accurate description, since they don’t have a strong scent. However they do have wonderful clouds of blooms that are visible for a distance. Each bloom is like a child’s drawing of a flower. The plant is covered in them, even in medium shade, but they won’t bloom in deep shade competing with a willow. I used to have this perennial for 4 or 5 years underneath a willow on the north side of a fence, in a corner, where it just sat, neither blooming nor spreading. Then I moved it to a new location, still on the north side of a fence, where it gets only a couple of hours of direct light. It was so relieved, that it started blooming profusely and gently spreading out. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find the happy spot. You can read more about Phlox divaricata here.
My Linum perenne ‘Blue Sapphire’ (flax) gets one of the coveted sunnier spots in the garden. With flax, the more sun the more blooms. They don’t really open their flowers much on a cloudy day or in the evening. This is a delicate looking plant that is actually quite hardy and easy care. The foliage is an attractive, slightly bluish green. This perennial has very narrow grass-like leaves. The stems are long and supple, swaying with the breeze. However the pretty sky blue flowers are the real treat. Each flower doesn’t last long, but is quickly followed by many more. Flax blooms for a couple of months. The flowers used to self seed at my old house, but the seedlings were easy to pull out or move. Flax is not annoying since it doesn’t bother its neighbours or compete in the lawn like some seeders. I have these surrounded by cocoa shell mulch in this garden, so I hardly have any seedlings now.
The Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss) is still flowering, but with fewer blooms. I’ve written about Brunnera, and detailed its great traits in this article. This is a clump of 3 plants in this photo. Their leaves are developing the heart shape and extensive silver frosting now. These Brunnera are very happy under the shade of the maple tree. They are thick enough to suppress most of the maple keys, unlike some plants in the garden.
Lobelia, it’s not just for spilling out of containers. Lobelia is one of my favourite annuals to mix with perennials in the shade. I especially love the sky blue varieties. I used to get ‘Cambridge Blue’, but I can never find it anymore, so I now plant ‘Riviera Sky Blue’. They do well in part shade, but they do like regular moisture. I think lobelia has a shorter life in places with hotter summers. As good little annuals, they flower from May, right through until after the first frosts in my zone 3 garden. They look like a river of blue winding through the mixed beds. I also use them as a temporary fill in around young perennials until they grow in later years to fill their spaces. Sometimes a splash of blue looks better than a sea of mulch. You can see some at the back of the flax picture too.
I love the colour blue in the garden. It’s calm, soothing and easy on the eye. Both lavender and blue coordinate so well with green foliage, and they make for a serene garden. You can see pictures and read more about blue and lavender flowers in late fall here.