Six blue flowers for March

Many months of the year seem to have an associated colour.  For me March is definately a yellow month full of bright daffodils and pale primroses in the hedgerows.  However whilst wandering around the garden this week it struck me that there are also many blue flowers in the beds and containers.  In many ways it is this colour contrast that brings the garden to life.

My Six-on-Saturday for this week highlights a number of purple-blue and pure blue flowers which I’ve spotted around the garden.  They range in size enormously from the relatively small to larger in-your-face blooms but all have their place with many surviving the long winter and returning fresh in spring each year.


1.  Viola

Planted in the autumn, these violas have been quietly flowering for most of the winter.  As the days grow warmer the plants are now developing further and beginning to develop their spring show.

P1030935 Viola


2.  Chionodoxa

These tiny blue flowered bulbs seem to be settling into specific parts the garden.  They seem to like what I would term ‘the woodland edge’ at the base of our deciduous hedges and at the edges of the woodland copse.   Much like the primroses, which like the same conditions, they die back in the summer when they would have to compete with other more luxuriant vegetation and quietly and reliably emerge again in early March.

These blue chionodoxa sit very beautifully with the pale yellow of the primroses.

P1030930 Chinodoxa and Primrose


3. Hyacinth

Now for something completely different.  Planted in colourful pots of compost last autumn, these hyacinths were overwintered in a cool greenhouse to give them that little bit of extra protection.  They are now coming into their own and provide a lovely scent as you walk across the patio.

P1030923 Hyacinth


4.  Pulmonaria (variety long forgotten!)

This blue variety was probably planted by us over 20 years ago and it returns reliably every year.  It is not a large, spectacular or showy plant but I always notice it in the flower bed at this time of year.  It is charming how the blue and pink flowers exist together on the same plant.  The flowers open pink and then soon change to blue.  The foliage which is covered in small white dots is also an interesting characteristic of this genus.

P1030920 Pulmonaria


5.  Periwinkle (Vinca major)

Some might call this a weed but it does make wonderful ground cover in some quite challenging parts of the garden.  For me the good looking pure blue flowers are well worth their place.

Periwinkle


6. Crocus ‘Victor Hugo’

Crocus naturalise very freely in the grass here and can provide a surprisingly long period of interest if you plant a range of colours.  For us the yellow crocus seem to appear first followd by the purples and whites.  We seem to have much more success by planting them in the grass at the base of trees where they can remain undisurbed.  In the flower beds I find I am always digging them up as I clear and weed throughout the year.

We also enjoy them in small patio containers close to the house to provide early spring colour.  This variety, Victor Hugo, has been particualrly successful this year.

P1030912 Crocus Victor Hugo


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

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Six shades of blue on Saturday

As I sit here writing this there is a crystal clear blue sky overhead, the swallows have arrived and the buzzards are mewing as they circle in the warm thermals.  What a dramatic change from last week.

The noticeable change in colour this week is the emergence of blue throughout the garden contrasting beautifully with the yellow of previous weeks.  Here are my six shades of blue for this week.


One:  Violets – this native plant is slowly establishing itself around the garden along with its white cousin.  They are very pretty and we always delight in seeing them appear in a new spot often sitting amongst the primroses.

Violet


Two:  Bluebells – the first of the bluebells are appearing in the lower copse and will steadily increase in number as we approach May.

Buebell


Three:  Blue Hyacinth – blue on its own often fades away into the distance and is sometimes used if you want to make an area of your garden look longer.  Related to the bluebell above this striking deep blue Hyacinth is set off beautifully by the yellow daffodils.

Hyacynth


Four:  Periwinkle – sometimes considered a bit of a weed we find it creates an interesting show in tricky areas of the garden.  This periwinkle has in fact been flowering since January and the blue flowers set against the variegated foliage add interest in a very dry bed under a lilac tree.

Periwinkle


Five:  Forget-me-not – these plants happily seed themselves throughout the garden but are very easy to pull up if they appear where you don’t want them.  The sweep of powder blue across the flower beds looks particularly good when combined with striking tulips in contrasting colours.

Forget-me-not


Six:  Bellevalia paradoxa – I could of course have included the standard blue Muscari in this six but thought it might be interesting to include something a little different..  This Bellevalia flowers slightly later than the standard grape hyacinths and has a deeper dusky blue colour, longer stems and an almost pointed flower head.

Muscari Paradoxum (Bellevalia Pycnantha)


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator.  Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Blues – this years’ wedding flower trend?

As our thoughts turn to the spring sowing of flower seeds we have been keeping an eye on the current trends for 2018 weddings.  Certainly the talk on the various bridal forums has indicated that blue, particularly navy and royal blue, is likely to be very popular this year.  This is also borne out by the orders we have received so far.

As there are relatively few true blue flowers this could potentially be challenging if we don’t carefully plan our sowing to ensure we have a good range in flowers throughout the season.  It is, however, not just about the blue as we need to ensure that we have a selection of complementary and contrasting colours available to set off the blues perfectly.

Pew ends in blue and white with a pop of yellow.
Pew ends of blue cornflowers and dutch iris alongside white roses and feverfew providing that tiny pop of yellow. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Venue Wethele Manor, Warwickshire

So what are the options available for providing these blue floral arrangements with country garden flowers?

Powder Blue

I feel the lighter powder blues are perhaps easier to achieve than the darker navy and royal blues.  Many of these varieties make lovely garden plants as well as having the advantage of being good cut flowers.  Some of our favourites include:

  • ‘Love-in-a-mist’ (Nigella damascina and Nigella hispanica) – a lovely, delicate true blue flower that also yields interesting seed pods later in the season.
  • Ageratum – we particularly like the F1 strain ‘Blue Horizon’ as it has much longer cutting stems than the typical bedding varieties.  It is a great garden plant and goes on flowering its socks off and looking good until the first frosts of the autumn.
Ageratum 'Blue Horizon'
Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’
  • Sea lavender (Limonium latifolium) – a light and delicate Limonium that is great for creating the open, wispy effect that sits so well with country garden wedding bouquets.  It also dries well.
  • Scabious – this is such a fantastic meadow style flower and always looks good in country style and wild garden bouquets.
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella backed with asparagus fern and pittosporum. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Sweet Peas – for fragrance you cannot beat the Sweet Pea and there are some pale blue varieties that fit this blue trend perfectly.
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
  • Didiscus – a delicate and interesting bloom that holds well and adds a meadow touch to any arrangement.
Didiscus
Didiscus

Mid-blue

  • Cornflowers – probably one of our most used blue flowers ideal for bouquets, arrangements and buttonholes.  They hold extremely well and can cope with being out of water for some time.  Cornflowers are one of a limited number of flowers that work reliably in a flower crown of fresh flowers on a hot summers day.  They are also edible and can be used as cake flowers.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Delphiniums – these are extremely valuable as they come in a range of blues from a light powder blue shade, through mid-blue and also rich deep blues. The blooms are rather more ‘chunky’ than larkspur but that makes them particularly good for large pedestal and church arrangements.
  • Dutch Iris – blue is a receding colour and it often requires a pop of white or yellow to bring it to life.   There are some varieties of Dutch Iris which are almost a deep velvety blue but the typical dutch iris is mid-blue with a flash of yellow or white that sets off the blue nicely.

Deep Blue to Mauve/Purple

  • Anemone – if you are putting together a spring wedding then the Anemone will be one of the stars of the show.  We have found that they are relatively short lived in our garden and each year the flower stems get shorter and shorter.  Although still useful as a garden plant they become less useful as a cut flower as time goes by.  We therefore tend to buy and plant new corms each year to maintain a good crop of usable stems.
Country bouquet
Country bouquet featuring blue anenomes, dutch iris and limonium. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Photograph by Michelle Hardy Photography http://www.michellehardyphotography.com/
  • Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ – this Delphinium of the ‘Belladonna Group’ provides a true blue flower that is open and delicate.  It regularly appears in our Honey Pot Flowers designs!
  • Larkspur – although strictly speaking a Delphinium the annual Larkspur species D.consolida and D.ajacis tend to be much more delicate than the perennial border delphiniums.  They therefore lend themselves better to smaller bouquets and table arrangements and can also be dried and used for petal confetti.
Larkspur 'Braveheart'
Larkspur ‘Braveheart’
  • Clary Sage – a well behaved flower stem that provides colour all summer.  A useful filler in both the borders and in bouquets.  It is in fact the colourful bracts rather than the true flowers that provide the shot of blue.
  • Salvia caradona – a very useful addition to any arrangement providing an architectural spike of deep blue/mauve.  In the garden we do find that it is a short lived perennial that needs to be replaced regularly.
Blue and white wedding bouquet of cottage garden flowers
Blue and white wedding bouquet of Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ and Cornflower with the deeper blue/mauve provided by Salvia caradona. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers

Complementary and contrasting colours

I think it is important to mention that when designing with blue, either in a garden setting or in a floral arrangement, you need other colours to bring the blue to life.  Blue and white sit well together and provide a pleasing and relaxed effect but equally pairing deep blues and mauve with pops of yellow or even orange create a strong vibrant effect that can be truly stunning.

Blues have the ability to offer both soft or vibrant displays.  If the blues become a strong trend in 2018 it could prove to be a very exciting year.