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The ever-elusive blue flowers of a garden

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Jennifer Moore
You need this in your perennial border.

There is difficulty in finding true blue perennials for a garden, but it is possible by using shades there of. Most of the plants labeled 'blue' are really not blue, but in fact either a violet or violet-blue. Hybridizers are trying to achieve perennials in blue shades but are having difficulties and with the growing demand of gardeners wanting the true blue, they keep persisting.

There are various perennials available to help satisfy the gardener wanting blue, these being only a handful:

Bachelor Button - It is best placed close to other perennials in a full sun location and tolerates any type of soil. Growing 2 - 2.5 feet tall with grey-green foliage, it is topped with many spidery, violet-blue delicate-looking flowers. This plant actually blooms twice in its growing season, once in early June and again in August. Simply cut all the stems off the plant at the base when they have fallen away from the center and are beginning to go to seed. The plant will grow new stems and will bloom again. A hole is created in its location for a few weeks, thus being the reason to plant it closely with other perennials to hide the hole.

False Lupin - Resembling the regular lupin, it produces flowers much looser up the stem in a violet-blue. The leaves are long and smooth and travel up the entire stem, equivalent to alfalfa. As the flower matures, seeds are formed at the base of the loose flowers. Grown from seed it takes a long time to acquire a nice clump, therefore best grown from basal cuttings. Growing 2 - 2.5 feet tall, it is a sun-loving perennial for the middle of the border.

Blue Anchusa - Wonderful dark green, elongated or heart-shaped leaves are amongst the spray of large, forget-me-not-like flowers. Best grown in part-shade to full sun, many varieties available in this species will allow various heights as well. Some varieties grow 12 inches tall while others can grow over 3 - 4 feet.

Lithodora - A tight ground cover with very dark green, tiny leaves and almost electric royal blue flowers that bloom in early to mid-summer. Great in a woodland setting at the front of the border or in a partial-shade to full sun flowerbed.

Jacob's Ladder - Known since Roman times, the finely-cut foliage grows up the stem, which at the very top are clusters of five-petalled lavender-blue flowers with bright orange staemens. Growing 2.5 - 3 feet tall it needs to be placed in the middle to the back of the border, in full sun and rich soil. It looks better if planted in large groupings rather than a single specimen, as it tends to disappear.

Veronica Spicata - Also known as 'Speedwell', this summer-flowering plant will provide a very pleasing effect if planted in full sun and ordinary soil. It will tolerate part-shade, but looks spindly as it reaches for the sunlight. Long spikes of bright violet-blue flowers are great for bouquets, as the middle flower will bloom, then when removed two side blooms will appear at the next set of branches. Growing 2 - 2.5 feet tall, it is best placed near the front or middle of the border.

Campanula - 'Blue Chips' is the most widely used in this species, providing rounded clumps of pretty lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers almost smothering the leaves. Other varieties are available, from taller 3 foot varieties to the tallest 5-6 foot varieties. Commonly called "bellflower", they all require deep, fertile soil and need moisture during their growing season. They all do best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade and most flower early to mid-summer.

Perennial Geranium - 'Johnson's Blue' is a perennial geranium, produced from a corm in the soil. It has large, softly rounded leaves which grow up the 2 - 2.5 foot stems. The five-petalled flowers are a violet-blue that provide charm atop the clump-forming plant in mid-summer. Plant in full-sun to part-shade in well-drained, fertile soil.

There are many bulbs, rhizomes and corms that have flowers in many shades of blue; Anenome, Crocus, Scilla, Grape Hyacinth, Dutch hyacinth, Spanish Bluebell, Chionodoxa, Agapanthus, Allium, Siberian Iris, Dutch Iris and Bearded Iris.

Don't forget the wonderful annuals to choose from as well, they can be placed in amongst other plants for a great effect.

Most of the perennial blue flowers are seen blooming in the spring, with a small portion seen in the summer and fall months. Thus, it is possible to have blue being prominent or as an accent colour in your garden throughout the spring and summer seasons.

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