True Blue

April 21 007
These startlingly blue hydrangeas make their appearance around Easter, where I live. When I spot these blue flowers, my heart skips beats, and then doubles them up.  This source of this arrhythmia-I do not live in a true blue zone. It shocks me to see this color in a flower. I have had gardening friends try to grow meconopsis-that breathtakingly beautiful Himalyan blue poppy-pitiful, their efforts.  Several years ago I happened to be in Texas at blubonnet season-wow.  Did not Lady Bird Johnson do a very good thing for the Texas highways?  Those four foot tall blue lupines one sees flourishing upstate in New York do not grow here.  Even the bachelor buttons grow leggy, and languish. My big blue comes mostly from the sky.  

Jan8 008I have grown serviceable, if short lived stands of delphinium belladonna and bellamosa, but blue is brief in my garden;  pansies, violas, lobelia, and phlox divaricata.  My big blue garden season is the winter. The combination of snow, sky, and dark turns everything in the landscape blue.    

Nov 22a 008Our climate supports many evergreens whose green needles have a distinctively bluish cast.  Frazier fir is a blue green color. The stately giant Concolor Fir is a pale blue grey.  The color stands out such that I have never known how to place them in a landscape where they seemed beautiful, and not theatrical-except at a great distance from the eye. 

DSC_0005Blue spruce is a very popular evergreen to plant, though I have never done so.  I find most properties I deal with are too small to carry that blue color convincingly.  When I think blue in a landscape, I think about mountains, hazy with evergreens, very far away.   These dwarf Serbian spruce are not quite as blue as the spruce in the background, but they quietly reference the color blue. 

Baidas   0018We have the blue of the sky and the water.  Michigan is home to the great, the medium, and the small lakes-all of them beautiful.  Years ago I never thought about water in a garden; I would not do without the color and the sound of water now. 

2008 Orley SUMMER 8-5-08 (11)I grow lots of plants that are blue green.  Rosemary, curly liriope, and variegated licorice-my favorite combination this past summer.  Planted in an English lead pot, set on a bluestone terrace-a modest celebration of blue.

Neil #8I do have clients who like their swimming pools Florida blue.  Fine.  She had such a thing for that blue, we painted the inserts in her steel boxes blue, to match the frames on her windows.  This may not appeal to everyone, but it doesn’t need to. I like seeing people pursue what makes them happy. 

DGW 2006_09_05 (1)Silver foliaged plants are a good source of blue.  This cardoon makes subtle reference to blue-as do lamb’s ears, achillea Moonshine, thyme lanuginosus, silver plectranthus, and so on.   Any number of non-hardy succulents make a bigger visual deal of blue-if drop dead blue pleases you. 

Hudas (14)Our natural blues are those moody grey blues.  This color is easy to work with.  White is great.  Red is striking.  Pink is sweet. Green is a natural. Yellow is friendly and outgoing. Lime green is cool and sophisticated. Orange and blue attract attention.  You get the idea.

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Atmospheric blue, whether it comes from the sky, the air, the lead, the water, the stone, or the light-these are my home town blues.


  1. dave bockman says

    Lovely latest articles Deborah, thank you so much for these… I’m waiting for orange!

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