Cottage Garden Blues
Is there a cottage garden in your past—either a real cottage garden, perhaps tended by your grandmother or favorite aunt, or maybe just a romantic vision that has evolved over time that did not include a plethora of blue plants? Why do we see so many blue plants in a cottage garden? Blue--the color of water and the sky--brings a sense of coolness, peace and tranquility to your garden. Although the word blue is sometimes used to describe sadness, blue also has many positive connotations, being a symbol of fidelity, faithfulness and spirituality. In the garden, blue imparts serenity and expansiveness. Blue in the plant world is elusive, however; finding flowers in the right shades can be tricky. Your garden would be just another ordinary garden if not for blue flowers. The cottage garden is notorious for its blue grandeur of color.
If you lack enough blue flowers in your garden, you can consider painting a garden shed door blue or perhaps some lawn chairs.
Here is a plant listing, by no means conclusive, which you can use to capture some of the many shades of blue for your garden
A big, sky blue hydrangea flower is absolutely breathtaking. Get your bigleaf hydrangeas to turn clear, sky blue by increasing the acidity of the soil. Adding soil sulfur is one way to do this. Here's a hint: Bigleaf hydrangeas can be shy bloomers. Most flower on last-year's growth, so if you need to prune them, do so right after they finish flowering. And look for newer varieties such as Endless Summer, which produce flowers on both new and old growth. Name: Hydrangea macrophylla selections Growing Conditions: Morning sun and afternoon shade with moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Don't let bigleaf hydrangeas get too dry. Size: To 7 feet tall and wide, depending on variety Zones: 4-9, depending on the variety Grow it with: Blue bigleaf hydrangeas look stunning when paired with white-flowering varieties such as 'Annabelle' hydrangea or oakleaf hydrangea. Perennial Geranium There are lots of garden-worthy perennial geraniums, but 'Rozanne' is one of the best. This top-notch perennial flowers from June to frost, producing a nearly endless supply of violet-blue flowers. Plant Name: Rozanne Geranium 'Gerwat' Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil Size: To 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide Zones: 4-8 Plant it with: Because the geranium starts flowering in early summer, pair it with spring-blooming bulbs such as grape hyacinth, blue crocus, and white daffodils.
Delphiniums offer some of the truest-blue flowers in the garden. In many areas, the plants are a bit fussy (delphiniums prefer regions with cool summers) -- though many gardeners find these regal flowers well worth the extra effort. Here's a hint: Stake taller delphinium varieties to keep the blue flowers from toppling over in the wind. Grow them in soil that's rich in organic matter. In poor soil, fertilize them with a general-purpose product to keep them looking their best. Plant Name: Delphinium selections Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil Size: To 6 feet tall and 1 foot wide, depending on type Zones: 3-7, depending on type Grow it with: Blue-flowering dwarf delphiniums such as 'Butterfly Blue' or 'Summer Nights' look fantastic with the yellow blooms of Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' or Gaillardia 'Fanfare'.
Bellflowers are charming plants often used in cottage gardens. Most have starry or bell-shaped flowers in blue, violet, pink, or white. Many of the longer-stemmed varieties are great cut flowers. Dwarf types, such as the 'Pearl Deep Blue' are good groundcovers. Plant Name: Campanula selections Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, depending on type Zones: 3-9, depending on type Plant it with: Bellflowers are prefect companions for blue pincushion flowers (Scabiosa). Bonus: Both are great for cutting!
Salvia varieties have become garden champions for their heat and drought resistance, as well as the fact that even hungry deer and bunnies tend to leave them alone. For true blue flowers, look for Salvia azurea or S. patens. Other types, such as 'May Night' or 'Blue Mound' are more violet blue. Plant Name: Salvia selections Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: To 5 feet tall and wide, depending on type Zones: 3-9, depending on type Grow it with: Blue salvias look wonderful with penstemon varieties, which are also heat and drought resistant.
An easy-to-grow perennial, balloon flower offers puffy, balloon-shape buds that open to beautiful blue, pink, or white star-shaped blooms for several weeks in summer. Plant Name: Platycodon grandiflorus Plant Name: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide Zones: 4-9 Grow it with: The lilac-pink flowers of 'Appleblossom' yarrow (Achillea) or gaura are a perfect complement to blue balloon flowers.
Clematis bloom in a range of color, but the true blue-flowering varieties, such as 'Crystal Fountain', 'Ice Blue', or 'Arabella' are among the most charming. Grow these vines on a trellis or in a small tree or large shrub. Plant Name: Clematis selections Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil Size: Most clematis climb to about 12 feet, but some can reach more than 25 feet. Zones: 3-9, depending on type Grow it with: A classic way to grow clematis is to combine them with climbing roses. Create contrast by planting a blue-flowering clematis with yellow rose such as 'Graham Thomas Climbing' or a white type such as 'Climbing Iceberg'.
Asters are one of the last plants to bloom in many gardens. Enjoy their red, purple, pink, white, or blue flowers in the garden or as long-lasting cut flowers. Plant Name: Aster selections Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide Zones: 3-9, depending on type Plant it with: Goldenrod and mums are two perfect partners for blue asters.
Loved by generations of gardeners, the traditional morning glory offers saucer-shape sky blue flowers. Other varieties bear blooms in bright pink, bold red, purple, and white. This vigorous vine is easy to grow from seed and can self-seed prolifically in situations where it's happy. Here's a hint: Morning glories can take a couple of months to start flowering after you plant the seeds. Make sure they're in full sun and don't fertilize them too much to get them to flower faster. Plant Name: Ipomoea tricolor Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: Climbs to 12 feet tall or more Zones: Annual Grow it with: Blue and yellow flowers are a no-fail combination, so try yellow black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) or yellow Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata).