28: Autumn 2011

Author: Jackie Davies

Blue and White

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Blue and White
Jackie Davies

My favourite colour is blue. With a wealth of plants considered to be blue, several years ago I decided to plant a blue and white bed to complement the ‘hot’ bed I had started to plant the previous year. White isn’t too difficult! There were many white climbing roses to choose from to grow up the pillar I had in place. I already had cuttings of a middle-sized hebe with large white flower spikes. (Sadly no idea of its name.) Three white delphiniums were purchased as very small plants. A beautiful white Agapanthus ‘Polar Ice’ was already bursting out of its pot and was bedded out successfully. I had grown Agapanthus headbourne hybrids several years ago so planted three clumps (now reduced in size, they do like my soil!) and also planted a couple of clumps out of Agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’. I had also grown some white platycodon and several were ready in pots in the cold frame. A nice white-flowered, variegated-leaved lamium was easy to plant and made itself at home very quickly, together with a lovely hardy white diascia purchased from Diane Cole. So no problem with the whites in all shapes and sizes.

But blue! What a range of shades and tones. So many ‘blues’ are really, to my eye, more purple/lilac than true blue. Over the past few years I have come to the conclusion that true blue exists mainly amongst the Salvia family although a few delphiniums and scabious, particularly Scabiosa caucasica ‘Clive Greaves’, come a good second. Salvia uliginosa has proved difficult on my dry sandy soil – but what a beautiful plant if one can grow it. Salvia patens is a ‘good doer’ and has proved quite hardy. Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ has been quite spectacular and lasted outside for two winters, but I’m glad I took cuttings because the originals didn’t last in the winter of 2008/09. Still, I had my cuttings ready in the greenhouse and they have thrived this summer – still flowering now – early October. I ‘discovered’ Strobilanthus atropurpurea when visiting Treasures at Tenbury a few years ago, but when I grew some plants from seed and put one in my bed – it looked distinctly purple! Still, it’s a lovely plant and flowers quite late in the year so is very useful indeed. A couple of pretty herbaceous clematis were purchased – again more lilac than true blue but well worth keeping nevertheless – Clematis integrifolia and C. x diversifolia ‘Hendersonii’ do well, plus the lovely hybrid C. ‘Annabel’. Sadly C. ‘Multi Blue’ got clematis wilt and died in its first season. I must plant C. alpina instead to grow up the pillar to flower before the white rose blooms in June. Viola ‘Eastgrove Blue’ provided some lovely clumps of mid-blue at the front of the bed, and Aconitum carmichaelii flowers late in September so I found a place for one plant. (It gets large!)

This bed, like the ‘hot bed’, has changed over the past few years, it’s constantly evolving and plants come and go, but I remain fond of anything that grows that is blue!

First published in the Worcestershire Group Newsletter, Autumn 2009
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 28.
© Copyright for this article: Jackie Davies

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2011. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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