Continuing on from our previous piece concerning the introduction of selected colour schemes within the garden, we now bring you a variety of cool, blue cultivars to complement the fiery red shades we talked about last week.
Floral and Hardy’s Top Five Blue Blooms:
Aconitum, aka ‘Monkshood’, previously appeared in our poisonous plants section and this is important to note if your blue garden will someday entertain animals or small children, as it can prove a fatal addition in the wrong hands. Fortunately, the Monkshood’s preferred growing site is somewhere in partial shade, so you may be able to conceal the plant sufficiently to neutralise this threat! For best effect, plant towards the back of your borders, behind shorter blooms, this way you’ll take advantage of the long stems and vibrant violet blooms. Aconitum is possessed of fairly durable stems so provided the plant isn’t completely exposed it shouldn’t require staking or extra support, but make sure the soil is water retentive and rich, or risk significant damage to your chances of it flowering.
As a native of South Africa it is important you tailor to Agapanthus’ need for fertile soil and sunlight and plant in a sunny, exposed position and, depending on your soil type, you may wish to balance it with the addition of sand or humus to ensure this plant has the drainage it needs. It is recommended that you cultivate the soil in this manner up to 12” deep to ensure a strong root foundation. Similar in shape, if not in colour, to a giant snowflake, their vulnerability to wind is a product of their height and the weight of the flowers. They have an average growing range of over a metre, so it may be necessary to stake all around to ensure good health and flowering.
These slender beauties take the form of a vibrant feather duster and produce narrow towers of flowers on a thick, hardy stem, providing your borders with lovely vertical punctuation. However, they are not the easiest customers to please. They prefer full sun but suffer in wind, therefore I would suggest generous implementation of stakes, and make sure you’re happy when you do finally hole them, as they are not easily repositioned. One way to guarantee them a strong start is to line the hole, which should be twice the pots size, with bone meal and, beyond, just make sure you water them regularly. Watch out for slugs and snails in the spring too, as they love their juicy, young growth.
The Iris is one of the most versatile cultivars in the world, able to grow in conditions ranging from an arid, dry desert to full water submersion. Fortunately for you, this translates to a very simple customer in terms of positioning and soil quality as you can always choose one to suit your conditions. There is one constant, however, and that is they all require full sun, the bearded varieties in particular. Depending on the overall quality of your soil ,we have three types to recommend. For the less fertile garden you might consider the Siberian Iris, far and away the hardiest cultivar suitable for British weather. The German bearded specimen will accept most soils of average fertility and moisture, and the Japanese cultivar thrives in very damp and rich soils and as such may be considered for the bordering of a pond. They are all long stemmed flowers whose foliage depends on whether they are rhizomatous or bulbous, the former will produce symmetrical sword shaped leaves while the latter will have cylindrical leaves.
Also answering to ‘Himalayan Blue Poppy’, this stunning cultivar never fails to enchant, with its beautiful papery, sky-blue petals and pale yellow centre, unfortunately it often fails to establish itself in gardens so far from its native climate. Do not even attempt to grow this plant unless you have well-drained, acid soil and a shady spot to grow them in. For guaranteed results, it is necessary to tailor the plant’s surroundings and allow it to acclimatise slowly.
Plants are also short-lived and will need to be regularly replaced and you can do this from seed. First sow the seeds onto a damp paper towel, roll the towel into a log and place it in one of the salad drawers of your fridge in a sealed plastic bag for a month. The reason for this is to introduce the dormant seeds to their endemic environment and effectively wake them up. Next you need to create a compost of grit, seed and ericaceous compost, water the tray well and leave to drain, then place your seeds on the surface of the mix but don’t cover them with a second layer. To get them to germinate, the most important thing to remember is water, at no point should the mix tray dry out Store said tray in a cool place preferably with a plastic lid to retain moisture. However, you must take care to remove the lid as soon as germination begins to prevent fungal rot. After a fortnight they should be ready for transplanting and we recommend the same mix that was used for germination combined with plenty of tenderness and loving care.
By Josh Ellison