"Early spring blues"

Blue flowers for shaded spots!
Sunday, 06 September 2020     

Bluebells: Hyacinthoides hispanica

Blue is my favourite colour, and at this time of year, there are some really pretty blue flowers out, many of them in the shadier parts of my garden. Bulbs are starting to bloom, and bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and spring starflowers (Tristagma uniflorum, syn. Ipheion uniflorum) will happily multiply in partly shaded spots to form a pool of blue. I grow them nearby the dainty, pink clouds of flowers of succulent Crassula multicava.The crested iris (Iris japonica) - one of the so-called Evansia iris species - is an easily grown rhizomatous plant with ruffled blue (or white) flowers in August and September, and it relishes a shady spot. It forms a good groundcover, and its fans of leaves make a good foliage contrast in the garden. A less commonly seen Evansia iris is Iris wattii, which is taller and has much larger frilly lavender-blue flowers. I love these irises growing with my pale yellow Clivia, which are just starting to bloom now.

I enjoy seeing blue flowers in different colour combinations in my garden. In one area, where abutilons (Abutilon x hybridus), orange clivia (Clivia miniata), red/orange paintbrush lily (Scadoxus puniceus) and shrubby firefly (Justicia floribunda; syn. Justicia rizzinii) provide brilliant hot colours, I enjoy the contrast blue flowers provide to these hues. A couple of shade-tolerant salvias fill the role: Salvia roscida (ht 1.5-2 m; syn. Salvia fallax), with long spires of dainty, pale blue flowers held in dark calyces, and Salvia rubignosa (ht 1 m) with chubby clusters of bright blue blooms held in purple calyces. Plectranthus barbatus (ht 2 m) is another blue-flowered shrub that will grow in part-shade, and it is showing its large spikes now. Compact Eranthemum pulchellum (ht 1 m) is also in bloom now with its clusters of pale blue (or, more rarely, rich blue), simple flowers. It grows well in shady spots.

Spring annuals are another source of flowers for partly shaded places: forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica), cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida) and polyanthus (Primula, Polyanthus Group) all have blooms in various shades of blue, and like the bulbs and shrubs described above, provide that infusion of freshness that tells us that spring is here!

Blog originally posted on 11 September 2008; updated 6 September 2020.

 Reader Comments

1/6  Marian - 3500 (Zone:11B - Arid) Monday, 07 September 2020

Perfect blog for me this week, Deirdre. I have been pondering blue plants to break the clash of orange clivias and pale pink camellias along a shaded pathway. Marian That's great, Marian! Blue seems to go with any other colour. Deirdre

2/6  Valerie - 2121 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 07 September 2020

The starflowers look beautiful. I will just have to put some in. Plus the forget me nots. I had a few which I nursed through the summer but they seem to have disappeared. Thanks for reminding me of how blue can transform an area in the garden. Yes, starflowers are lovely. Hope your forget-me-nots return! Deirdre

3/6  Sue t. - 2566 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 07 September 2020

Teucrium fruticosum is another blue flowering shrub flowering at this time of year. Also salvia sagittata Mosquito. Both great plants. I am amazed how long that Mosquito salvia blooms for! Deirdre

4/6  James - 2042 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 08 September 2020

I love blue too - just planted three Clematis rooguchi - fingers crossed. At this time I could add to the blue mix my Eranthemum sp., Germander Speedwell (Veronica sp.), and Comfrey Hidcote Blue, which I noticed today has started to flower.All gifts and the Speedwell may be a weed, but I love it. Good luck with that clematis. I have a friend who has successfully grown it in Sydney. Deirdre

5/6  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 10 September 2020

At this time of the year, blue does shine in the garden. I have bluebells, forget-me-nots, just the common type, scabiosa, blue star flowers, as well as an Australian-bred blue clematis, which is just beginning to bloom. Some of the foliage of Louisiana Iris does have a bluish tinge to it, I find. Clematis have some of the best blues and they seem to be flowering a bit earlier this year. Deirdre

6/6  Lesley - 2088 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Sunday, 13 September 2020

I love blue as well. My bluebells which I planted this autumn have started to appear. Have not seen the blue star flower yet. There are also still some winter flowering salvias still going strong. Purple would be good with the hot colours as well. I have acanthus, purple clematis, deep purple hyacinths, some violet stragglers and Australian native violets with purple tones flowering at the moment with the clivias, and Reine des violetttes rose is about to bloom. It all sounds gorgeous, Lesley! Deirdre

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