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.
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