Mother Nature really has things figured out, doesn’t she? Bright colours dominate our gardens beginning in early spring; the forsythia, the early daffodils and crocus, perennial alyssum, Cornus mas and so many others have yellow blooms. The earlier tulips are mostly yellow, orange or red. After a grey and gloomy winter, nature’s blooms in early spring startle us and jolt us back to life.
In the heat of summer we want to cool it down, and we can do that in our gardens thanks to some wonderful plants with cool blue or violet blossoms. Mother Nature steps into the garden again and provides the gardener with a huge range of colour shades, from the palest blue to the deepest violet.
Blue flowers have the ability to catch your eye immediately, thanks to their ability to absorb the summer sun. The more light there is the darker and more dramatic the colours are.
Color combinations are strictly a personal choice, as we all see colors somewhat differently. I love the blue/light pink combination in the garden. White and blue make great bedfellows as well, as does blue and yellow, particularly the more muted tones of yellow.
Every good garden should have some blue flowers, especially in summer. Many of the following plants have a prolonged season of bloom, extending the blue effect right into the autumn, when the Okanagan light is even more captivating.
Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush)-By mid-summer it’s covered in blooms and butterflies are sipping the nectar from the individual florets. There are several cultivars with violet or lavender blooms and most newer types are sterile so not prone to seeding themselves around. Dwarf varieties are ideal for smaller gardens.
Caryopteris (Blue Mist Spirea)-hard to beat for late summer colour in a dry and sunny location. Bees congregate in mass over the light blue blossoms, which persist well into the fall.
Lavandula (Lavender)-our climate is perfectly suited for lavender. Another fantastic choice for a hot and dry area, the mounds of foliage are punctuated by tiny spikes of colour for weeks on end throughout the summer. Lavender is the perfect companion for pink flowering roses.
Nepeta (Catmint)-there are several ornamental cultivars of this member of the mint family, ‘Walkers Low’ and ‘Dropmore Blue’ are two of the best. All are very easy to grow and provide a vivid splash of blue for the middle of a border. After the blooms have finished you simply cut back the plant and in a couple of weeks you have fresh foliage and another crop of blooms on the way.
Perovskia (Russian Sage)-another plant made for the Okanagan, the combination of heat and drought tolerance and long bloom time makes it ideal for a background plant for a larger border. ‘Little Spire’ is a good choice for smaller areas. The silver foliage and powder blue blooms enables the Russian Sage to compliment almost any other colour.
Salvia (Sage)-both annual and perennial salvias provide upright blue spikes all summer long. ‘May Night’ has deep indigo blue blooms, while ‘Caradonna’ has violet-purple flowers with purple stems. Once the blooms have finished cut them down and wait for fresh buds to appear.
When summer arrives to stay you’ll be glad your garden has some blue to keep it cool.