Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Last week I finished with morning glory Ipomoea learii from the tropics, there are a few more with blue flowers native to warm climates.

Firstly, there are the bromeliads that come in shades of blue although some of these may be on the purple side. One of the more stunning of these would have to be a tillandsia Tillandsia cyanea sporting a reddish spathe from which emerge the most stunning electric blue petals. The flowers commence blooming about two at a time from the base of the spathe and continue flower over a long period. The tillandsia genus is includes the Spanish moss common to the Southern USA, and survive on dust from the atmosphere rather than soil. Any roots that do occur are purely for anchorage. A good companion for this might one of the taros sporting leaves with an electric blue tinge, the exact name of these I am not sure of, but I have seen them for sale for time to time.

For subtropical blue colours there is the bird of paradise plant, Strelitzia nicolai, where the flower petals are white with a blue spathe. This plant is more likely to be grown for its showy foliage rather than blue flowers. The leaves are held in broad fan shapes the stems over time forming trunks. An example of S. nicolai can be seen out side the Anglican church in Oneroa. The only point about it is the way the old foliage persists after it is spent, requiring removal to keep it looking tidy. This could be teamed with the sky flower Thunbergia grandiflora a large fast growing subtropical vine.

Other blue flowers from a more Mediterranean climate might be the pride of Madera, Echium fastuosum with its long upright panicles of blue flowers making a lasting display in summer. Like many blue flowered plants there are other colours as well including purple and pink. E. fastuosum needs a good prune back after it has flowered to keep it from getting overly large and woody. Another suited to our dryer climate is the blue marguerite daisy Felicia amelloides has small pure blue daisies with a tiny yellow centre. Again a good cut back after flowering will help keep it compact. It will, given the chance, cascade down a bank very successfully. From South Africa, for a blue cascade is plumbago Plumbago auriculata, this pale blue vine has no problems adapting to our climate. Like with the others a good trim back will again keep in bounds. It is best when grown on some form of support but will mound it self up on itself to create a bush. There is available now a darker flowered form so keep an eye out in the nurseries for this.

While on the topic of South Africa it would be hard to go past the common old blue agapanthus Agapanthus africanus. There are now also many different forms of A. africanus now available, in varying sizes and colour from white through palest blue to deep blue. For the damper position what could be more evocative of childhood days than the hydrangea Hydrangea X macrophylla ‘Hortensia’. If you have the water for them they are great. Providing blue flowers when grown in acid soils and red to pink when grown in alkaline soil! Having soils tending toward the acid we are more likely ot have blue flowers, but with the addition of lime we can have pink ones as well.

Next time blue fades to purple and other ideas on colour.


Post a Comment

<< Home