blue flowers
Blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 28, 2010

March 29th, 2010
Blue Flowers

  • Muscari racemosum. Blue bottles. (aka, grape hyacinths. The “grape” refers to the way the flowers are clustered like a bunch of grapes, not the color.)
  • Nemophila insignis. Baby blue eyes.
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica. Spanish bluebells
  • Lupinus texensis. Texas bluebonnet.
  • Commelinantia anomala. False dayflowers. (solid blue and a bicolor)

Recently I tweeted about Suntory having GMO’d a “blue” rose. In response, @CarolineSays linked to a blog post by Chris Clarke Daze of Whine and Roses, which scoffed at the very idea that Suntory’s rose was blue. Lilac or mauve, maybe, but not blue.

In flower terms, “blue” is a pretty expansive color term–just like black, which typically is a really, really, deep red. So I decided to inventory my own blue flowers. Of course, the camera lies. Depending upon the settings in your camera, the setting on your monitor, or any number of other variables (photos shot in full sunlight, bright shade, full shade), colors are going to differ.

Massed, bluebonnets are a deep indigo or jewel-toned blue. (At least mine are. Some are a more pale sky blue.) Spanish bluebells look anemic beside them. Baby blue eyes are a hazy day sky blue. But in the photo they look almost lavender…or like my favorite crayon as a child “periwinkle blue”. In life, false dayflowers are an electric, aniline blue. In my photo, they have a reddish tint compared with the bluebonnets.

I wanted to see if some of the “lavender” blues looked more like blue when compared to flowers that I think of as purple in the garden: Texas mountain laurel, tradescantia, and verbena. And they do. The color of the Suntory rose seems similar to the periwinkle blue of the rosemary and baby blue eyes.

blue flowers
Purple and blue flowers blooming at Zanthan Gardens on March 29, 2010

So I’m not going to get on Suntory because their new flower isn’t really “blue”. Rather, I’m still disappointed that they think developing a blue rose is worth messing around with genetically modified organisms.

Austin Spring March 17
2010-03-17. The cedar elms are leafing out well before the larkspur or bluebonnets are in full bloom. Spiderwort and irises are in flower as well as some minor bulbs. The pecan tree is the last to leaf out and the larkspur self sow around it.

March 17th, 2010
Week 11: Wearing the Green

Almost every tree began leafing out this week. For many gardeners, daffodils and crocuses speak the language of early Spring. Redbuds and bluebonnets shout out this is Spring in central Texas. For those of us who suffer through Austin’s hot, dry, dusty summers that blinding green of unfurling leaves leaves us a little breathless. Spring green. Nope it’s not all cacti and cattle drives down here.

I’m never ready for the trees to leaf out in my yard. I can’t imagine life without them in July but in mid-March most of my annual are just sending up their flower stalks and the roses are budding. I want another month of sunlight. I want full sun all day at least until the nights stop dipping into the 30s.

Austin Spring March 17
2010-03-17. I never manage to clean up all the leaf litter from the red oaks before they start leafing out again. In the lower right hand corner you can see the severe freeze damage to my sago palm.

The red oaks and the cedar elms compete for first. The smaller trees–fig, Japanese persimmon, pomegranate, loquat, and vitex–all are sprouting new growth. Laggards include the ginkgo, the crape myrtles, and the pecan. The Texas persimmon, which lost its leaves for the first time in 14 years, is leafing out. Only the live oaks are marching to a different tune. They are “evergreen” but turn a disturbing brown in Spring as their new leaves push out the old, like a child losing milk teeth.

The trees aren’t the only ones wearing the green. Root-hardy perennials are finally proving that they survived January 2010’s hard freeze. Fresh little shoots appear at the base of the duranta, Mexican mint marigold, zexmenia, crocosmia, and gladiolus. Only the bulbine remains silent.

Muscari racemosum
Grape hyacinths

March 15th, 2010
GBBD 201003: Mar 2010

Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites us to tell her what’s blooming in our gardens on the 15th of each month.

March 2010

The redbuds are Austin’s harbinger of spring but in 2010 it seemed they would never bloom. More than three weeks later than normal, on March 6th, I started seeing redbuds around town. After that, Spring cut loose. It was as if the other flowers had to wait for the diva to take center stage before making an entrance. Tazetta daffodils that are usually in flower in January bloomed alongside jonquils and large-flowering daffodils. The larkspur, which typically blooms a month after the bluebonnets, began blooming almost a week before.

Despite the devastations of record drought and freezes, the garden springs back.

Between GBBDs

Two stems of ‘Ice Follies’ daffodils came back after a couple of years of not blooming. I thought I’d lost them for good. I had divided them over the year and at one time had 8 groups.

Complete List for March 15, 2010

The list of all plants flowering today, March 15th 2010, at Zanthan Gardens. This is the fourth March I’ve participated in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Compare: March 2007, March 2008 (most floriferous), March 2009 (18 months into the drought).

  • Commelinantia anomala
  • Consolida ambigua
  • Coriandrum sativum
  • henbit
  • Iris (unnamed blue)
  • Iris albicans
  • Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) in pot
  • Leucojum aestivum
  • Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’
  • Lobularia maritima (white)
  • Lupinus texensis (including a pink opening today)
  • Muscari neglectum/racemosum
  • Narcissus jonquilla ‘Trevithian’
  • Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Monarque’
  • Narcissus tazetta ‘Grandiflora’
  • Nemophila insignis
  • Nothoscordum bivalve
  • Pisum sativum ‘Progress #9’
  • Pisum sativum ‘Wando’
  • Prunus mexicana (big tree finished, 2 small trees at height)
  • Rhaphiolepis indica
  • Rose ‘Ducher’
  • rosemary
  • Sophora secundiflora
  • Tradescantia

Narcissus Grand Monarque
2010-03-07. Narcissus ‘Grand Monarque

March 7th, 2010
Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Monarque’

According to Scott Ogden, Garden Bulbs for the South, the narcissus bulb I purchased at Gardens last fall that was marked ‘Grand Monarque’ is probably just ‘Grand Primo’. However if it is the ‘Grand Monarque’ grown in California, it will probably survive in Austin’s heavy clay soil for only a year or two.

I don’t have any ‘Grand Primo’ flowering right now to compare. Comparing from memory I will say that this ‘Grand Monarque’ is larger. The bulb was huge. Everything about the flowers are larger, too. This could be just because it’s a brand new bulb selected at its prime for sale. However, looking at old photographs of ‘Grand Primo’ they do look indistinguishable. So perhaps I do already grow the same bulb in my garden but they’ve suffered from neglect. The N. tazettas cross easily so there are different strains. I wouldn’t mind if this one pumped some new genetic material into the strain that’s naturalized.

Narcissus Grand Primo
Old photo of Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’. The light is different so it’s difficult to accurately compare colors but the forms look identical.

These photographs don’t quite capture the white of the ‘Grand Monarque’ accurately. I have some paperwhites blooming today and they are pure, brilliant, stunning white. Both ‘Grand Monarque’ and ‘Grand Primo’ tend toward the ivory and blend more naturally into the landscape.

Narcissus Grand Monarque
2010-03-07. Narcissus ‘Grand Monarque’

Rob Proctor, Naturalizing Bulbs, adds to my confusion. He says, “The variety ‘Grand Monarque is very much like the Chinese sacred lily but blooms a month later. It has long been a southern favorite.” Where’s a description or photograph? Then he describes ‘Grand Primo’ as being a member of the italicus family. This sounds like the same mistake I made initially. The italicus bloom earlier, have very long strappy leaves, smaller cups, and a much muddier white, compared with modern paperwhites. Proctor echoes Ogden, saying that a “similar variety (to ‘Grand Primo’) is found in California, called ‘Minor Monarque’ with white petals and a yellow cup.”

Garden History

First flower: 2010-03-03.